Allen Covert talks about his new film, Adam Sandler and and his new 'porno' film
Allen Covert is a name you should become familiar with, if you aren't already. After several smaller performances alongside his college roommate Adam Sandler, he scored the lead role in Grandma's Boy (which he co-wrote with the hilarious Nick Swardson) and his latest film is Strange Wilderness, which comes to DVD on May 20. I had the opportunity to speak with Covert over the phone and here's what he had to say, about the film and much more.
How's it going, Allen?
Allen Covert: I'm doing well. How's it going over at MovieWeb?
Things are good. I just got back from Vegas.
Allen Covert: Ahh that's always OK. Well, it depends. It's not always OK.
Well, it was for work. I got to interview Carmen Electra and Method Man, so that was fun.
Allen Covert: You got to interview Carmen Electra? That's so cool. It's very weird. I just did two things with Carmen Electra. One that she knows about and one that she doesn't know about.
Allen Covert: I did a scene with her in this new movie we're shooting for Disney called Bedtime Stories. I play a jerk in a Ferrari who humiliates (Adam) Sandler and she's the girl sitting in the passenger seat.
Oh, nice. Nice.
Allen Covert: He's like, 'Nice car.' And I'm like, 'Yeah.' But the other thing I actually did was she did the voice in the video game called Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust. It's a new version they have coming for XBox 360 and I wrote it. All that Grandma's Boy research paid off, finally.
So, Fred Wolf and Peter Gaulke, did they write these characters for both you and Steve (Zahn) in mind?
Allen Covert: Actually, no. They wrote these characters for Fred Wolf and Peter Gaulke in mind, that's why they're named Fred Wolf and Peter Gaulke. They started working on this movie like 10 years ago, I think. They had loved the guy this is based on so they had talked to his son about this footage. They got the footage and they were doing this voice-over, this fake voice-over on the animal footage and they just kept writing and tweaking the script and then when we finally decided to do it, they said they were just going to produce and direct. I just bullied my way in. Begging, lots of begging.
So did they write it as themselves or just the names?
Allen Covert: No, it's just their names, trust me. Fred is nothing like the guy I played. I mean, Fred's crazy, but he's nothing like that.
You've got quite a diverse cast here with Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Ashley Scott and some vets like Robert Patrick, Ernest Borgnine...
Allen Covert: Oh yeah. Joe Don Baker, yeah. Harry Hamlin! You know what's funny is Harry Hamlin's sidekick is actually starring on a show on CBS right now, Oliver Hudson. This was like two years ago, before the show and we were like, 'Hey dude. Come in and do something crazy.' He's like, 'Oh, OK.' My wife was watching the movie and she said, 'Hey, that's Oliver Hudson.'
It's just one of those movies where it's like, 'Hey, that's... hey, that's... hey, that's...
Allen Covert: Yeah, yeah. It was a lot of fun. The casting was funny because they wanted (Steve) Zahn, and they got him roped in and then, like I said, I bullied myself in. I called Sandler and said, 'Come on, Sandler. Tell them they have to hire me.' We had us set and, I told them, because we had just done Grandma's Boy, you've gotta check out Jonah (Hill) and he had just done Accepted and he said, 'Hey, you've gotta check out Justin Long.' This was all before those two guys became the biggest comedy guys in town. Then Kevin Heffernan was a guy we've all wanted to work with for a very long time because Broken Lizard and Happy Madison had known each other for awhile. He jumped on and then we got Ashley Scott and, of course, the great (Peter) Dante.
Ah yes. I love Dante.
Allen Covert: He's ridiculous.
I can imagine.
Allen Covert: Let me tell you. There's some stuff on the DVD, on the extras, I think they put on the whole rambling speech where he's in that seal costume that, for time reasons, we had to cut shorter, but I'm praying it's on the DVD because it's one of the most ridiculous things that Steve Zahn and I had to bite our tongues from laughter. It was such a great cast. Everyone was comedy-friendly. Ashley Scott was so funny. She was supposed to be not in the second half of the movie.
Allen Covert: Yeah. Her character left with Robert Patrick, in the original draft, and never came back. Literally, like the first week of shooting, everyone was like, 'She's funny. We should keep her around.' Then Peter re-wrote the script on the fly and just had her come back. It was a lot of fun. A lot of laughing at 2 in the morning out in the woods.
So how long was this shoot? Where exactly did you guys shoot this, just in Los Angeles?
Allen Covert: Yeah, pretty much everywhere in Los Angeles that we could find that we could make to look like the Amazon Jungle, Mexico, you know, the Andes. It's funny that you can find all that in L.A. though. (Laughs). We did this, it was like a student film, but with a big budget, because we were just like running the whole time. We would shoot like five different scenes in a day, sometimes, which is crazy. Everyone was into it, so it was a lot of fun. We shot like seven weeks, I think, which is about a quarter of a normal movie.
Have you seen the DVD yet? Are there any favorite special features of yours?
Allen Covert: I know that a few months ago, when they were putting the DVD together, I was looking at a lot of stuff. I know there's a great clip where Jonah Hill's character, he's singing a couple songs, one of which is in the movie, but there's a longer one. Actually, there's a song that didn't make it in the movie that we put on the DVD in the bonus features. I know there's a whole big behind-the-scenes of the turkey (Laughs), which, in itself, is just funny to me.
I saw there were like 13 or 14 deleted scenes. Were those just cut for time reasons?
Allen Covert: Yeah, a lot of it was just time. I mean, even though we only shot seven weeks, we shot a LOT. We shot a lot. There's a whole sequence in the camper, there's a much longer sequence of us with nitrous in the camper, which is just ridiculous. Yeah, there's a lot of deleted scenes. Like I said, a lot of it was just cut for time. A lot of it is just Dante's rambling speeches.
The movie didn't get a huge theatrical reception. Are you hoping that this will take off like Grandma's Boy did on DVD?
Allen Covert: Yeah. Luckily, in this day and age, if you can make your budget back at the box office, the studio is very happy, because they know that on pay-per-view, cable and DVD, that's where they'll make their money. It's kind of a weird situation, because you try to keep the budgets down so everyone's happy but at the end of the day, the studio looks at it and says, 'Well, this only cost us this much, so if we spend this much, we'll get our money back.' You hope they get behind it a little more but, not to say they didn't, because they did, they supported us, but with smaller movies, it's a big marketplace and it's harder to catch hold. Luckily, on DVD, people are much willing to go, 'Oh, here. I'll take this home and check it out.' I think they'll find it enjoyable when they do.
Allen Covert: Oh, yes. Me, Swardson and Sandler are writing a new script to star Swardson. Basically, he plays a guy who lives in Iowa and he's very sheltered. He's never seen any porno or anything like that and he's never actually masturbated. His friends tell him he's got to and they find an old 70s porno and they project it on the basement wall and he realizes that the stars are his parents.
Allen Covert: And, instead of being grossed out about it, he's amazed that his parents were movie stars and didn't tell him. He thinks he's destined to become the biggest porn star in the world so he moves to L.A. to become a porn star.
(Laughs) Wow. Is there a title for that yet?
Allen Covert: We don't know what the title for that is yet. We haven't even officially sold that yet, but we're still talking about it. We're writing away. We like to call it the Untitled Nick Swardson Porno Movie.
It sounds like a mix of The 40 Year Old Virgin and...
Allen Covert:Boogie Nights?
Allen Covert: No, it's funny because it's about this guy who doesn't know that it's not normal to be a porn star. But, also, he becomes huge because he's not good at sex, actually, and guys are like, 'Hey, I can watch that with my girlfriend. I won't be humiliated. I'll actually look like a stud.'
(Laughs) That's awesome. I actually... Swardson read it and emailed me about it... but I wrote this Open Letter on the site, a few years back, about Grandma's Boy and The Benchwarmers. I don't know if you caught that or not, but Swardson acutally said that someone pointed it out and he emailed me. I was ripping apart Grandma's Boy and The Benchwarmers in my column and then when I actually did see them, I felt bad because they were actually pretty damn good.
Allen Covert: Oh, that's funny. That's funny. No, he keeps stuff like that to himself because he knows I actually don't care (Laughs). It's like, 'Oh, someone said something bad? Tell me something new' (Laughs). I had a friend once who worked for a magazine and called me, I think because her magazine had a bad review of Spanglish. She's like, 'I'm so sorry. The writers, they write what they think,' and I read the review and I called her back and said, 'I didn't read the word moronic, or stupid, so, to me, that's a good review.'
So is there anything you're eyeing up, acting-wise?
Allen Covert: I'm going to do something in the porno movie. I don't know what it is yet. I just did a quick small part in the Kevin James movie Mall Cop. But yeah, after Strange Wilderness, in the summer, I went with Heather Perry, from Happy Madison and we went and produced this new Anna Faris movie called The House Bunny. So, I took a summer off, from acting.
A little sabbatical.
Allen Covert: Yeah. But we're jumping back in, at least we're hoping to jump back in unless SAG tells me I can't act this summer.
Yeah. That's the wild card right now, it seems.
Allen Covert: Yeah. I don't know any actors who are in favor of it, so we'll have to see what happens.
Yeah. Finally, you've worked on some of the great comedies over the last few years. Where do you think Strange Wilderness stacks up amongst everything else you've done?
Allen Covert: Oh, God. I don't know. I don't really think like that. I know I like it a lot. I'm looking forward to it because, I think this week, I get a copy of the DVD and I'm actually looking foward to watching it, because I haven't seen it in awhile. I'd actually like to be able to sit down and enjoy it and not have to worry about it. I'm not worried about if we've finished, or marketing, or what's it going to do at the box office. Now we know all that. It's like I can sit back and watch all those other people be funny.
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time, Allen.
Allen Covert: Thank you.
Strange Wilderness gets wild on DVD on May 20.