Anyone looking for the next big thing in comedy need look no further than Dan Fogler, who appears in two high-profile comedies in the next month. First up is Balls of Fury , the ping pong comedy by “Reno 911!” creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, in which he plays Randy Daytona, a former Olympic table tennis champ who had a major set-back that put him on the sidelines for 19 years until he’s given a chance to get revenge and save his name. Four weeks later, Fogler stars with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba in the raunchy sex comedy Good Luck Chuck, and he has two more comedies which will come out early next year.
ComingSoon.net had a chance to speak to Fogler when he attended his first Comic-Con International in San Diego last month.
ComingSoon.net: Have Tom and Ben prepped you for the Comic-Con experience yet?
Dan Fogler: This will be my first time. They say that it’s growing, it’s growing!
CS: Last year, they were on Sunday in one of the smaller rooms, but this year they’re on Saturday in the biggest hall, which holds 6,000 people.
Fogler: Oh, nice!
CS: So it will be whatever size audience you’ve played to on Broadway times thirty.
Fogler: Exactly. I’m glad I did that just to prepare.
CS: When I met you in New York in March (Focus gave a few journalists a preview of the movie back then), “Good Luck Chuck” was still on the horizon but it was moved around so much that you’re now going to have your first two big movie roles released in a month.
Fogler: They’re spaced out enough. “Balls of Fury” is Labor Day, “Good Luck Chuck” is in September and then in January, “Fanboys” and “Kids in America” (come out). I think they may push “Fanboys” up. There’s been a lot of excitement after Comic-Con.
CS: Were you there at the panel they did for it?
Fogler: I heard about it.
CS: I know you were on Broadway for a number of years and you won a Tony for “The Putnam County Spelling Bee” so was “Balls of Fury” the first movie you made?
Fogler: Well, no. I did a movie called “The Marconi Brothers” and I had a small role in “School for Scoundrels” just to get prepared and then “Fanboys” came, so that was the first one I did, and then “Balls of Fury.”
CS: There was a time when “Good Luck Chuck” was going to be coming out before both of them.
Fogler: Yeah, yeah, but they shift, things change when they’re trying to jockey for position. “When’s the best time to bring these things out?” They’ve constantly switched positions.
CS: Did Ben see you in “Spelling Bee” originally? How did they originally find you to play Randy Daytona?
Fogler: I think the people from Rogue saw me in “Spelling Bee” and said, “You have to see this man” and they basically showed Ben and Tom something like my acceptance speech, so that’s all they knew, and they were like, “Wow, this is cool.” It wasn’t until I met the two of them that I was like, “I’m on board”, because I was like “Balls of Fury? What kind of movie is this?” (laughs) I just saw it the other day with friends and family and it’s proved to be quite hysterical.
CS: Everything I’ve seen so farincluding unfinished footage they showed at Comic-Con a year agolooked funny. What was it about “Spelling Bee” that made them think you’d be right to play a rocker/ping pong player?
Fogler: I think it was sort of the underdog winning the race kind of thing, the “Rocky” thing. I talked about feeling like Rocky in the acceptance speech, I think, because “Spelling Bee” was such a tiny American Dream snowball type of situation. I think they read into it and thought .
CS: “This is the perfect underdog guy! If he can win a spelling bee, he can win a ping pong tournament!”
CS: I’m sure you’ve been asked this question by every single person who has asked you a question when it comes to “Balls of Fury,” but I have to ask you anyway because I’m sure the world wants to know the answer: “How much ping pong training did you actually get to the level to play this part?”
Fogler: We had so much. It was like boot camp to the point where it was like, it got to the point where we were being trained by Olympic medalists, and there’s some CG in the movie, but if you look at my stuff, it’s all me.
CS: You mean it’s you, but the ball is CGI.
Fogler: No, it’s all me. That’s the real ball. Then there’s times where it’s several balls, but it’s still me.
CS: And if I ask Tom and Ben that, they would concur?
Fogler: Yeah, they’d support it. Have you talked to them yet? No, they’ll tell you. I became a master. I beat everybody on set. I beat my own masters, and then it got to the point where I was hurting people playing so I had to retire the paddle.
CS: And you’ve decided to keep on acting rather than shifting your career towards something more ping pong based? There’s not a lot of people who play ping pong, but there’s a lot of actors obviously.
Fogler: (sighs) Listen, man Daniel Day Lewis, not that I’m anything like him, but he became a brilliant cobbler .but he’s still acting, isn’t he?
CS: Once in a while. When he doesn’t have too many shoes to fix, then he goes, “I think I better go make a movie now that I have some time off.”
Fogler: He was mostly doing shoes for a while there. (starts laughing)
CS: I’ve met him a few times and next time, I should ask him about that.
Fogler: He’s making good money at Foot Locker now.
CS: I’m not sure he has a sense of humor about that stuff, so maybe I won’t ask about that. So you also have “Good Luck Chuck” and you have one line in that which they included in the footage shown at ShoWest and it KILLED. Cracked everyone up. How is it making a movie with Dane where you essentially get to be the comic relief at times?
Fogler: Oh, that’s interesting. There was a trade-off there, because I think we work off each other, but there were times where I have to be the straight man for him. He’s got this intense Steve Martin “happy feet” kind of energy, so when he’s rolling, you have to just sort of sit back and let him get it out of his system. Then there are times when he was a great straight man. That was a lot of fun. It’s like the Bernie character from “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” By Mamet? It’s like the devil on the shoulder, you know?
CS: I think anyone who’s going to see “Good Luck Chuck,” any Mamet reference will go way over their head.
Fogler: Ah, yeah. I guess so. I’m going to keep putting it out there.
CS: I’m sure there will be one person who hears that and goes, “Ooo, Mamet. I’m going to see ‘Good Luck Chuck.'” Although your background is as a stage actor, you’ve immediately gone to the comedy niche in movies. Do you have the desire to go do something very dramatic?
Fogler: Yeah, definitely.
CS: What’s that movie “Kids in America” about?
Fogler: I’m really excited about “Kids in America.” It’s like a John Hughes kinda feeling movie, takes place in the ’80s. It’s Topher Grace’s people, and yeah, man, it’s like “Risky Business” meets “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” I’m Topher’s friend, I’m his buddy. I guess I’m like the Ducky of the film. (Note: That’s a “Pretty in Pink” reference, kids.) You have to make your own decision when you see it.
CS: Did you know that the guy who wrote “Good Luck Chuck” (Josh Stolberg) wrote and directed a movie called “Kids in America” too?
Fogler: Yeah, yeah I’m wondering if they’re going to keep the same title. Ours is very appropriate. I’m not sure how appropriate theirs was.
CS: It didn’t do very much business so I’m not sure they’ll need to change it in order to avoid confusion. You have those two and then “Fanboys,” which revolves around the whole “Stars Wars” craze. I haven’t seen it or the panels they’ve done. How did that come about?
Fogler: That was literally like the first thing that came across my desk when I started looking at films, and I was like “Oh, My God!” It basically pays homage to every single movie I’ve ever loved, and it’s about these four guys who love “Star Wars.” It’s ’98, so they grew up on the first three that we all know, “Star Wars” through “Jedi,” and then one of them gets sick, and they decide that they’re going to a last hurrah, go across country and break into the Lucas ranch, and steal a copy of “Episode I” and watch it before anybody else. That was a no-brainer. I was like “I have to do this movie.”
CS: Did you get a chance to meet George Lucas?
Fogler: I didn’t get a chance to meet him, but he might make a little Hitchcock appearance in that.