Jeff Garlin Walle Interview


EXCLUSIVE Interview by Paul Fischer.

Jeff Garlin is a funny guy, a talented writer and filmmaker best known as the sometimes frustrated best friend of Larry David in Curb your Enthusiasm. He is also one of the few voices to be heard in the new Pixar animated film, WALLE, voicing the role of an unusually heroic ship's captain in a galaxy not too far away, in this story of two robots who fall in love amidst impossible odds. Jeff Garlin talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.

Paul Fischer: The last time we spoke, you were actually surprised that I knew you were a voice in WALLE.

Jeff Garlin: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Paul Fischer: How hard was it for you to kind of keep this film under wraps?

Jeff Garlin: Well, I was told I had no choice. [LAUGHTER] So that's what I did.

Paul Fischer: When you take on a voice in an animated film, do you do it for the kid within you? Do you do it for your children, for your - I mean, what is the main rational for you in taking on a job like this?

Jeff Garlin: Well, to be honest, I think it's the kid in me, it's my kids, it's being employed, it's doing quality work. I think there's 100 million reasons why you say yes.

Paul Fischer: What surprised you the most about the process of doing this?

Jeff Garlin: What surprised me the most? That it was harder work than I thought.

Paul Fischer: Why?

Jeff Garlin: Because when you perform in this, you're really performing. It's not as easy as just - you know, you're alone in a room. I'm actually in a studio with the director, and you're really acting out everything you're saying.

Paul Fischer: How much - I mean, you know, you speak to so many actors who provided voices in animated films. And a lot of the time, they comment about how much the character - these characters develop over time. With a character like this guy, was there a sense of development at all?

Jeff Garlin: No. There was no - it was just - it was my voice, and just, I became the guy instantly.

Paul Fischer: What did they show you before you started doing the recordings?

Jeff Garlin: Just a drawing.

Paul Fischer: And did you think to yourself, "This guy looks a little bit like me?"

Jeff Garlin: Yes.

Paul Fischer: [LAUGHTER] You have to rely totally on your imagination.

Jeff Garlin: Totally. Well, actually, I have to have my imagination imagining what it is that Andrew Stanton is using his imagination to tell me.

Paul Fischer: What was difficult about doing that? Or was it difficult?

Jeff Garlin: No, I wouldn't say it's difficult. I have a good imagination. So that wasn't difficult, per se. Not much in show business is difficult, except for perseverance. And perseverance just means, keep moving forward when nothing else is going on.

Paul Fischer: What do you draw within you to persevere as much as you do, to find the kind of roles that you take on?

Jeff Garlin: I couldn't tell you.

Paul Fischer: Really?

Jeff Garlin: Yeah. I have no idea what it is within me. And I know it comes from a healthy place, not an unhealthy place. Because I don't need - I need to be employed, I need to be creative. But I don't need accolades. I enjoy accolades, you know what I mean? But I don't need it. I mean, you know, we had a premiere the other night, and they had the red carpet. And the red carpet makes you want to throw up.

Paul Fischer: Why?

Jeff Garlin: Why? Nobody asked me anything interesting.

Paul Fischer: Really? So, what are the most boring things you get asked?

Jeff Garlin: Can you do an impression of Wall-E? What's your favorite part of the movie? Do you think that the message of ecology is a good one for kids? You know, come on.

Paul Fischer: Well, you have to get through the day, right?

Jeff Garlin: Yeah, it's part of my job.

Paul Fischer: When you began, Jeff, was it purely comedy, or was it performing that impassioned you?

Jeff Garlin: Comedy, comedy, comedy.

Paul Fischer: And where did that come from?

Jeff Garlin: I was the funniest kid in the school. And I had a passion for comedy. You know, George Carlin passed away last night. I'm very sad about that. My wife just called me about 20 minutes ago to tell me, and I'm hit pretty hard by that. I mean, he and Saturday Night Live-and he hosted the first Saturday Night Live. But there was a whole era of comedy in the '70s that had a profound effect on me. Steve Martin, you know. Enough to motivate me to become a comedian.

Paul Fischer: You were born in Chicago, you were brought up in Chicago. Was Chicago a great town to have grown up in, in terms of your career as a comedian?

Jeff Garlin: I would say yes! [LAUGHTER] Because I'm pretty successful, and I look back fondly on my time in Chicago.

Paul Fischer: What brought you to LA?

Jeff Garlin: My wife's insistence that I needed to move there for my career.

Paul Fischer: And of course, you do as your wife suggests.

Jeff Garlin: That's correct, sir.

Paul Fischer: I guess Larry David has been, obviously, a huge influence on your success.

Jeff Garlin: Yes. He's the entire influence.

Paul Fischer: Why do you think that show struck such a chord? I mean, he's such a morose character. And such an unsympathetic character, and such an annoying character.

Jeff Garlin: Everyone interprets him differently, I think. As well as - you know, when we're making the show, we're not thinking that our choices are so strange. It's only later on when people say to me, you know, "Wow, it's so uncomfortable during that scene." I'm going, -"Really? I was thinking about, when's lunch?" You know. I think that the show is funny, but because of - besides being just funny, and Larry David being brilliant, the lack of political correctness is fascinating to people.

Paul Fischer: You also studied filmmaking when you were in college, and you have directed. And the last time I spoke to you was for the -

Jeff Garlin: I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.

Paul Fischer: Do you want to do more of that?

Jeff Garlin: I do want to do more of that.

Paul Fischer: How hard is it for you to come up with an idea to direct something?

Jeff Garlin: Well, you know, that's the easy part. To be honest, coming up with the idea. Getting the money is the hard part. The idea - they come to me. I've got dozens of ideas.

Paul Fischer: And are you planning on putting any of those on - you know.

Jeff Garlin: I hope so. I've got a movie that I wrote that I'mgoing to direct. I was going to star in. I'm not going to star in it any more. I don't want to. I'd star in it if we filmed six months or a year from now. But right now, physically, I'm not up to starring in a movie. So I'm hopefully going t obe shooting a movie in July or August. Actually, probably August, now.

Paul Fischer: You also have The Rocker, coming out. Was that an easy film to say yes to?

Jeff Garlin: Most work is easy to say yes to, you know? The great thing about doing film work, if it's a bad movie and they offer you a lot of money, is that nobody's going to remember. And I say that - I'm not talking about starring in a bad movie. I'm talking about a supporting role. When something comes along that's funny, like The Rocker-I mean, you know, that's not a real difficult decision. And they pay you what you want.

Paul Fischer: What about working with Rainn?

Jeff Garlin: Rainn is a consummate professional, because I am not. [LAUGHTER] I have ADD and I'm annoying. And he was very patient with me as he was starring in his first movie.

Paul Fischer: Does that ADD get you into trouble on set?

Jeff Garlin: It can, yes.

Paul Fischer: If you don't have patience, then how did you survive doing Wall-E?

Jeff Garlin: Well, Wall-E-well, you know, it was a couple things. One was - you know, no offense to The Rocker, but Wall-E will be talked about for generations. And maybe The Rocker will, too, but not in the same way. I mean, Wall-E is just classic. Hall of fame. You know, I don't know where The Rocker'sgoing toend up. But it's like - you know, it's simple to follow Andrew Stanton's ways of doing things. You know, you have - he wrote it. It's his vision. You know, I sign on to do The Rocker, they have a director for hire. Different people write the script. You know, you're sitting in your trailer. There's problems with this, problems with that. So it's very easily to get - very easy to get distracted. But when you're dealing with somebody who is a visionary, such as Andrew, it's difficult to get distracted if you're involved with that.

Paul Fischer: Which is presumably why you like also to create your own work, if you can. If you're able to do that.

Jeff Garlin: Definitely. I would say that I'm not boring or distracted - you know, if I'm creating my own work or doing my own work. As an actor for hire, it's all very distracting. Unless - you know, I'm an actor for hire, and Woody Allen or Albert Brooks or somebody who's a - you know, their story, their thing, their passion. Then it's hard to lose focus.

Paul Fischer: One of the great things about Wall-E is that it does have these universal themes that Stanton explored in Nemo. And clearly takes various steps further in this film. Was the film's environmentally-friendly message something that you did look at and say, "This is something I want to be a part of, because it does have something to say?"

Jeff Garlin: No.

Paul Fischer: Really?

Jeff Garlin: I didn't care. I mean, I like it. You know, I like the message. But I didn't care. You know, I thought, "This is just good." I don't care about messages. I only care about good. And if there's a message thrown in with the good, great. But the message is not necessary. It would be a great movie with just the love story.

Paul Fischer: I thought the love story aspect of this movie was quite beautiful.

Jeff Garlin: Yes, exactly. That's what draws me into the movie. Not the other aspects. I mean, you know, I find the other aspects interesting, but not enough to make me say yes. And not enough to make me say, "That's the reason I'm doing this."

Paul Fischer: I mean, obviously you weren't privy to a lot of the visuals when you were making it.

Jeff Garlin: I didn't want to be privy to the visuals. They actually offered to show me things, and I didn't want to see them. I wanted to see the movie at the end.

Paul Fischer: So, what surprised you when you saw the movie for the first time?

Jeff Garlin: I can't even say the word "surprised." I mean, I was shocked. My jaw was on the ground. Besides how great the animation was, just how important my character was. I had no idea. I knew that there'd be some talking, because I did the talking in the studio, but, you know, you don't know what they're going to use. I had images as I was doing this of being down to nothing, and not having much to do in the movie.

Paul Fischer: I mean, how satisfying is it for you to know that you're playing a hero?

Jeff Garlin: Oh, my God. It's completely satisfying. The only way it could be more fulfilling and satisfying is if I did it live action.

Paul Fischer: That'll be next.

Jeff Garlin: Yeah! Well, yeah. [LAUGHTER]

Paul Fischer: Have you signed up for anything else?

Jeff Garlin: What's going on? What do I have? No. Just this one movie that I'm waiting on to get the final green light. I've gotten - you know, until you get the green light green light, all the green lights leading up to it are hopeful, but they're - you know, you can die of hope here.

Paul Fischer: Is that the green light for the film that you'regoing todirect?

Jeff Garlin: Direct, yeah.

Paul Fischer: And can you talk a little bit about what kind of film this is going to be?

Jeff Garlin: I don't talk about anything until I'm actually doing it, or it's done.

Paul Fischer: So you'll talk to me once you've signed on the dotted line.

Jeff Garlin: No, I'll talk to you once I'm working on it or finished with it.


Starring: Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris
Screenwriter: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris
Composer: Thomas Newman
Genre: Action/Adventure

What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off?

Academy Award-winning writer-director Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo") and the inventive storytellers and technical geniuses at Pixar Animation Studios ("The Incredibles," "Cars," "Ratatouille") transport moviegoers to a galaxy not so very far away for a new computer-animated cosmic comedy about a determined robot named WALL-E.

After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realize that WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet's future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, WALL-E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most exciting and imaginative comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen.

Joining WALL-E on his fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future, is a hilarious cast of characters including a pet cockroach, and a heroic team of malfunctioning misfit robots.


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