Joel McHale Isn’t a Movie Star (Yet)
Community’s leading man discusses life on the edge of the A-list.
Joel McHale is an unusual pitchman. He’s just this side of famous—he’s headlined the White House Correspondents’ dinner but never a movie—and just the other side of too honest. The new face of Purity Vodka may be the least cagey man in showbiz. He says what he wants. And what does the Community star want? Another season and a movie, to enjoy his coworkers, to do his own stunts, to make some money, to be worshipped by his myriad followers. You know, Hollywood stuff.
McHale talked to Maxim about life on the edge of the A-list.
Are you officially a celebrity once you’re aligned with a liquor?
They say A-list celebrities don’t do ads in America, but they sure do a ton overseas. I’m not A-list, so that’s why I’m able to do them here in America.
They made me a money offer, and I said, “Well, I want this much money.” Whenever these things come up for selling things—because things need to be sold as we’re in America—it all depends for me on the creative. If it’s not funny or it’s not good, then I look like an idiot and the product won’t get sold. They were very open to the creative. The video was written by two of the three guys who wrote the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. We found a happy medium of “We want to sell this thing as well as we can” and also produce an interesting video.
How many projects do you currently have?
Well, we just opened our movie Deliver Us from Evil, which beat Transformers. Community is starting up in the fall. The Soup. This vodka. And The Soup got nominated for an Emmy, which is very exciting.
Do you have more movies coming out later this year?
Possibly. We’ll see if this one comes out. It’s actually pornography.
That will get you on the A-list.
That’s true! I also need an scandal or a couple of stalkers. Let me know if you have any friends who are available and insane.
So Community is officially coming back for a final season on Yahoo?
Yes. I knew that there was talking going on, and I was always very supportive of it. I’ve always said that it being cut off in the fifth season was not enough. I felt like we needed another season and a movie. I think going to somewhere like Yahoo couldn’t be cooler or more perfect because Dan Harmon will be unencumbered by network restraints and commercial breaks and censors. It’s going to be one of the best seasons we’ve ever done.
How many episodes will it be?
When will it start?
We’ll start shooting in the fall. They have to start the process of rebuilding sets and renting spaces and getting a crew. They got rid of us, so we have to find new studio space. To put all that together takes time. Everyone is coming back, as far as I know. I mean, Donald Glover is not, sadly, and we miss him.
Your two movies this summer, Blended and Deliver Us from Evil, didn’t get great reviews. Do you have any kind of rebuttal to that?
Well, Deliver Us from Evil the New York Times and L.A. Times loved, so how do you argue that one? The problem is that everyone goes to Rotten Tomatoes and doesn’t read a single review. I do the exact same thing, and I like Rotten Tomatoes a lot, but people just look at the number, not the reviews. And horror films notoriously get shafted by critics.
What made you want to do a horror movie?
I’d never done anything like that. I loved being in a movie like that because I was with Eric Bana, Jerry Bruckheimer produced it, my best friend wrote and directed it, and he wrote the part for me. You get to go shoot a movie for two months in the Bronx and you get to knife fight and beat people up and play a cop opposite Eric Bana? Are you fucking kidding me?
Did I read correctly that you did your own stunts?
I did a lot of them on my own. There were some I couldn’t do without really hurting myself. I did a stunt where I got thrown into a wall, and I was supposed to hit the wall with my head and fall backwards. And I did it, and they were like “That was great.” Everyone clapped. And then they were like, “We’re going to have the stuntman do it.” And the stuntman did it, and his looked great. I asked, “How did you do that?” and he said, “Oh I just knocked myself out.” He was unconscious. He was out cold. I bashed my arm open during the filming too. It was really fun.
What was it like working with Adam Sandler on Blended?
He’s one of the more lovely people in the world. That’s also evidenced by the fact that his crew has been the same for the last 15 years and they love him and he loves them. I just thought, “Man, if I ever achieved success like this, here’s how you do it.” He’s such a good guy.
It was a very happy place to work. And we played basketball for two hours every day. I kept thinking, “I’m going to break my ankle doing this, but we’re playing with Adam, so if I break my leg it’s his fault.” I didn’t break my ankle, thank God.
You’re making some pretty dangerous movies these days.
It’s very dangerous! On Community we have a stuntman all the time. I try to do as many of those as I can, too, especially when my face is in it. I love all that shit so much. It’s so much fun to do. I love getting physical in that way.
You recently did a viral knock-off of Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee called “Comedians in Cars Getting Cocaine.” The whole thing was a joke, but the car was amazing. Where did you get it?
It was a car collector’s. That thing is worth 150 grand. You have to really wrench over the gear to put it into park, and I did not. And the car started slowly going forward. This $150,000 car. I jumped into it and put it back in gear. It was a beast. It was a Ford something. You’ll have to look it up.
Are you trying to say the name of the car in hopes that they’ll give you one for promoting it?
No one is going to give me that car. I would like to say it so I don’t have to look like an idiot. But obviously I do like to say product names for money.
Photos by Fortunata / Splash News / Corbis