The fast-talking writer and star of The Internship on life, movies, and fake orphans.
Photo: Jake Chessum / Trunk Archive | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
You wrote and star in this movie about two washed-up salesmen who enter the internship program at Google. How did you get the idea?
I saw a 60 Minutes piece on Google as a place to work. It was such a foreign concept from what I understood as a regular job. There’s free food, sleeping pods, Ping-Pong. I’m the kind of guy who likes to get involved in everything— I’d be all over the Ping-Pong. I also thought, unfortunately there are a lot of people currently losing jobs, and things are moving in different directions. So a lot of older people are finding themselves unemployed and without the necessary skill set that is in demand now. It’s this: Oh, gosh, where do I land? So I’m really proud of this movie. I feel like it’s really a movie of this moment we live in.
How did Google react to the idea?
I wrote the first draft very quickly, and then I went to Google. It was important to me that we could use the name of a company that really exists instead of coming up with a fake company. They were welcoming and willing to have a sense of humor about themselves. But they didn’t finance the movie; there was no product placement in the movie.
Are you a tech-savvy kind of guy?
No. I didn’t own a cell phone for a long time. I was late in the game on that.
Maybe two years ago I got a cell phone.
Once my wife was pregnant, I got one. For me I always enjoyed my time not being able to be reached. I was never in such a hurry to be on the phone. I’d see people on the phone all the time, and it starts to seem like you’re a hamster on a wheel. So I’m not a big gadget guy. When I write, I’ll do the whole thing by hand, and then I’ll put it into the computer.
Do you ever Google yourself?
There are at least 10 people on Twitter who claim to be you. We’re guessing you’re not one of them?
No. Some people really like to get into Twitter, but it’s not my thing.
You’re responsible for some of the most quotable lines in cinematic history. What do people quote back to you the most?
Probably lines from Swingers—“You’re so money” and “beautiful babies”—but I can tell you we weren’t trying to come up with catchphrases. These were things we said and exaggerated in the script because we thought they were fun for a character to say. There was no understanding or handicapping that this could be more.
Our favorite thing you’ve said on camera is, “Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!” That’s not really a question; we just felt the need to share that with you.
Well, thank you.
So in The Internship you and Owen Wilson have pretty not-so-great jobs before you get canned. Have you had any shit jobs in your life?
For sure, yes. When I was in high school, I had a telemarketing gig where you would sell tickets to this Lake County Sheriff’s police rodeo, and you would call and say the family package would be $20 for four. They’d say, “Oh, well, we’re not interested in the rodeo,” and you’d say, “Oh, that’s OK. Would you like to send an orphan to the rodeo?” And they would sometimes say yes, they would be happy to cough up $5 to send an orphan to a rodeo. We all sat around this big table, and there was an old guy running the place who would always disappear in the back room for hours with a girl. You never knew what was going on. Every week there would be new people there. Years later I started thinking about it; I thought, Were there that many orphans in Lake County? I’m not saying that there weren’t, but I started to get wise and think maybe there wasn’t a rodeo. At the time I was excited to get a job, but I look back and say I can’t stand getting a call from the telemarketer.
So you’ve done comedies and drama. Is there any chance we will see you in one of your buddy Jon Favreau’s comic book movies?
Not anytime soon. I like those films. I would never say never, but there are no plans in the future.
Any parting words?