Talking to Clark Duke About ‘A.C.O.D.’, ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’, and the Future of ‘Clark and Michael’
In addition to joining the cast of The Office for its final season last year, Clark Duke has a ton of movie projects hitting theaters. This year, he starred in the superhero sequel Kick-Ass 2 and the indie comedy A.C.O.D., and he has another surprising sequel, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, on the way next spring. Opening in select theaters today, A.C.O.D. stars Adam Scott as a guy who’s participating in a study on adult children of divorce while dealing with his parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) reuniting for his brother’s (Clark Duke) wedding.
I recently talked to Duke about A.C.O.D., being around for the end of The Office, and the possibility of working on a new project with his old comedy partner Michael Cera.
How’d you get involved in A.C.O.D.?
I read the script and loved it and wanted to get involved, so I told all my agents and everybody. I ended up doing the first table read, and I think the only other person involved at that point was Adam [Scott]. I was attached from then on pretty much.
It’s a pretty impressive cast.
Great, incredible cast. Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara alone are just such monumental talent. It makes everything else easy.
Did you do any research into the subject matter before doing the movie?
No. My parents are divorced and my grandparents are all divorced, so I didn’t have to do a lot of outside research or anything. That’s the thing about the movie that people are responding to. It’s pretty relatable in most cases. Half the population is divorced at this point. Most people can relate to problems stemming from their parents and their family.
How was working with writer/director Stu Zicherman and writer Ben Karlin?
They were great. They were really collaborative and fun and kept a good demeanor on set, which is more important than people think it is. Just morale and the vibe. We came in on time, movie’s great. They did a great job.
You did two movies back to back with Adam. How’d filming Hot Tub Time Machine 2 go?
It was great, it was great. I’m gonna watch the finished movie Tuesday or Wednesday, so I’m excited. When we were shooting, it was funny.
When you were making the first one, did you ever think it would get a sequel?
We always joked about it a lot. Kind of a lot of Back to the Future 2 jokes and stuff. But no, I’ve been really shocked that both Kick-Ass and Hot Tub Time Machine got sequels. Those both seem like really unlikely movies to get sequels. I guess it kind of speaks to the power that home video sales have, or used to have. I don’t even know. It feels like it’s already all over because of iTunes and VOD and stuff like that. It’s all shifting so much.
Was it drastically different having Adam as the lead in Hot Tub instead of John Cusack?
No, it wasn’t drastically different at all because the three of us are still the same characters and have such a good rapport with each other and such an easy energy. And we all knew Adam and are friends with Adam before this, so it was a pretty seamless transition.
So it must have been pretty cool to have been there for the end of The Office.
It was, and personally for me, it was a big validation in a weird way. When I was in college, the British Office came out, and it was a huge influence on me. Me and Michael Cera made this show called Clark and Michael, and it was pretty much just a reaction to the British Office. For that to be the thing that gave me some direction in what I wanted to do career-wise in college and a decade later, almost, [to] get to join the show, felt like a big full circle thing for me personally that was really nice. And I was a big fan of the show. It was a big learning experience for me, just doing a network show and getting to watch Greg Daniels work, just the way that he operates. I kind of feel like I learned a lot just watching.
Can you think of anything specifically that you learned from him?
The first episode of the season, Greg wrote and directed it. Watching him direct, the way that he would spot moments and rewrite. He’s like, “Okay, since this beat worked, we’re gonna rewrite this scene. We’re gonna move this scene to the end of the episode.” To see somebody’s brain work that fast and know the show and the characters that well that they could be that fluid on set was really interesting.
You mentioned discovering The Office in college. Were you into comedy a lot before that?
Yeah, comedy’s always been what I wanted to do and my favorite thing and the most important thing to me. Definitely discovering a lot of British comedy had a big effect on me. All the Steve Coogan shows and The Office being the biggest one. That leads to Fawlty Towers and a lot of other stuff. The Alan Partridge shows are just painfully funny.
Yeah. I’m excited to check out that movie when it comes out here.
Oh yeah. Alpha Papa. Well, I loved The Trip. That was one of my favorite movies of last year or the year before, whenever it came out. I thought that was incredible.
Growing up, what were you into comedy-wise?
Chevy Chase was huge for me, which I’ve told him. He knows. Chevy was my favorite. Bill Murray, also. Actually, in high school, High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank were two of my favorite movies, so that was fun to get to work with Cusack and Chevy. It was pretty wild. Seinfeld‘s like probably my biggest comedic influence just because it’s so ubiquitous. I’ve lived with it so long, growing up watching it, and I still average like two episodes of Seinfeld a day, no matter what. It’s just always on TV. Every night. I’m falling asleep to it no matter what. Seinfeld‘s the greatest American achievement of the ’90s, I would say.
Just in entertainment or…?
Just in any field. Seinfeld should still win Emmys today for Best Comedy. Like, reruns of Seinfeld should be beating Two and a Half Men for Best Comedy.
[Laughs] They’d understand. Who would be upset about that.
So you mentioned in an interview wanting to do a new Clark and Michael special for JASH. Have you talked any more about that?
Me and Mike are talking about doing something. I don’t know if it’ll exactly be Clark and Michael. I don’t know if a direct in-continuity sequel to that would ever happen, but I think we’ll probably do something together.
Do you have any other projects you’re working on?
Not at the moment. Hot Tub 2 out in March. And I did a Christmas movie with Joel McHale and Robin Williams, but I don’t know if that comes out this Christmas or next Christmas.
What’s that called?
A Friggin’ Christmas Miracle. That’s the title. I feel like that’ll change, though. I hope it changes.
Titles are tough.
Yeah. They are. Sex Drive, terrible title. Underrated movie, terrible title.
It’s not that bad a title.
Yeah, but I feel like the title turned a lot of people off, you know. Initially, at least.
You’ve done a lot of movies and TV. Do you have one project that flew under the radar a little bit that you wish more people would check out?
Sex Drive, for sure. I think Sex Drive‘s the funniest movie I’ve ever done. Like, just purely funny. I think that movie’s super underrated.
And you think the title just shut people out?
The title, the marketing was bad, it didn’t have any big stars in it. It had a lot of weird things kind of working against it, but it seems to have found an audience on TV. It’s always on Comedy Central and Starz and that kinda stuff. Yeah, that and I’m still really proud of Clark and Michael.
Do you have any desire to write more of your own projects?
Yeah, yeah, I do. I’m writing right now, and that’s kind of long term what I’d like to do more of, for sure.
But acting’s what you’ve been focusing on lately, right?
Yeah, this is my career. I’m a working actor. Thank goodness. But I enjoy all aspects of it. I want to keep acting, but I would also like to be involved in a writing/producing/directing role in addition to that.
Have you started planning out how to start doing that stuff?
A little bit. You just kinda have to take things as they come. I’ve worked steadily acting pretty much since I got out of college.
Where’d you go to school?
Did you do any comedy stuff there?
A little bit, yeah. I was a film production major. Me and Mike Cera used to go to the open mic night over there and do weird performance art stuff, but they just hated us. This was pre-fame. We would just go do stuff to piss people off kind of. Like, weird Andy Kaufman-type of stuff.
Uh, I don’t know. We’d just do weird one-offs every week. We’d just see how long we could hug, and they’d start booing. Weird stuff.
How’d you meet him?
He just lived next door to me at this apartment building when I was in college. Just total happenstance.
Do you have any desire to do more performance art stuff like that or did you get it out of your system?
Not really. I don’t have a great desire to do a lot of live stuff. I don’t really want to do a play. My personality is too controlling and OCD. I need multiple takes. To me, that’s just total freedom. It just doesn’t suit my personality type, at the moment anyway. Maybe that’ll change as I get older. I’ve kind of intrigued by standup, but I don’t have a real desire to do it. The only type of thing like that that I think might be interesting is a late night host gig, like a Tonight Show thing. I think that’d be kind of a fun job, but it’s so diluted now and there’s so many of ’em. I don’t think it really means much anymore. Culturally, it doesn’t have a lot of impact. Not like it used to anyway.
Especially in the last couple years.
Dude, there’s so many late night shows, it’s bananas. Like, there’s not enough movies out to even have guests on all the shows.
That’s the thing too. Those shows didn’t used to be just to promote things. An interesting person would just go have a conversation with Johnny Carson.
He used to just have Orson Welles on as a guest, just to be Orson Welles.