Jason Biggs Interview, Over Her Dead Body

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

MoviesOnline sat down recently with Jason Biggs (“American Pie,” “Saving Silverman,” “Eight Below”) at the Los Angeles press day for his new film, “Over Her Dead Body,” written and directed by Jeff Lowell in his feature directorial debut. Biggs stars opposite Eva Longoria Parker in the uproariously funny romantic comedy about a battle between two women (one of them a ghost…) for the love of one guy! “Over Her Dead Body” also stars Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Lindsay Sloane, Stephen Root, Kali Rocha, W. Morgan Sheppard, and Sam Pancake.

Devastated when his fiancée Kate (Longoria Parker) is killed on their wedding day, Henry (Rudd) reluctantly agrees to consult a psychic named Ashley (Bell) at the urging of his sister Chloe (Sloane). Despite his skepticism over her psychic abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for Ashley, and vice versa. But there is a big snag. Ashley, who runs a catering company, is being haunted by Kate’s ghost, who considers it her heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashley's fledgling romance, if it is the last thing she does on this earthly plane. Biggs plays Ashley’s catering business partner and seemingly gay best friend.

Jason Biggs is an actor who loves physical comedy more than anything, so the role of Dan was perfect for him. “This was definitely one of the tougher roles I’ve had to play,” notes Biggs. “I needed to bring a certain ambiguity to it while keeping it credible to an audience. Is my character gay? Is he not? Am I a wuss for allowing someone else just to move in on a person I have liked for years?” He also did his own stunt work that included having his arm go up in flames while cooking in the kitchen. Jason Biggs is a fabulous guy and we really appreciated his time. Here’s what he had to tell us about his new film:

Q: Do you cook?

JASON BIGGS: No. I can make pasta. You know, I can boil some pasta. I can make a sauce. Not like from tomatoes, but from cans of tomato puree you know, but I can’t really cook so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.

Q: Why did you let them set your arm on fire? What was the deal there?

JASON BIGGS: Why did I?

Q: I mean, you did that whole thing, right?

JASON BIGGS: Yeah, I did.

Q: Weren’t you kind of scared to set your arm on fire?

JASON BIGGS: Not until moments before. It was a lot like the pie scene (from American Pie). It was a lot like f**king the pie ‘cause I was all talk before it. I was like, “Yeah that’s gonna be me. I can do that. I’m Jason I’ll-do-anything-for-comedy Biggs!” and then like moments before I was like, “Am I really gonna f**k this pie?” and “What am I doing?” Same thing happened with this. I was like, “Yeah, I’m that guy.” They’re like, “Are you sure? We can shoot around it. We can get a stunt guy.” I’m like, “Mmm No.” They said, “We can put a stunt arm.” I’m like, “Are you guys crazy?” I can do this. It’s fine. If you guys properly flame proof me, I’ll be fine” and then moments before I’m like, (laughs) “Am I gonna set my arm on fire?” But you know what, it was really cool. I was all gelled and protected and had all kinds of stuff although they didn’t have anything on my face and I didn’t realize that until afterwards and my arm; like most people’s arms; you don’t realize (but) it’s very close to the face. (Laughs) It wasn’t until afterwards that I was like, “Hey guys. What about like my face? Why didn’t you…?” And they’re like, “Well just keep your arm down,” you know? I was like, “Okay.” This is what freaked me out, when they said, “You have a certain time window to work with before… You’re arm is not gonna be fireproof forever. You’ve got a certain amount of time to play with.

You’ll know. You’ll start to feel the heat and you just put it in the water, but still it will get there. It will get there.” So I’m like “Oh my god.” So I did one take and the other thing was how quickly it lit up, I mean literally and they kinda told me, but it wasn’t slow. It was ready to ignite. As soon as the flame hit (his arm) it was like “Woosh,” you know? I was prepared, but not prepared for that to happen. So that happened and I’m like “Oh my god,” and I’m like “Keep it down, keep it down.” I’m trying to act and I am like “Oh yeah, I have to be here and then go to the water and then fall,” so I put it in water relatively quickly and everyone’s like (starts clapping) “Oh yeah, Good job. Good Job” and then Jeff, the director, comes in and others and they’re like, “That was really great. Is there any way you can keep yourself on fire a little bit longer?” and I’m like “Yeah, yeah. No problem.” So I did and that’s the take that’s in the movie and then we were done after two takes, but it was really fun. It was really cool.

Q: Can you really see a guy pretending to be gay for five years to be near the woman he loves?

JASON BIGGS: I personally can’t, if only because I am not that patient. That’s an exercise in patience. You either have to be a really, really big romantic or a really, really big psycho in order to do that I think. I like to think he is the former or maybe a little bit of both. I don’t know what it is. I can’t see that. Perhaps there’s a little bit of suspension of disbelief.

Q: What did you like about your character?

JASON BIGGS: I guess one of the themes of this is the things you’ll do for love. That’s one of the recurring themes in romantic comedy, I guess. It’s quite an extreme that he goes to, but it’s also kind of sweet and charming. He’s really funny, really handsome. (laughter) On the one hand his waiting five years to say something I respect, but I am also like “You know what? That’s kinda too long to keep a lie going.” You know it’s a little too long to, but you know what? Some people fall into these traps. You hear about it all the time with relationships too. It’s like; people don’t break up when they think they should break up. They break up five years later when a million things have gone wrong and they are going to be really, really hurt and that’s just sort of human nature I think. It’s sort of a gratuitous situation and you don’t want to hurt people so you think that staying in that situation is going to not hurt the person and in the end you end up hurting that person more, but we do it over and over and over again. So, I think that was sort of the case with him, you know?

Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

JASON BIGGS: I currently am pretending to be gay with my girlfriend. (laughter) I know it’s going to work out in the end. We are currently at the four and a half year mark. I don’t know that I’ll make it to five but if I do hopefully then…

Q: Does she take bubble baths with you?

JASON BIGGS: Oh yeah, we go shopping all the time. We try on… we go bra shopping. It’s good times for all parties, for everyone involved.

Q: What do you think would be the worst thing about keeping up that ruse your character does? Would it be the shopping or would it be the listening all the time?

JASON BIGGS: Probably the listening. (laughter) Why don’t you tell us how you really feel about women? (more laughter) It might be the having to pretend to know what you are talking about. I guess maybe it wasn’t pretending. I guess at a certain point after a five-year stretch you are actually going to figure out a lot about the opposite sex and you’re going to know how to answer those questions, but I imagine that initially that’d be the most difficult part. I think the shopping, because you know there is always that chance you are gonna see a little boob, you know, there’s always that chance that she might be wearing g-strings that day when she tries on those Diesel jeans. You never know so that keeps you involved in the shopping aspect. The chatting and the giving advice; that’d be a bit tough, I suppose, for a lot of guys unless while you are giving that advice she is wearing a g-string and showing her boob. Then it’s a little easier I would imagine.

Q: What is that wrapped around your head?

JASON BIGGS: I’m sorry. I didn’t have a chance to tie my tie this morning. No. It’s my phone charger. I’ve been carrying it around from room to room trying to charge my phone because I didn’t charge it last night. It’s how I turn myself on. I plug myself in (leans toward outlet with plug, laughs). I just plug myself in and now I am ready to give you answers.

Q: What about working with Lake Bell. Most of your scenes were with her but you’ve never worked with her before, right?

JASON BIGGS: No and I will never do it again. (laughter) No. She’s awesome. She’s really, really awesome. Wasn’t she great in this? I think she has like got that whole Julia Roberts thing, you know? She is beautiful and funny and just really likeable and relatable and I think this is gonna be great for her. It was great to work with her. She is so much fun. She’s s funny. She’s really, really funny, really smart and cool so I had a great time working with her.

Q: You didn’t do many scenes with Eva?

JASON BIGGS: I did two with Eva I guess. Well, the one where she walks behind us at some point, like at a wedding and then THE wedding at the end. That was the one day that all of us worked together and it was great. Lindsay (Sloane) and I became really, really close on this movie and we met in rehearsals. We were like “Oh my god, my new best friend” and then we didn’t see each other for two months until that final scene where we worked with each other and it was so much fun because the whole cast was, you know, together, but everyone was great. Really everyone was great.

Q: Aren’t you working with Eva now on another film?

JASON BIGGS: Mmm hmm.

Q: Right now you’re still shooting?

JASON BIGGS: Just finished.

Q: So tell us about that.

JASON BIGGS: We worked on a film called Lower Learning and in this film we play love interests and she was so funny in it. It’s a real funny movie called Lower Learning about a messed up grade school that’s about to lose its accreditation. Rob Corddry plays the corrupt principal that’s taking money away from the school. I play the vice principal that stands up to him and Eva plays the school board inspector who comes in and helps me and we have a love thing and there’s flashbacks to us in high school and she wears a cheerleader’s outfit. Gentlemen take a minute. (laughter) It was great. We didn’t get to work together much in- in- what is this called? (looks through press notes on table – laughter) –Over Her Dead Body. In the new one we got to work a lot with each other and kiss. We got to kiss so that was good times for Eva. (laughter)

Q: What’s your whole take on the psychic thing? Do you believe in psychics?

JASON BIGGS: I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. That’s about it. I am a bit of a cynic I have to admit. I am open-minded enough to. I am down to be proven otherwise, but I’m a scientific guy. I’m a tangible evidence kinda guy so I generally am cynical when it comes to that sort of thing, but if I see a ghost or the psychic spews out a whole bunch of information that only she could know ‘cause she’s a psychic, then you got me. I’m in, you know, but that hasn’t happened so not at the moment.

Q: Jeff Lowell said that he was writing something for you and Lindsay. Do you know what the basic premise of the sitcom is?

 JASON BIGGS: It’s basically she and I. It’s basically best friends hooking up and what happens after that.

Q: So like When Harry Met Sally?

JASON BIGGS: It’s sort of like When Harry Met Sally, yes exactly. Lindsay and I have this unbelievable chemistry and Jeff gets us so well and he really understands our comedy and he’s a really funny guy so he approached us about doing something together so we are in the nascent stages of that and hopefully something comes to fruition. Did he say where he’s at because I have been bugging him for a script? (laughter – Jason is reminded of current WGA strike by reporters) I’m kidding. He’s not writing. (laughter) Did he tell you where he’s at with his thought process thinking about the script? (laughter) Hopefully when all is said and done with the strike and everything, we can move and something will come out. We’ll see.

Q: Will you be ready to commit to a long-term TV type project?

JASON BIGGS: Yeah. You know I did a pilot last year actually which is still not entirely dead. We were actually planning on redoing it and we were in the process of hiring new writers when – my TV commitments are sort of weird at the moment. The TV roles were immediately affected by the strike and so everyone is sort of in the same position. As far as me doing TV you know, I took that first step last pilot season and was producing this thing and now Lindsay, Jeff and I are talking about developing this thing so I am down to make the commitment if I feel it’s creatively smart and something that is fun to do. The landscape of TV has changed so much these days. It’s a totally different medium and there’s so much fun stuff and original stuff happening.

Q: What was the pilot that you were maybe going to re-do?

JASON BIGGS: It was called “I’m In Hell”, or it IS called “I’m In Hell” and it’s me and David Cross and Erika Christensen. I am basically an ass from the corporate world and I die and go to hell. Basically hell is full. There’s no more room in hell. I am part of a pilot program of hell on earth (laughter) and I am sent to Akron, Ohio (more laughter) and David Cross is my hell emissary, you know, he’s just a guy that’s kind of making life shitty for me. It’s just basically me living out my days in Akron , Ohio, hell on earth.

Q: Eva has a couple of pilots that she’s pitched as a producer. Would you be interested in something she was doing if you could?

JASON BIGGS: Would I be interested? Yeah, yeah, I’d totally be interested.

Q: I wonder what they are. We’ll have to ask her.

JASON BIGGS: Yeah, yeah, we’ll have to have her pitch me a thing or two. Absolutely. I mean I am all about collaborating with people that I like and friends and stuff. The more you can surround yourself with cool people and make it… I mean at the end of the day I’m very lucky to be doing what I do. Mostly because it’s fun and so any opportunity to make it more fun. I hate being on sets where it’s like there’s bad vibes and people aren’t getting along. Listen, I take my job seriously and I work hard at it and it’s a job at the end of the day. I get it, but I want to have fun. I want it to be fun.

Q: How was it working with Jeff as a first time director?

JASON BIGGS: Not fun! (Laughter) Again, I’m hoping to have more fun in the future. No. He’s incredible. He was incredible. Super smart and really funny. We got along so well. I’ve worked with a lot of first time directors and some of them- actually very few of them have felt like a first time director, but most of them I’ve been really lucky come in and it’s like “You don’t feel like a first time director at all” and I think that part of it is (that) he’s an experienced guy. He’s been around for a long time in this business. It’s not like he just wrote this script for the first time out of college and was like “I’m gonna direct it,” but also a part of that is that he was a writer/director. It’s his material. He knew what he wanted. It’s all there on the page. He had our support and our vote of confidence before we even got to film it because we saw what he did with the script so it was a great experience.

Q: -and it gives you a lot of latitude.

JASON BIGGS: A hundred percent yeah, a lot of freedom, a lot of room for improvisation and collaboration.

Q: What was something in particular that you improve-ed that stayed in?

JASON BIGGS: The fire scene is one of those things where- especially for physical comedy, I love physical comedy and I love sort of choreographing my own jokes and stuff.

Q: You did choreograph what happened to you?

JASON BIGGS: Yeah, and I just did it all in the American Pie films and in any sort of scene like that I love coming in with the director and just sort of seeing what the objective of the scene is. As written it was “Sets his arm on fire. Boiling water” and I was like “What’s the order? Where should it be? How long should I fall? If I do fall, where should I fall? Why should I fall? Maybe we should get some water on the ground. If we had water on the floor then I could slip. Which direction should I fall? What should I hit? Should I get back up after I fall? Am I still on fire when I fall?” All of these things. It’s kinda fun, you come in-

Q: You’re a frustrated stunt coordinator.

JASON BIGGS: Totally. It’s so funny because stunt coordinators… and listen, thank god for them and they’re there for my safety first and I need them there for that reason, but a lot of times they’ll come in and if they don’t know me or know the things I’ve done, they’ll be like “Do you need knee pads? Do you need this? Are you okay?” I’m like “You guys, watch this! I don’t need any of that. This is gonna be fine.” They’re like “Do you need someone to fall for you?” and I was like “Do you want to laugh in this thing or do you not want to laugh in this thing?” That being said, I am not going to jump off a moving train and I’m gonna need them, but it’s sort of one of those things where Jeff was like, “You know how to do this. What do you think? Just come in. We’ll be wide. We’ll shoot the camera. Do it for as long as you want and when you want to cut, you know I’ll call ‘cut’ and we’ll be done and that’ll be it.”

Q: Did you have to do the arm on fire a lot?

JASON BIGGS: We did it twice. We only did it twice. The first time they were like “Can you stay on fire a little bit longer,” you know? I was like “fine” and then that’s it, you know?

Q: You could have camped this character up a lot, but you chose not to. Can you talk about that process?

JASON BIGGS: That’s a very good point and that’s another thing that Jeff and I just talked ad nauseum about it. I was constantly going to him and saying “Am I…?“ ‘cause you know it was tricky. I was playing a straight guy who was playing a gay guy so the question is “What is his impression of gay? How over-the-top would he go or not over-the-top,” so it was like I was making these decisions on behalf of the guy that was making those decisions. It was really tough actually so I was really nervous and in the end, as with all comedy, it’s always “less is more,” I think. Especially with a lot of the comedy I do, I have a tendency… It’s so easy to go to those bigger places and I just kept telling Jeff, “If you have to reign me in, reign me in.”

So I was always aware of it and he was always aware of it and in the end it was like, “If you find little moments whether it’s physical affectations or something, fine, but don’t go to that physical place. It’s not gonna read. It’s gonna be over the top. She won’t believe it. How will she believe it for five years?” You know? It also needs to be believable that he’s a straight guy. There needs to be some sort of ambiguity, I think, instead of just playing this (lisping effeminately) thort of jutht over the top “Look at me I’m playing gay! Now I’m a gay guy.” (Speaking normally again) You know, it was like “That’s just gonna be ridiculous.” And frankly I don’t know any gay guys that even do that, you know? It’s always the jokey, hand-up, over-the-top version and it’s never the real thing you know?

“Over Her Dead Body” opens in theaters on February 1st.

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