Actor David Krumholtz has been a consistent presence in film and television for over two decades, from playing Wednesday’s camp boyfriend in Addams Family Values to Mr. Universe in Serenity, not to mention five years on the hit CBS show “Numb3rs.” He’s also been an important member of the Judd Apatow crew, appearing in “Freaks & Geeks,” Superbad, Walk Hard and This is the End, among others.
Now Krumholtz is taking his first big leap into animation by voicing the scientifically-oriented tenrec in the Dreamworks Animation series “All Hail King Julien,” which just made five new episodes available for streaming on Netflix. We got to have an exclusive chat with Krumholtz about his role in the series, his part in the Coen Brothers’ new film Hail, Caesar!, and working with old buddy Seth Rogen on 2016’s R-rated animated movie Sausage Party.
ComingSoon: Timo is an interesting character to enter this universe because he seems to have the strongest grasp on scientific reality, as opposed to everyone else who thinks he’s conjuring magic.
David Krumholtz: We’ve all got a little Timo in us, I guess, those of us who feel like we’re surrounded by fools and don’t suffer fools very easily.
CS: It’s interesting to see that kind of dialectic explored in a kids show, it’s like a friendlier “Inherit the Wind” with a Lemur and a Hedgehog.
Krumholtz: Wow! (laughs) That’s a leap, you just made a leap, but yeah I guess so. I don’t think the show is too heavy-handed when it comes to that stuff. Ultimately I think the character of Timo is there to ground the series in some sort of reality because the other characters are so closed-minded, they’re in their own little world. They’re all very sweet, they’re all a little wacky. They can’t comprehend the rest of the world let alone the rest of the universe, for sure. That’s too much for them. One day they find this guy who can understand it all. Timo is well-traveled, he’s been around the block a few times. He has a lot to teach these guys if they would only listen and not misinterpret what he’s saying to them, which they do quite a bit of. He does a lot for them and sort of finds a home amidst all these people who are not as smart as him.
CS: Do you think its important that any show, even one geared at 6-year-olds, work on multiple levels like that?
Krumholtz: Yeah, I think it is, especially a kids show because, God bless them, lots of family members have to watch alongside the kids. The parents, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, so the producers want to give them something that’s special for them as well. One of the great things about the show that attracted me to it is how funny it is for adults. How smart and funny and watchable it is. There’s a lot of family content that is strictly for kids and can get a little monotonous. Nowadays, especially with Netflix and streaming content, kids watch these things over and over and over again. After a while, a parent might need a stiff drink. But the great thing about this show is there’s a lot of humor for adults, there’s a lot of quick stuff that goes under or over your head that upon a second or third viewing you kind of catch up to it. I thought that was really appealing when I read the script, and the show just makes me laugh. I’ll be honest with you, I’m a comedy snob and I find some of this stuff crazy funny.
CS: Do you have any kids?
Krumholtz: I do, I have a little girl who’s about to turn a year old on Sunday.
CS: Did you have her in mind when you signed on to “All Hail King Julien”?
Krumholtz: Yes! Right when I started doing this was right about the time she was born, so it was kind of perfect timing. Got me out of the house which was great, and also I was feeling a little sentimental at the time. This is actually my first animated series and I’ve always wanted to do one and I always said if I ever have kids that it would be a high priority of mine to get on one, so it was perfect timing for me. She definitely influenced the choices I make and when I play Timo I feel like I’m trying to talk to her. She’s not old enough to watch TV yet, but hopefully one day she’ll watch it and she’ll appreciate it, it won’t traumatize her too much. I’m not just her father, I’m also a temrec from Madagascar.
CS: ‘Cause they’re not supposed to have any screen time until age 2, right?
Krumholtz: Supposedly, yeah. The truth is, and I think any parent will cop to this, you kind of give them a few minutes here and there when you just need a break. So the truth is we’ve been giving her two or three minutes of viewing time. She loves football, she can watch football all day, we don’t hide it from her, and nowadays with iPhones and iPads inevitably they’re gonna be exposed to some sort of screen at some point. I think it’s okay, as long they’re not sitting there for two or three hours drooling with their mouths open watching something mindless.
CS: Speaking of animation working on different levels, you have Sausage Party coming up. As an animation fan that’s a big deal, considering you can count the number of major R-rated animated films (that aren’t Japanese) on one hand. There’s Fritz the Cat, Heavy Metal…
Krumholtz: Yeah, you’ve got South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut.
CS: Oh yeah, of course.
Krumholtz: I guess technically Team America: World Police is kind of an animated film, but yeah there aren’t many for sure. I’ll be honest with you: It might be the funniest movie of all-time. I know that’s quite a lofty prediction, I understand, and I’m not one to make those kind of predictions. It was the funniest script I’ve ever read, and the stuff I’ve seen is just absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait for people to see it, and it’s R-rated but man, I’ll tell ya, it’s a loose NC-17. It’s pretty out there.
CS: What can you tell us about your Armenian Flatbread character Vash and how he fits into the larger world Seth and Evan are creating?
Krumholtz: I don’t think he’s Armenian. He’s Middle Eastern, I don’t think he’s Armenian. Lavash is a Middle Eastern cracker. It’s more from Azerbaijani and Turkey. Lavash is an angry blue lavash wrap. They didn’t get very creative with his name, they just named him Lavash. He’s an angry, disgruntled Lavash wrap who feels like his territory is being impinged upon. He’s got an axe to grind. That’s about all I can say about it.
CS: I can’t wait. It was super ballsy of Megan Ellison and Annapurna to fund that and hopefully it will get an audience so people will realize animation doesn’t have to just be for tots.
Krumholtz: I’m pretty sure it’s gonna get an audience, it’s really something, man. It’s really something! (laughs) I can’t wait for people to see it.
CS: In the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! you’re credited as a communist screenwriter. Is he some kind of composite of Sam Ornitz and Dalton Trumbo and all those Hollywood Ten guys?
Krumholtz: I think that’s the idea, yeah. The movie, I can’t really say too much about it except that it’s a real sort of nostalgia piece and it’s a comedy. It’s about how all those blacklisted writers were put in a very cumbersome situation and how they have to sort of figure their way out of it while staying true to what they believed, which is they believed in communism. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the film but that’s sort of one of the fun side stories. It was one of the greatest experiences to be able to work with those guys.
CS: I just finished reading Kirk Douglas’s book about Trumbo and the making of Spartacus, and as frightening as that time was a lot of those guys maintained this incredible irreverence in the face of the blacklist.
Krumholtz: Right. I think if anything they were made crazy. It allowed them to throw caution to the wind, if you will.
CS: Yes, they hid behind the pseudonyms and could subvert from within that.
Krumholtz: Yeah, absolutely.
CS: You actually wrote your own screenplay for Universal a few years ago, Attorneys at Raw, for you and Seth Rogen to play rappers. Is that still something in the ether?
Krumholtz: Unfortunately no. It came very close to getting made and then there was some craziness. You know it’s hard to get a movie made. We came close and I kinda hang my hat on that but at least we were close. Now it’s years later, the script needs a major major rewrite. I think the script rights have reverted back to me so I own it. It’s just a matter of whether I choose to do anything with it and right now I’ve got a bunch of things on my plate. It just seems like a huge uphill battle, I’m not sure I have the energy to fight it, especially with a new little baby. Time is at a premium.
CS: Gotta ask about Liberty Heights, because it’s a mournfully underrated, underseen film that’s just as vital to those Baltimore stories as Diner or Tin Men. Vanity Fair did a piece about how Diner was the most influential film of the last 30 years, and you were actually in a lot of those projects that it spawned, but you were also in that same diner with Barry Levinson directing you!
Krumholtz: Yeah, that’s right. That’s a random one that people don’t really ever mention. I love that movie and think it holds up 15 or 16 years later. He’s a special filmmaker and it was a privilege to play that character, a lot of fun too.
CS: I saw it at The Senator in Baltimore with a packed crowd opening weekend and it played brilliantly. It’s hard to understand how it fell off the radar.
Krumholtz: It’s a very specific film. It really was an independent film that was put out in maybe too many theaters around the country. Yeah, it just kind of flew under the radar, but if you look at the cast: Ben Foster, Adrian Brody… There’s some great heavy hitters in there. I’m not sure, but I’m glad you liked it!
(Photo Credit: WENN)