Randy Gambill [Interview]

I am SO excited to have this man on the site today! If not for the singular reason that I believe that Randy Gambill may be one of the bravest men in Hollywood. He’s a guy who wasn’t afraid to, literally, put it all out there. I am obviously referring to his performance as the infamous Streaker in the brilliant film “Observe and Report”. But, as it usually goes, I was able to learn that there are a plethora of reasons to love Randy that go far beyond his one singular brave role. He turns out to be one of the nicest people we have ever had on the site, and as an abundance of credits in multiple fields of the film world that are all equally as impressive as being willing to run through a ball with your twig and berries exposed and swirling for the world to see.

So ladies and gentlemen, sit back and enjoy some amazing answers from a man who is well versed in not only the world of film and television (get ready for The Last OG!), but also in other subtle nuances of what it means to be a professional in the world of show business. For instance: it is very hard to take a proper Polaroid of your own penis. I’m almost ashamed at how much I relate to to this experience, and I’m not in show business in any way. That being said, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Randy Gambill!

While I primarily know you as an actor, I understand you are also skilled at art direction and props. How did you find yourself in this line of business? Was it something you were always passionate about, or did you just sort of fall into it?

I definitely fell into it. I went to film school at University of North Carolina-School of the Arts. Was in the first class they had for filmmaking back in 1993. I was actually a writing/ directing major. Made my own short films. It was there that I met Jody Hill. He was a few classes below me. We sometimes had a hard time casting our short films because there weren’t a lot of choices in NC and the school was against us using their acting students in our films for fear we would teach them dirty film acting habits that would ruin their stage performances.  So we cast each other. Jody actually cast me in one of his student films. I was older than his peer group so I would get cast as teachers and other “adult” figures.

Cut to a few years later in LA, Jody was getting ready to make The Foot Fist Way– it was extremely low budget and he was leaning on his film school buddies to help him out. He needed a Production Designer – I wasn’t working at the time- probably knew as much about production design as anybody in the group- I actually can namecheck guys like Rick Carter, Rick Heinrichs and Bo Welch- and I was the only one of the group at the time who had any interest or knowledge of interior decorating-so I got the job.

Ended up being one of the greatest experiences of my life and bonded me with Jody and those guys. And it got me some art direction/props work for a few years after. But my interest and intention was always more along the lines of writing/acting. And believe it or not I would still like to direct!

How much convincing did Jody Hill have to do to get you to perform that magnificent nude scene in the highly underrated film Observe and Report?

Not too much! Not sure what that says about me!

The way it actually went down is I was with a group of friends including Jody having Sunday dinner. He had just sold Observe and Report to Warner Brothers and was regaling us with his plans for the big finale of the Flasher being pursued by Seth Rogen. I laughingly said the Flasher sounds like the kind of part I would play. I remember the next detail very distinctly. Jody turned his head up real abruptly and I swear if a sound effect could have accompanied it, it would have been a PING! He smiled and said “Yeah, you should play the part.” I had seen Jody have that reaction only a few times before and it was always when real inspiration had struck, so weirdly I knew at that point I would be doing this.

Meanwhile, the writer’s strike happened and everything got pushed back. I reached a “rock bottom” period after 10 years struggling in LA. I moved back in with my parents in Winston-Salem, NC and got a job as an assistant teacher with my niece, who was a teacher there. Things were so bad I couldn’t even pay my cell phone bill so it was cut off. I remember one low point in the class wondering if this was where I was going to spend the rest of my life, when I checked my email on the classroom computer. The Observe and Report producers had been trying to call me but my phone was cut off! It was a request to come and play the Flasher in Jody’s movie! I felt like I had won the lottery!

Funny thing was for some reason before I came down to the location the Production Designer Chris Spellman, requested that I take a polaroid of my penis for the scenes in the movie where Seth Rogen has it as evidence. Not just a pic, but a Polaroid of my penis and send it to them right away. They need it for prep.

Two problems arose. At that point, 2008 it was next to impossible to find a Polaroid camera.

And secondly it’s really hard to take a really good, effectively framed  picture of your own penis. I’m sure my weight didn’t help but I really couldn’t get a great angle. So I went out in the woods behind my parent’s house with a new Nikon Camera my brother had given me for Christmas and really tried. Took about 15 photos and emailed them to the production. Figured the art department could take my photos and paste them onto a polaroid backing

Secretly I though maybe this was a “penis” audition and they were making sure mine was small enough. I was actually worried my penis wouldn’t past muster and I would lose the part!

Turns out the pictures had to be taken with a Polaroid camera.  The ones I sent wouldn’t suffice. When I came to LA for my wardrobe fitting (Everybody thinks of me as being completely naked but I did wear a trenchcoat) one of the wardrobe ladies hooked me up with a Polaroid camera. I tried to take a picture of my dick with the Polaroid  and it was just impossible to frame up. I was single at the time and didn’t know who I could get to take a Polaroid of my penis. I didn’t feel comfortable having any of my male or female friends do it.  Luckily a really good female friend’s brother was in town- he’s pretty non-plussed by things and we were close but not that close so it didn’t seem so awkward.  He took the Polaroid that was used in the movie and I didn’t have to show my junk to anybody I didn’t want to- before it’s big debut.

To this day I think it’s weird that all this had to take place before I arrived on-set since the movie had not started shooting- I was there for the whole shoot. Why couldn’t I have handled all this stuff when I arrived on location? With a little help?

I guess no one wanted to get near my dick before they had too! As a matter of fact I got no body make-up in that area either. The make-up lady wouldn’t get near it!

What was shooting like on that day? Were you able to keep it loose (the environment, I mean, obviously) and make it a fun experience? Were you nervous at all during that time?

The final sequence was shot last and took two days. By this time I had already simulated masturbation in front of Anna Faris and flashed Seth Rogen and Collette Wolfe in the first part of the scene. So any sense of shyness about my nakedness was gone. Also, it was a non-verbal part and I never stayed still long enough to have real interactions with the other actors. I was literally always in motion. So I didn’t really have time to feel self-conscious.

I’ve acted since then with dialogue and clothes and actually felt more self-conscious then. I feel like the sight of me naked was so shocking – almost like a special effect- that anything else I did was gravy. So being brave enough to expose myself was enough- whether my acting was convincing was an afterthought.

However, there were little acting moments I am proud of. Jody had me flip some of the extras the bird and then point to my junk. Donald De Line, the producer was at video village and after that take he threw up his arms and said “Great Job!”  That made me feel like I was doing a good job of acting and wasn’t just a dick joke.

I have to say it couldn’t have been looser or more fun set and Seth Rogen couldn’t have been nicer or easier to be around. I’ve been around some big name actors since and I gotta say doing that kind of scene could have been tense or unpleasant. Seth Rogen was a real prince and it was the first big thing I had ever been on. So I am eternally grateful.

The really scary part was getting shot! I had to get a fake prosthetic chest done and we only had two of them. It was all in one take and if we didn’t get it right on the first one it was gonna take hours to get me back in make-up and redo it. The pressure was on. I remember I did ask for a little whiskey before we did that take. So we did it and everything worked without a hitch! Everyone was ecstatic and the take you see of me running and getting shot in the chest by Seth Rogen is the one and only take!

As I’ve stated earlier, I think O&R is one of the most underrated films from the last decade or so. But, what are your thoughts on the final product that was the film?

I love it. I know I’m a little biased because I’m in it- but I’m really not in it that much. I think it’s a really smart, funny, dark comedy. I love the tone. I think Jody is a real master of that kind of tone. There’s a broadness to it but at the same time an undercurrent of reality, real tragedy even. Seth’s character- his life with his mother (Celia Weston- who is brilliant) is so sad, a real honest, sympathetic portrayal of the lower middle class and their dreams. I think it’s a real trenchant satire of the hero myth, laceratingly funny. I also think it’s real bravura filmmaking, very Scorsese-like which was intentional on Jody’s part. And Joey Stephen’s score is s great and all the song choices gives it so much excitement.  And Anna Faris and Michael Pena are so venal and funny. I think it’s a great film and still hope it comes back as a cult film in a big way. It deserves to.

Recently you appeared in a cool indie film that I am looking forward to seeing entitled Catfight. According the IMDb you are The Fart Machine. Can you elaborate on this role a bit for us? What would The Fart Machine be doing?

Catfight is a a film by my friend Onur Tukel. It’s his biggest budget film to date and I think it might be his best. It’s a really funny satire about class, gender and violence.  A real women’s picture with some great performances by Anne Heche, Sandra Oh and Alicia Silverstone. It came out early last year and I can’t help but wonder considering how everything has changed since October and the advent of the #MeToo movement if the movie may have had more impact if it was released now. Maybe it will be rediscovered!

I actually play a really small part. There is a running gag in the film where everyone is glued to this Daily News-type show hosted by Craig Bierko. As a button to his monologues he calls out  the FART MACHINE, who dances in a diaper and cape, performing amidst bursts of flatulence.  I play the Fart Machine. I must confess I didn’t do my own farting. It was added in post.

How was your experience on this film. What was it like working under the direction of Onur Tukel, and around actresses like Anne Heche and Sandra Oh?

I love working with Onur! He is a mad man and a genius. I love how prolific he is and how versatile he is as a filmmaker.  He actually cast me in one of his earlier films- Richard’s Wedding.  It is the best part I’ve ever had the chance to play and I am truly grateful to Onur for that. Lotsa dialogue and clothes! I only worked one day on the picture and all my stuff was with the great Craig Bierko.  I never met Anne Heche or Sandra Oh on-set but I did meet them later at some functions for the film and they couldn’t have been lovelier.

For the record, I think Anne Heche and Sandra Oh were brilliant in the film. Great to see two, fantastic actresses who don’t get to work in mainstream films as much as they should get roles they could sink their teeth into. Alicia Silverstone is amazing too. I think she has the funniest scene in the picture.

So what is next for you good Sir? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I am currently working on a TBS show called The Last OG with Tracy Morgan.  I’m working on the writing staff and I play a small part. Look for it to premiere on April 3.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Good question. Smiling is a little tough these days. I recently watched At Home with Amy Sedaris.  I think she may be the funniest woman alive. It’s probably a tie between her and Catherine O’Hara. Man, I couldn’t stop smiling.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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