Although he’s been appearing in movies and television for twenty years, you may not know the name Tyler Labine just yet even if you did see him in one of the summer’s breakout hits, Rise of the Planet of the Apes playing a scientist at James Franco’s research labs. That was a fairly small role but Labine also stars in two movies that have been very popular on the film festival circuit, both of them opening this September and offering proof that Labine is more than ready to break out into the big time.
First up is A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, a raunchy R-rated indie by former Letterman writers Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck. It stars Jason Sudeikis as a 30-something guy who throws parties for his friends at his father’s Hamptons home every summer, but when the house is put on the market, his foul-mouthed and depraved best friend Mike, played by Labine, suggests they throw an orgy. Rather than just being a typical low-brow sex comedy full of T & A, it’s actually a rather brilliant look at long-time friendships and how the introduction of sex changes everything – like Friends with Benefits times six. It has an amazing cast that includes Leslie Bibb, Lucy Punch, Will Forte, Nick Kroll, Lake Bell, Martin Starr, Michelle Borth, Lindsay Sloane and Angela Sarafyan. It premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival as the Closing Night gala and Labine pulls out a performance on par with John Belushi in Animal House.
Last year, Labine played one of the title characters in Eli Craig’s horror-comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil–Alan Tudyk plays the other half–a clever spin on the classic “college kids get slaughtered by hillbillies in the woods” horror sub-genre. In this one, the hillbillies are fairly sweet guys whose intentions are entirely misunderstood by a group of kids who have seen too many horror movies and expect the worst from them. It was one of the favorites at the 2010 Sundance and SXSW Film Festivals.
ComingSoon.net got on the phone with Labine last week to talk about the two movies, both of which have been finished for some time, and to find out what he has planned for the future.
ComingSoon.net: I’m glad I got a chance to talk to you because I loved “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” after seeing it at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere.
Tyler Labine: Oh, you were at Tribeca? That was a pretty fun little screening.
CS: That was a lot of fun. Yeah, I’ve seen it again since then and I also saw “Tucker & Dale.” And of course, like everyone else, I’ve seen “Planet of the Apes.”
Labine: Alright! Yeah, that movie kinda went well beyond anyone’s expectations I think.
CS: I actually was on the set of “Planet of the Apes” and they never mentioned your character at all, so I was really surprised to see you since I’d already seen you in the other movies. I was like, “Oh, cool. It’s that guy.”
Labine: Yeah, that one was pretty much a coincidence that I was even in that movie just because I’m from Vancouver and it was shot in Vancouver and I think they were kinda like, “Oh, look. We get this local hire here for free basically.” (Laughs) They took full advantage of the fact that I’m from there. I think it all got sorta swept under the rug that I was even in the movie until it came out. People were like, “Oh, that guy. I’ve seen him lately.”
CS: The funny thing is you probably shot the movie last of the three we’re going to talk about.
Labine: I did, I did. Actually, Will Forte just walked into the room and he’s giving the finger. Yeah, we shot this movie three years ago and then I shot “Tucker & Dale” two years ago and then we shot “Apes” last summer.
CS: We’re going to talk about the older movies first or rather, the ones which are about to come out, so let’s talk about “Orgy” first. I understand Peter and Alex wrote this back when you were a teenager I guess.
Labine: Yeah, they wrote it, I think it’s honestly like 14 years ago or something like that.
CS: I had no idea the movie was shot that long ago, so if you shot it three years ago, when did you first find out about it?
Labine: That’s a good question. I think I probably heard about it five years ago. (Laughs) Let’s say four. I think I heard about the script, I didn’t have anything to do with it. Then a table read came around and I heard about it then, and the script sort of got a little bit of validity. I think at one point Vince Vaughn was like, attached to do it like, 10 years ago. Then, it sort of like died and then came back. So when it came back people were like, “Oh, I remember that script.” Then you kinda heard through the grapevine and I auditioned for it and then I got it. We didn’t shoot it for quite a while after I auditioned for it, so I’d say like, four years ago, I probably heard about the movie.
CS: When you saw the script, was it called “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” even back then?
Labine: It sure was, yeah. I remember it was sort of a bit of a deterrent to be honest. I was like, “Oh good, this f*cking movie, a tittie comedy.” I was sort of mad at my agents before I even cracked the page then I opened it up and started reading and I was like, “Oh, this is actually really good.” Then it just turned into a total page turner for me and I thought it was hilarious. I didn’t know anybody else really thought it was that hilarious. Then I auditioned for it, did the table read and Will Forte was there, Lucy Kaplan and a bunch who didn’t end up being in the movie, but I was like, “Oh, I guess I lot of people thought this was funny and worthwhile.” Then we eventually made it and I think it is a funny movie.
CS: It’s crazy you shot this three years ago, because Jason hadn’t done any of these other movies, and they assembled this amazing cast of actors who have just been exploding in the past year.
Labine: Yeah, it’s almost like the perfect time to put this movie out. Jason has really sort of blown up and it works out really well for me. It looks like I’m the busiest actor in town, but that’s not true. (laughs) All three of these movies coming out all around the same time, it’s a pretty awesome little coincidence.
CS: They’re all kind of daring in some ways, but especially the way this one deals with sex and relationships. I feel that many people can easily relate to it. Did you know any of the other actors before you did this? Did you guys have any time to spend together before shooting?
Labine: Did I know anybody going into it? I don’t think I did. No, I didn’t know anybody. It’s funny because now it’s hard for me to remember that, because I’m friends with a lot of these people like Will Forte and I maintain a friendship and Lindsay Sloane and Lake Bell and Nick Kroll, we’re all kinda buddies now, so it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t know them. But yeah, I didn’t know a single person going into this.
CS: “Planet of the Apes” isn’t a comedy, but both this and “Tucker & Dale” are very funny, so had you always leaned towards funnier material or were you just an actor who found his niche with really good comedic roles?
Labine: I would like to say the latter of the two. (Laughs) I do consider myself to be an actor, but I do love doing comedy. I think I’m really drawn toward the comedies, and that’s where I got my chops when I was younger, but as you get older and more exposed as an actor, the more you kinda want to show people that you have chops and that you can vary your performance. I’m now starting to really gravitate toward things where I get to do both. But “Apes” originally was that, the character was a little bit more of an overgrown man-child. We shot some stuff that was sort of comedic in tone, and Rupert Wyatt, while we were doing reshoots was just, “This movie’s not funny.” (Laughs) I was like, “Ah, I get it,” but we reshot and added in some new scenes for me so it wasn’t like I just started getting cut out. The comedic stuff did get cut out, but initially it was a good mix of both, I got to do some comedy and some drama in that movie, and that’s the actor’s wet dream. That’s what I’m looking for.
CS: Was there a lot of improvisation on this or was it already a funny script and you just stuck to it? You obviously have a good group of comedians who are good at improv like Will and Jason and Nick Kroll.
Labine: There was a lot of improv. I would even say that it was just fairly open and collaborative all the time between Pete and Alex and the cast. Things were regimented, and we stuck to the script, but we were always allowed to sort of go out and try what we wanted to try. We would just talk about it and we’d do different takes. It was like, truly, truly a huge collaborative effort between the whole cast, and then Martin Starr walked in and everything changed. (Laughs) He’s right here. Yeah, it was definitely really collaborative. We were nurtured and we felt safe to try whatever we wanted to try.
CS: You spend a lot of the movie in various states of undress, so what was that like? I don’t know if you’ve had to do that in any other movie, but you definitely spend a lot of it undressed in this movie. So, do you have to ask them to clear the set except for the necessary crew? How did you go about doing those scenes?
Labine: Yeah, there was lots of little cock socks and privacy patches and horrible snacks. It was odd and we were all initially pretty uncomfortable with it. I think after like two days of doing it, people were just starting to not be as eager to get their robes on after a titty show. You’re just a little more comfortable just being around some pretty skimpy-looking outfits. (chuckles) We all got really comfortable around each other, plus there was a little bit of drinking going on on set. Martin told me to be honest that my hand is on my cock right now.
CS: Oh, nice. Thanks for sharing that. (Laughs) I was going to ask about that because obviously they must’ve wanted to shoot the actual orgy later. What was that like and how many days did it take to do that and was there actual drinking going on?
Labine: Yeah, we shot the orgy for like three days I think, I don’t even remember. I think it was like three days total of making out and f*cking in the pool and all sorts of stuff. (Laughs) It was left to the end, which everyone thought was a really good idea, but it also gave us time to let all our insecurities grow during the shoot leading up to it. I think a lot of people started getting carried away in their head about how weird it was going to be and on the first day of shooting all the girls were like, “We need some champagne.” All the guys were like, “We need some tequila!” We all loosened up a little bit, maybe even too much, and shot it, and then it was like “Oh yeah, this isn’t that big of a deal. We’ve had sex before…” – not with each other, but we’ve all had sex before.
CS: This was actually shot in North Carolina doubling for the Hamptons. Did they actually shoot it in the summer or were you shooting off-season when it was really cold?
Labine: No, no, no, it was hot as sh*t. We were in North Carolina and it was definitely hot. Then we went to the East Hamptons to shoot the last week of shooting and in New York a little bit, which I think a lot of that stuff didn’t even end up in the film.
CS: I’m really curious about what’s going to be on the DVD that didn’t make it into theatrical release because here’s gotta be a ton of stuff.
Labine: I think there will be. We had to approve a gag reel and a behind the scenes reel. There’s some really good, funny stuff, you know? We were definitely horsing around a lot, and we were just goofing around so much. There was always somebody shooting the video camera or stills. I think we have some good little Easter Eggs and bonuses for ya.
CS: With “Tucker & Dale,” I imagine it’s a similar type of thing because you have a lot of actors on location, but you had the home court advantage because it was shot in Vancouver, right?
Labine: Well, no, it was shot in Calgary. Wait, we’re talking about “Tucker & Dale,” right? Yeah, that was shot in Calgary, and it was the weirdest. I’ve never seen weather like this in June anywhere in my life. It hailed the size of small golf balls for two days at the beginning of June. Then on the second day of shooting I had to jump into a frozen lake and it was supposed to be the middle of the summer and that kinda sucked. It was in the middle of the Calgary Stampede so there was just a lot of drunk cowboys around all the time.
CS: That was literally what I was thinking for “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” that you’d have to shoot that in the off-season since shooting on the beach during the summer would be tough.
Labine: North Carolina is a bit of a touristy destination, but there are lots of places you can find that aren’t packed beaches. I mean, I’m pretty sure it was the summer. (Asking the other actors in the room with him) Does anybody remember? Was it the summer when we shot “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy”? It was hot. It was summer, right? Yeah, it was the end of the summer I think, so maybe some of the people had migrated away from the beach by that point, but it was definitely hot.
CS: How did you end up finding out about “Tucker & Dale”? I mean, it’s a really inventive film because it’s a clever take on a horror sub-genre we’ve seen so many times, and Dale’s a great character for you, as well.
Labine: Yeah, I loved it because it was a little like stripping away a lot of my tricks, you know? Eli was very adamant about me doing it when I met him and I was like, “Oh cool.” I couldn’t really figure out why he had chosen to cast me. Eli wanted me to go against what I normally do and I thought that was really cool. He was showing me a show of confidence and he was a first-time feature director and we were like, “Hey man, take a chance on me, I’ll take a chance on you.” That’s an ABBA song I think, but we really gave each other the freedom to try something new, and he let me sorta strip away all my little comedic tricks. I really liked that. It was fun. I ended up being just sort of a big lovable dumb animal.
CS: Did they actually build a lot of stuff in Calgary? Or did they find places and dress them up?
Labine: They built the cabin. Very intentionally, it’s sort of Raimi-esque, and it all was just shot on location down in like a field in Calgary basically. Then we found a little small wooded area that was manageable, right by a cool river and it was neat. I think they shot a couple of series in the same place like “Lonesome Dove” and some other Canadian cowboy series, so the little town was already built there. That’s where we ate lunch. It was fun.
CS: Was it a very similar vibe as “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy”? I imagined that you and Alan would’ve been kept away from the rest of the cast, or was that not the case? Were you all together?
Labine: Well, we didn’t shoot on the same days as a lot of the cast. Even if we did, they were there in the morning and we were there at night. The only time we shot with them was when they were all dying (laughs) and they were being covered in blood, makeup effects. I think in total, we were probably on set with the college kids maybe three or four times, except for obviously the climax with all of us in the cabin, but that was all shot in one day and the movie was shot so quickly. It was a little bit… it was tense. (Laughs) It was scary how fast it was shot.
CS: It’s a great role, and you also end up with great love interests in Katrina Bowden and Lake Bell.
Labine: Yeah, I know, not bad, right? Who knew? Pretty good for a chubby white boy from Canada.
CS: How do you end up hooking up with some of these first-time directors? I notice that a lot your upcoming movies are also with first timers and that’s kind of risky for an actor, but you’ve been very lucky with the ones you worked with so far.
Labine: Honestly, first-time directors, if they have a really good script–which all of these directors I’ve worked with, they’ve had really great scripts going into it–if the material is good and you meet with them and talk with them and they’re on the page that you hope they’re on. The tone of a first film, a director who’s shooting their first film with a really great script, they give a sh*t. They’re really gonna give a sh*t about the product. I feel like their energy is really untapped and they just kinda come at it full blown. I think that’s why a lot of first films are really good. A lot of sophomore attempts are not so great. (Laughs)
CS: So you have two other movies you’ve shot, “Rapturepalooze” and “Lumpy.” Are these movies we’ll see fairly soon? What’s your take on them?
Labine: I think sooner than later. “Lumpy,” probably I would say some time in the new year and then “Rapturepalooza,” I’ve already heard that they’ve been screening it around town, and apparently, it’s “laugh your balls off” funny, so I’d keep your eyes peeled for that one, and “Lumpy”– from the people who have seen it–are saying that it’s really, really good and I can’t wait to see it, but the director Ted is so anal about it. He doesn’t want the actors to see it until it’s perfect.
CS: Do you have any idea what you’re going to do next? You did quite a bit of television, so have you been shying away from that to do movies?
Labine: No, I just actually sold a show to Fox. Ryan Reynolds and Allan Loeb and myself and Tim Dowling sold an idea to Fox and I’m going to star in it. It’s called “Guidance,” and we’re going to shoot it I guess probably in the fall. It’s a pilot with Fox, so yeah, I still love doing TV.
CS: Good luck with that, man, and good luck with your other movies.
Labine: Thank you.
CS: Over the course of your three movies, I’ve become a big fan and I feel like I have to go back now and watch all the other movies you’ve done, because I’m sure I’ve seen a lot of them and I’ll go, “Oh, yeah… it’s that guy!”
Labine: Sweet, yeah. I’m glad you liked the movies, man. I’m really proud of them, so it means a lot to hear that somebody else likes them, too.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy opens in select cities on Friday, September 2. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is now playing on Video on Demand and will open theatrically in select cities for midnight screenings on September 30. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is also currently playing in theaters.