With the DVD and Blu-ray of Extract hitting next Tuesday, writer/director Mike Judge kindly asked ComingSoon.net to take part in a special dinner to celebrate the release, chatting about both his film and television work, moving between animation and live action and where he might be headed in the future.
Judge, whose comedic work encompasses TV shows like “Beavis and Butt-head” and “King of the Hill” as well as films like Office Space and Idiocracy, is the first to admit that he can be soft-spoken in an interview. That’s not the case, it turns out, in a nearly four-hour dinner conversation over course after course at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, CA, reminiscing about every aspect of his career.
“I think ['Beavis and Butt-head'] was a scapegoat served on a silver platter before it even went on the air,” laughs Judge about his earlier work, “That’s why it was always just really nice when someone like [David] Letterman wasn’t afraid to say he liked it.”
Letterman, who Judge also credits as, to this day, being a huge supporter of his with Extract, was among Judge’s celebrity “early-adopters” that included Stephen King, Bernardo Bertolucci, Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando.
“I heard Johnny Depp, when they were doing ‘Don Juan [DeMarco]‘ that he would be Beavis [and Brando would be Butt-head]… There were a few people who would talk about it in interviews and stuff… Which made people say, ‘Wait a second,’ and then go back and take another look.”
Of course, “Beavis and Butt-head” had no end to controversy when it was on the air. Judge recalls ordeals with censorship including, most surreally, an attack from Senator Fritz Hollings who famously referred to the duo as “Beaver and Buffcoat” on the Senate floor. But even the celebrity support caused some trouble at times.
“[Frank Zappa] was another one who made a really nice quote about ‘Beavis and Butt-head.’ It was, like, on his deathbed. He said three or four really nice things when he was being interviewed. Then somebody said, ‘Put one of his videos on ‘Beavis and Butt-head’ and have them rag on it!’ I think he had said to have them do that. So I did it and I had this backlash from fans…”
“I was just trying to give him his dying wish,” Judge laughs, “But I just pissed everybody off.”
Though the name Beavis came from someone that Judge knew in real life, he swears that the similarities begin and end with just the name, one he may have ruined for future generations.
“My sister sent me this thing,” Judge says with a chuckle, “You know how newspapers list all the petitions being put up in the courthouse? It was something like ‘Jeremy Beavis. Petition to change last name.’”
Real life has always been a huge inspiration for Judge, who finds himself writing with actual people in mind rather than actors. In Extract, David Koechner brings to life an obnoxious neighbor who, in reality, was a woman that Judge couldn’t avoid when he lived near her. Gene Simmons, sans makeup, breathes life into a sleazy lawyer that Judge calls “a running sore of a human being.”
Judge’s inspiration doesn’t stop with people, though. Every now and then he’ll go through something and believes that a few scenarios may eventually mean a return for “Beavis and Butt-head” in one form or another.
“Things will come along. I had a thing where a rat had come into my kitchen. I came home and there was just this rat poop wherever I would go. He ripped up my bread and got into my countertop. I was just like wanting to kill this rat. I bought one of those Victory old school rat traps and I was just thinking Beavis and Butt-head versus a rat would be real good. Like, they’d set the trap and go, OH, right. Cheese.”
Down for the count, sadly, is Judge’s long-running “King of the Hill,” which aired its final episode this year. Unlike Beavis and Butt-head, Judge can’t imagine Hank Hill on the big screen.
“I don’t know if ‘King of the Hill’ lends itself to a movie… For whatever reason, it’s the same reason you wouldn’t make a ‘Bob Newhart Show’ movie.”
Looking to the future, Judge may be in the very, very early stages of a project with ‘King of the Hill’ collaborators John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, being eyed for Chris Elliot to star.
“[H]e moves to India to do a Bollywood movie and ends up working tech support,” explains Judge, “I’m a big Chris Elliot fan. Hollywood always tends to just think young, but when I was 17, Rodney Dangerfield was all the rage and he was pushing 50. ‘Caddyshack’ was just like, we couldn’t get enough… I think there’s people around like that, like Chris Elliot, that are just plain funny. He could read the phonebook and it’s funny.”
In the meantime, Judge is preparing for Extract to make its home video debut next week in an edition that includes a number of extended scenes, a deleted scene and a “making of” featurette. The film, which was in theaters this past summer, boasts an ensemble comedy cast of Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, and Ben Affleck, among many others. As Judge fans have proved in the past with both Office Space and Idiocracy, Judge’s jokes tend to gain an immortality with repeated viewings and have been even bigger hits on DVD than they were in theaters.
One thing that eagle-eyed viewers should watch out for is an alleged cameo by Office Space vet Gary Cole, one that is even listed on the actor’s IMDb profile but which is, in reality, just an arbitrarily placed extra with a striking similarity.
“I thought that nobody would notice,” says Judge, “but even in the editing room [people did]. People who have seen it once or twice, too. He looks just like he’s Gary Cole but with blonde hair…”
Extract hits DVD and Blu-ray on December 22nd!