Jorma Taccone Interview, Land of The LostPosted by: Sheila Roberts
We caught up with Saturday Night Live writer and performer Jorma Taccone to talk about his new movie, Land of the Lost, directed by Brad Silberling based on the classic television series created by Sid & Marty Krofft. Will Ferrell stars as has-been scientist Dr. Rick Marshall, a man with no weapons, few skills and questionable smarts who must survive an alternate universe full of marauding dinosaurs and fantastic creatures from beyond our world after he’s sucked through a space-time vortex to a place of spectacular sights and super-scaled comedy known as the Land of the Lost.
Joining him for the adventure are crack-smart research assistant Holly (Anna Friel) and a redneck huckster (Danny McBride) named Will. Chased by T. rex and stalked by painfully slow reptiles known as Sleestak, Marshall, Will and Holly must rely on their only ally--a primate called Chaka (Taccone)--to navigate out of the hybrid dimension. Escape from this routine expedition gone awry and they're heroes. Get stuck and they'll be permanent refugees in the Land of the Lost.
The filmmakers knew there could be no Land of the Lost film without a certain ape-boy named Chaka creating mischief in the fantastic world. Laughs Silberling: “Chaka freaked me out as a kid. It was a combination of the makeup and the fact that there was a kid under there.” Drawing from those memories, Silberling’s makeup and prosthetics team created what he refers to as “a character who is sketchy but loveable. He is a con man with heart.”
Playing the role of the Pakuni missing link was something the versatile and talented Taccone had been unknowingly preparing to tackle for years. “When I was a kid,” the actor explains, “we used to role-play Land of the Lost. I always ended up playing Chaka because I was the shortest. Plus, I looked like a freakish monkey-boy; that was the other reason. I’ve been preparing for this role my entire life.”
Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas had written Chaka as a devious ape-boy, an opportunist who will do anything to surviveâ€¦including putting Marshall in harm’s way. In addition to Danny McBride, Will Ferrell would need to juggle another comedy antagonist. About working opposite his co-star, Taccone says, “Will and I had never met at SNL, but just knowing he had worked on the show, I figured we would get along. There is nothing in the world like working on Saturday Night Liveâ€¦not one single thing.”
Jorma Taccone made his feature-acting debut in the 2007 summer release Hot Rod appearing opposite Andy Samberg, Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek, Isla Fisher and Bill Hader as Samberg’s geeky and lovable half-brother Kevin. Currently, Taccone is a writer, composer and director for Saturday Night Live. Along with his writing partners Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, Taccone is responsible for creating the popular “SNL Digital Shorts,” which have reinvigorated the series and spurred many watercooler moments over the past two seasons. Some of the most notable shorts include “D*ck in a Box” (with Justin Timberlake), “Lazy Sunday” (a rap about The Chronicles of Narnia) and “The Natalie Portman Rap”—all of which Taccone co-wrote and composed music for with the help of his brother, Asa. Taccone has also directed several digital shorts including “MacGruber” (with Jeremy Piven), “Business Meeting” (with Rainn Wilson and Arcade Fire), “Roy Rules” and “Sloths,” and he was honored with a Writers Guild Award for his work on the 2005/2006 season of the show.
Taccone, Samberg and Schaffer, collectively known as The Lonely Island, have been friends since junior high school in Berkeley, California. In 2000, the trio began writing, directing and producing their own brand of comedy and showcasing it on their website TheLonelyIsland.com. The Lonely Island’s debut album “Incredibad” was released by Universal Republic in February 2009 and is the first comedy album to reach No. 1 on iTunes.
Taccone, who is the son of accomplished theater director Anthony Taccone, is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television where he studied acting. He currently resides in New York City. He’s a fabulous person and we really appreciated his time. Here’s what he had to tell us about his new movie:
JORMA TACCONE: I did know that. Brad said that. He didn’t like Chaka in the original. He was saying that he was president of the I Hate Chaka Fan Club. One of their first big meetings that they had with everyone from the studio, Sid and Marty were there and he was like, “Yeah, I was president of the I Hate Chaka Fan Club.” And he looked, everyone was like oops, pretty embarrassing, talking to the creators of the show.
Q: Like Klingon?
JORMA TACCONE: They may have added some Klingon. I may have said some things in there, and I did have to add a couple things because I called Brad up at one point, I was like, “I don't know how to sayâ€¦” There was a whole thing that got taken out of the movie. “I don't know how to say that I’m a rapist.” There was definitely some words that weren’t in there and I was like, “Can we get in touch with the woman from UCLA who created this language?” He called me back five minutes later and was like, “Yeah, you’re the keeper of the language because she’s dead.” So I tried to be as accurate as possible with what I had but I did have to make up some.
JORMA TACCONE:One of the hardest parts about it was, because they wanted to keep everything under wraps, I had to wear this giant cloak, which basically made into a hairy Darth Moll kind of – well, Darth Moll, who did I look like? Don’t tell anyone I don’t know. But like this huge emperor’s cloak that went down to here, and so beyond being super hot, even on the lot it was super hot, but the trams are going by, and we were on these big soundstages on the Universal lot. I was just super hot and I could never ride on the golf cart, and I’m just so glad that it will be out now, and if we do a Land of the Lost 2, I can ride a golf cart. That will be my big goal. I didn’t answer that question well at all, I’m sorry. What was the question?
Q: I just wondered if you ever wanted to go to Starbucks with the costume on?
JORMA TACCONE:Yeah, absolutely, even with those teeth. They gave me the teeth early to practice with because they did affect my speech quite a bit, I think. They kind of changed the shape of your mouth a lot. In fact, you could see a bunch more of my face, you could recognize me a little bit more, but as soon as the teeth went it, they sort put a drop on your jaw a bunch and the teeth are so in depth and crazy looking. They looked so real that I have taken them on the train in New York and people definitely were a little like, probably just feeling bad for me. It’s not even that weird on the train in New York actually, but our first table read I remember Anna, and some other people, Brad’s wife was at the table read as well, and people looked over at me and I had my teeth in for much of the part and they were like, “Oh, that’s so sweet that they hired a guy who like really looks terrible and has very accurate Chaka teeth.”
Q: What’s better, spooning Will Ferrell or 69-ing with Danny McBride?
JORMA TACCONE: Oh man, that is a great question.
“Land of the Lost” opens in theaters on June 5th