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After Being ‘Arrested,’ Will Arnett Says ‘Let’s Go To Prison’

Former Arrested Development star Will Arnett showered Hollywood.com with info about his new film Let’s Go to Prison and made sure to keep a tight grip on the soap.

Hollywood.com: With a script called Let’s Go to Prison you expected that there were going to be some man-love scenes in there, right?
Will Arnett: First of all, when it said Let’s Go to Prison I said, “Let’s! Let’s just do that.” There is some man-love in there. Some of it is by force initially, but there is a touching love story in the middle their too that needed to be talked about. People talk about prison rape, but people don’t talk about prison love enough. We needed to get that out there.

HW: How deep into your research did you get on this?
Sometimes it was too deep and sometimes it was just right.

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HW: Now, you’re a married guy and you have a regular life, and then one day you have to go and snuggle with a man the size of your costar, Chi McBride. How do you work that intimacy out beforehand?
Well, you know what, you don’t. I guess if I were like a really method and serious dramatic actor I would probably do some sort of research on that, but I was able to just go with the reality of the moment. The reality of the moment was that Chi McBride is a really huge dude and he’s very imposing and it was great. It really worked because he instantly created a sense of fear in me [Laughs]. We shot this one scene. There’s a scene in the movie where I am first kidnapped and brought into his cell and he is the leader of one whole faction in the prison, and I’m brought into his cell and he sort of woos me after I’ve been sold to him by Dax’s [Shepard] character. We shot that on Chi’s first day. So we didn’t really have a lot of opportunity to get to know each other. We were kind of thrown in together, and so it actually kind of really worked in the scene. I was generally just able to be in the reality of what was happening which meant that I was very afraid.

HW: And did you come home and have your wife Amy Poehler say, “I smell another man’s cologne on you?”
WA: [Laughs] Luckily we made that movie up in Illinois and so my wife wasn’t there the time when we shot that. So I was able to just go home and shower like Karen Silkwood, just scrubbing myself with the thought of another man’s scent being on me.

HW: What was it about this script that made you want to do it when I’m sure you’re getting offered a zillion things?
WA: Well, we made this movie a year and a half ago, and what I liked about it was that it was sort of a different dirty little movie. It was a little bit subversive and it’s R rated comedy. So we could kind of go a little further with some of the stuff and Bob Odenkirk who’s directing it obviously has a great comedic mind. So it was an opportunity to work with him and I guess I just wanted to go and do something a little different. It’s a smaller movie and it felt like something that I could sort of get my head around a bit. It wasn’t very daunting. We had the opportunity to go up to Joliet, Illinois. We made this movie for $4 million and so it’s a really small movie. So, the fact that it’s actually getting released by a major studio is first and foremost a little surprising because it’s not the traditional kind of studio fair. Then, just the fact that it is really the little movie that could. It’s all very sort of shocking.

HW: You and your wife are going to be working together soon, right?
WA: Yeah, we actually just worked together on Blades of Glory which comes out in March and we’re really excited about that. That’s a really fun movie.

HW: Is that the first time that you two have gotten to work together on a big movie like that?
On a big scale, yeah. I mean, she came and worked on Arrested of course and I actually went and did a little bit on her movie that she did in December called Spring Breakdown, but in terms of actually costarring in a big, huge thumping Hollywood studio movie it was a first. It was really, really fun. We play an incestuous brother and sister and we’re the villains in the film. So on a lot of levels we got to be awful people which we love doing because we’re kind of awful people.

HW: Are you insane together at home—“Honey, listen to this new comedy bit I have”—or are you completely normal like every other couple?
WA: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’re just like – there is nothing crazy going on at our house. We’re pretty boring. We’re almost as boring as I am right now. It’s not “Bits Ahoy” at home at all. It’s like, “Did you walk the dogs? I asked you to take the trash out. Did you Tivo Lost?” It’s just the sort of run of the mill stuff. It’s pretty mundane.

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HW: And Blades of Glory is your induction into that whole Will Ferrell group. Did you feel comfortable doing that and are you excited that you’ll now have at least cameo roles in the next several films that they do?
Well, one can only hope, right? Both of us were so happy to be included in that and to be asked to do that, included with Will and he’s such an amazingly funny actor and an amazingly funny guy and so gracious. He’s sort of a great captain of the ship especially on that movie. He runs a real tight set, but just to have him sort of bringing us in and let us do that. We were honestly very psyched to be able to do it and very flattered. Hopefully that will translate into 300 cameos.

HW: Was comedy the thing that you wanted from the very beginning, or did you have dramatic aspirations?
WA: I started and I wanted to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor. I really wanted that, and maybe it was that desire that people thought was funny [Laughs]. So it kind of went the other way for me. When I started I wanted to do all sorts of serious stuff, and necessity meant that I had to read for sitcoms and stuff and as I started to read and do a few pilots here and there I got the sense that maybe I could do that in this direction. So I never saw myself as comic or a comedian. I don’t know. I think at a certain point you don’t really think about yourself in the abstract, but once you get over 30 you’re like, “Well, whatever.” You don’t take yourself so seriously anymore. You just try to go out and have a good time and do whatever, do stuff that you like and it just so happened this way. I wish that I had had a background in sketch comedy. I never really knew enough about it. I never really had enough exposure to it, but I’m such a fan of it and I love watching sketch comedy and improv, and I’m such a fan of my wife’s theater Upright Citizen’s Brigade. I go see that whenever I’m in New York. I’m always there every Sunday night. It’s on 26th and 8th. So I will be there if you want to find me, because I’m really just such a fan of what those folks do.

HW: Do you think that it’ll come full circle in that someone like Will Ferrell is now doing a serious role in Stranger Than Fiction– do you see that happening for you?
WA: I do see myself doing Stranger than Fiction II. Yeah. Will will be priced out for that. They won’t be able to afford him and I will step in and do “the deuce,” as we’re calling it.

HW: Straight to video though, right?
Straight to laser disc. And then to VHS and then to DVD and then eight track and then in theaters.

HW: And then the voice. How much work did the voice get you?
WA: By “work” do you mean ladies?

HW: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
It got me a ton of “work.” My dad’s got a pretty deep voice and so I guess I inherited that, and mine also got worked on. But I think that having a little bit of a deeper or gravely voice when I was in my twenties maybe sort of worked against me because I had a real baby face, and not to suggest that I don’t now currently have the face of a baby, but I think that it worked against me for a while because it didn’t really fit the way that I looked. I had to grow into my voice.

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HW: Obviously, Arrested Development was the huge breakout role for you. How did your Hollywood life change after that, and what was it like getting to that level that every actor works to get to?
Yeah, it was funny. You don’t really actually sit back probably enough and think about it. Once I started working on Arrested you just have your head down and you’re working, and then when Arrested was on I started getting some movie stuff. Then when it ended I continued to get all of these great opportunities to work on different things, and I don’t think that I really sat back and took a good look at it. I’m definitely very grateful—I should say that much— to work with really funny people and really talented people. It’s really rewarding. I think that if I were probably ten years younger I would screw it up and not appreciate at all, but I have the benefit of being a little bit over thirty, just enough over thirty to understand that it’s a position that I’m really happy to be in.

HW: With Arrested Development there’ll always be that intensely loyal group of fans who want it to come back. I know there has been some talk of a movie. Anything new to report on that?
Nothing really new to report on the movie front. I think that really is a decision that Mitch Huritz would have to make, and he’d have to feel inspired and have the wherewithal to try and put that together. I don’t know if that’s where he’s at right now, and obviously all of us have such a love for that show. It was such an incredible experience and we appreciate what a great opportunity it was. The chemistry was really great between the cast and the writers and between everyone. So to be able to be back in that environment at some point, I don’t think that any of us would necessarily say no to. It would be something that would just have to obviously come from Mitch.

HW: What was the best part of working in a real prison and what was the worst part?
WA: Well, I don’t know if there was a best part. The best part of a real prison? I mean, there is nothing real great about prison. It’s prison. It’s a jail. The best part I guess would be that you had that built in fear because we were there and there were still guards there, and it was still run by the state of Illinois. So, as an actor you still got the fear – if we were shooting this on a lot over in Culver City it wouldn’t be nearly as scary, but driving into that crappy joint—and the people of Joliet, Illinois are very nice people, but that’s a crappy town, at least around where the prison is. I don’t want to insult anyone. I mean, I do, but I don’t want to insult them. So, that would probably be the best part. The worst part is that you’re in Joliet, Illinois.

HW: What’s the closest you’ve been to being thrown in jail?
WA: Probably being stopped for like having beer when I was a kid, when I was a punk teenager. I was such an innocent looking good that they actually like let me off and keep the beer. I always defer to people in authority. I have such a nice and healthy fear of jail.

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