David Wain is best known for his work on the show Stella and The State. He directed Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten. He has just finished his first big studio movie picture Role Models. I spoke with him over the phone about fatherhood, the logistics of cursing around child actors, and Asberger’s Syndrome.
SJ: So we’ve met before, and you had a baby with you. How’s fatherhood?
DW: It’s totally awesome. I had no idea. It’s really cool. I have nothing to say that’s not cliché, but it gives you perspective on everything else you’re doing and it structures your life a little bit. It takes the focus off your self, which is actually pretty liberating.
SJ: Has fatherhood inspired the direction of this film?
DW: Absolutely. All three of us [Paul Rudd, & Ken Marino] who wrote this film have very little boys. And so it was a huge influence on our perspective of the material. We all three had just gone thought the process that Danny and Wheeler go through which is the first time in our lives to be concerned for somebody else’s welfare more than our own.
SJ: As a parent, are there times when you feel like you should just smack a child with a copy of Harpers?
DW: (Laughs) Yes.
SJ: One thing that I loved about the film was all the swearing around children. Are there special forms that need to be signed to allow that to happen?
DW: You’re not so far off. There is sort of a negotiation that happens with the teachers on set. They’re the ones assigned by the state to monitor such matters.
SJ: I had no idea that’s how it works.
DW: I didn’t either until I did this. It wasn’t quite so formalized when we were doing Wet Hot American Summer with all the kids.
SJ: I’ve never really liked Seann William Scott. He’s always been the Dude Where’s My Car Stiffer character. But you worked him in a way that was really successful and I was wondering if the casting was a decision you made because this was a bigger studio film.
DW: The idea for us was to embrace what we all like about the Stifler persona. That’s who we all know Seann as. But we also wanted to grow it up a little and bring it into a form that is appealing in today’s kind of comedy, to embrace his persona and write for that and then put it up agains Paul Rudd’s persona which is very different, and then use the difference between them as the comedy.
SJ: Did you do a lot of research for the Live Action Role Playing Sequences, and did you have previous experience with this?
DW: I didn’t have previous experience but we did quite a bit of research. We spoke with a lot of people who do it, we went to a lot of events, we watched documentaries and Youtube to get a sense and a breadth of it in order to fully inform our fictional version of it. And it was so much fun to do.
SJ: Did you worry about catching Aspergers?
DW: I think I might have caught Tourette’s
SJ: Did Paul Rudd take big fake plastic sword lessons? Because his moves were totally awesome.
DW: We actually had a serious hardcore stunt choreographer on set who was helping us with all that stuff. We tried to take the battle sequences as serious as if you were making Braveheart.
SJ: I thought that the movie had a bigger, broader message, which to me was no matter where you look there aren’t a whole lot of role models these days. Parents have trouble relating to their kids, adults can live in these fantasy worlds where maybe they’re even engaging in swor fighting in a public park. Was that an intentional point.?
DW: That’s very much so, hence the title. It was also very much about how these two guys have this missing piece in their lives and it took being forced to have someone else to take care of in order for them to have the growth that they needed.
SJ: Finally, David Wain, who are your role Models?
DW: Albert Schweitzer, Mark Spitz, and Seth Meyers, and Dr. Josef Mengele
Check out David’s (really funny) web series Wainy Days on My Damn Channel.
And you can visit is blog here.