Mark Duplass Talks “The League,” His New HBO Show, and Adrian Peterson

He also answers our favorite 10 questions, because why not.

Where do we find ourselves as the start of Season 5 of The League?

We’re at Andre and Trixie’s wedding weekend. It’s a double episode to start things off, which is really fun. We haven’t done that before. Everybody’s together and we get to meet Ted for the first time. He’s been this faceless member of the league. In terms of where the characters are at, one of the best things about this show for me is they don’t fucking change. They are puerile and infantile and immature, and really love making fun of each other and trying to verbally eviscerate each other with whatever ammo they can find. In that sense it’s definitely more of the same.

Does it feel true to life that some people just don’t ever change?

I think so. I am about as different from this character as can possibly be. Pete has this confidence as he goes through the world that no matter what he does and no matter how little work he puts in he’s going to be fine. My own anxieties and insecurities have turned me into a workaholic. I am very different, but I know these dudes. I’ve met these dudes at airports and sports bars across the country now that I’m a part of The League. They sometimes drunkenly confess, even sadly, how similar they are to Pete and the other characters on the show. They’re out there, for sure!

Does your character, Pete, even still have a job?

Yeah, he does, but nobody gives a shit what it is. He doesn’t give a shit what it is. He just works at one of these random pharmaceutical companies and gives his nine hours at work – which is usually about an hour and a half of actual work and seven and a half hours of fantasy football stuff. He lives for fantasy. His life has turned into a good solid C minus, I would say. So he seeks his glory on the virtual gridiron of fantasy football.

What’s something you’ve learned about comedy during the past four seasons on the show?

One of the things I’ve learned in particular is that if there is no emotional content – and there is zero emotional content on The League – then everything is fair game. It really is like a joke quest. It’s been freeing for me. The stuff I make with my brother [filmmaker/actor Jay Duplass] is comedic and dramatic and we’re doing character arcs. The League is just a shitshow for jokes. It’s freeing to be able to do that with reckless abandon.

There are a lot of call-back jokes on The League. Do you have a favorite? 

I like Pete’s “It is decided” joke. That one’s fun for me. Andre’s got something going on this season that I can’t talk about yet but it is as ridiculous as they come. And I enjoy Ruxin’s “Pete top, Kevin bottom” riff. Just punching in on these veiled homosexual attractions between Pete and Kevin.

Who are some of the guest stars this season?

We have [Chicago Bears quarterback] Jay Cutler on the show. Which was really funny because Jay is an aloof guy. Some people would even call him difficult to be around. And we got the sense when he showed up that he was dragged onto the show against his will by his wife [Kristin Cavallari] and then he ended up having a blast and was a really great guy and did a really good job. And then [Houston Texans defensive end] J.J. Watt, who was the Defensive Player of the Year last year. He’s a monster physically and, it turns out, intellectually. I got to be terrified while he chased me down a hallway. And Adam Brody is great. I really liked having him around. He’s really smart and felt like he could almost be a cast regular.

At this point are football players coming to you guys and asking to be on the show?

In the first season it was a lot of begging, from what I hear. Jackie, one of our producers, was doing whatever she could to get recently released third string kickers to consider stopping by for five minutes, and now we’re at the point where we do have huge players calling us and saying, “We want to be part of the show.” Adrian Peterson and I last year had a whole storyline together. It’s caught on and they like it. And it’s good because now they understand what the format is and we don’t have to be scared that when we make fun of them they’re going to beat the shit out of us.

Is that a real fear?

It is. You see them in person and you see how enormous and powerful they are. And then it’s just an instinctual reaction, like, “I don’t want to say anything mean to this person because I want to live!”

Are you working on any other projects besides The League?

I have a bunch of stuff in the works. There’s a movie called Bad Milo that my brother and I produced that’s this very fun throwback to Gremlins. It’s with Ken Marino and it’s about a demon living inside of his ass that comes out when he gets stressed out and attacks everything that stresses him out. That’s on iTunes now and comes out in theaters in October. And Jay and I are doing a show for HBO. We just got greenlit for a first season. It’s called Togetherness, and we will be shooting that early next year.

Photos Courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company


What is the last thing you had to apologize for?

This is easy. My daughter was watching Aquamarine and she was told that Daddy was taking a nap and not to wake up Daddy during the nap. And she woke me up because the movie stopped playing and I got really fussy with her. So I had to apologize to my daughter for being grumpy when I woke up from my nap.

What is your favorite curse word?

The thing that’s really been getting me lately is “shit-sipper” from The League. There’s something about it. Endlessly new visuals come up: How do you sip it? Why is it so watery and liquid-y? The whole thing is just so terrible and the visuals are just wonderful.

What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?

This is really terrible to say, but I was 10-years-old. In New Orleans you grow up drinking very early. My friend and I got into my parents’ bar, which had Jack Daniels. We thought, “Oh we’ll just drink the Jack Daniels and fill it back up with Coke.” So we drank a whole fifth of Jack Daniels and I threw it up through my nose and I didn’t get out of bed for 48 hours.

What was your first car?

A used 1985 red Honda Prelude that we bought for $2,100 that did not work very well. We had to sell it six months later because as cool as it looked we just weren’t the family who knew how to work on cars. So then I got a really dorky Chevy Cobalt that was new that we wouldn’t have to worry about fixing. For six months I was fucking cool as shit.

Do you have a scar that tells a story?

I’ve got a three-inch gash running along the top of my knee. Growing up in New Orleans when I was eight-years-old, as part of my school duties I was supposed to do this dance onstage with a red beans and rice hat to the Ghostbusters song. I was like, “This is the most mortifying, stupid song I can imagine. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of my friends.” My parents were making me do it so I took a dive while I was running across the parking lot of the school so I could get out of it, but I took it a little too far. It was on gravel and I ended up slicing up my knee and having to get stitches. But I went to the hospital and didn’t have to perform, so it worked.

Do you have a party trick?

I’ve got a couple things I can do. At a pool party I can do a one and a half backflip. It’s not that big of a deal, but I’m not the kind of person you would think can do a good backflip. So that really shocks everybody. Also depending on the amount of alcohol lubrication I can do that thing where you grab your foot with one hand and then you jump through your leg. That’s a 50-50 success rate. But at certain parties you can find me in the bathroom practicing that one before I bring it out to the public.

What is the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?

That’s a League kind of question right there, for sure. I did that Ritz cracker competition – have you ever done that before? Where you try and eat 17 crackers and then whistle? It’s supposed to be impossible. You can’t whistle, but I did get 17 crackers in my mouth so that was something to brag about.

What is the one thing to remember in a fist fight?

As an adult, the most important thing to remember in a fist fight is, “Do not get into a fist fight.”

Who was the last person to see you naked?

It was either Katie [Aselton], my wife, or any ghosts that live inside my bathroom about 20 minutes ago. I just had to go to the bathroom while I was on the phone doing a bunch of press.

Are you in the bathroom right now?

I’m not in the bathroom right now. You’re clear, but somebody on some radio station in Houston, they heard me naked for sure.

Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…

Make ice cream eating an Olympic sport. Think about the training. Think about how applauded you would be and you would get sponsored and people would cheer for you for being a gluttonous shit-pig. That’s the way to live.

Photos by Fox Broadcasting Company