The iconic comedic actor discusses his work on this hilarious new holiday mockumentary, now available on DVD
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday movie-watching season. If you're tired of looking at A Christmas Story, Elf, or Christmas Vacation for the millionth time, director Warren P. Sonoda has created the perfect alternative with Coopers' Christmas, a hilariously off-kilter holiday comedy that is now available on DVD. Written by The Daily Show's Jason Jones and Mike Beaver, this harrowing true-life fairy tale follows Gord Cooper as he captures his family's Christmas day festivities with a VHS camcorder he accepts in lieu of a $2000 debt way back in good ol' 1985. It's a strange, wonderful, and very wrong trip back in time that will please those looking for something a little different this year. Since its 2009 theatrical release in Canada, it has become a true yuletide cult classic.
Iconic funnyman Dave Foley guest stars in the movie as Bill Davidson, the amorous opportunist who bestows the gift of VHS moviemaking on Gord and his brood. We recently caught up with Dave in Toronto, where he is currently working on another Warren P. Sonoda comedy titled Servitude. We chatted about Coopers' Christmas, his want and need to be naked in front of an audience, his love for Jason Jones and Mike Beaver, and his recent appearance on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Here is our conversation:
I talked to Coopers' Christmas star and writer Jason Jones the other day, and he said that he and Mike Beaver were involved in a live sketch troupe called Heir Apparent: The New Kids in the Hall. How did you ever let that happen? That's almost like allowing someone to call their band The New Beatles.
He told me this in such a dry manner, there wasn't even a hint of sarcasm. And in the context of the conversation, it wasn't even meant to be a joke, really.
Dave Foley: They were in a sketch group called The Bobroom. They did perform in the Rivoli Theater, which was our starting place for Kids in the Hall. That part is true.
He made it sound like you had heard of this new group using your name, and you snuck into watch them one evening. And you became impressed with what they were doing. And you soon got hooked up with them after that...
Dave Foley: Yes. Everything but the name...That is a lie! It is true; I used to go see them perform live at the Rivoli Theater, back when we were still doing the Kids in the Hall show.
What was it about Jason Jones and Mike Beaver that got you interested enough to say: "Hey, I want to work with these guys in the future!"
Dave Foley: I had seen them perform, and they were a great sketch group. They were really talented, funny, and different. A few years later, when they were making Ham & Cheese, their first movie, I was already a friend of theirs, and a fan. I was excited to do anything they wanted to do. Jason Jones and Mike Beaver are both great writers. That is the main thing. And they are great performers as well, of course. I was really excited to do anything they wanted me to do.
Are you in Canada right now, shooting Warren P. Sonoda's next movie?
Dave Foley: Yeah, I am. I have been working up here for about a week with Warren. This one is very different, because its not written by Jason and Mike. It will be a comedy. The fact that Warren is directing it makes it similar. But it's a different kind of comedy.
Tell me if this is a lie: Coopers' Christmas opened last year in Canada under the title of Coopers' Camera. I was told the title change came about because of the "War on Christmas". And now that it has kind of settled down, they're allowing the use of the original title Coopers' Christmas for its debut here in the states.
Dave Foley: Hmm. That sounds strange. That is strange cajolery. I never heard that you weren't allowed to say, "Christmas".
What? You never heard about the "War on Christmas"? It became this really big debate, where certain religious groups were becoming incredibly sensitive about being told, "Merry Christmas!" By store greeters and the Salvation Army...
Dave Foley: I wasn't privy to this whole "War on Christmas"
My dad, who is retired and works as a greeter at K-Mart, got reprimanded for telling one of the shoppers there to have a "Merry Christmas". The people working registers in most retail stores haven't been allowed to say Christmas for the past two years. This year, I think they can say it. But only because it's the title of this new DVD...
Dave Foley: Well, good. I have a friend named Corey Christmas. He is going to be very pleased that he can once again say his last name. He was no longer allowed to say his last name in greetings. No.
Tell me a little about Bill Davidson in Coopers' Christmas, or Coopers' Camera for the more sensitive. Was this character your idea? Or is this what Mike and Jason came to you with, saying, "We want you to get naked and simulate nasty sex acts for us."
Dave Foley: It was their idea. They had written the part as is. We certainly played around with it a lot on the days that we were shooting it. But it was their idea to have this guy who makes home porn. They certainly left it up to me to play it however I wanted to play it.
Kate Campbell plays your very giving wife in the film. Considering some of the very intimate moments you guys share on screen, what was your relationship like with Kate before stepping in front of the camera together? Was she a friend? Or did you meet, shake hands, and then bend her over?
Dave Foley: I had never met her before. It was basically, "Hi, I'm Dave Foley. This is my penis. Let's get to work!"
She seems to be having a lot of fun in the movie...
Dave Foley: Oh, she was. She was great. She was a really good sport about it all. I felt bad that she had to spend an entire day staring at me naked. I felt bad for the entire crew. And for the public as well.
Anyone who has followed your career isn't too shocked to see your penis flopping around on the screen. You also showed your business in Postal. Which seems like a more odd turn to me, considering that director Uwe Boll is considered the evil villain of filmmaking. How did that process work, and did showing your dick to Uwe make it a little more comforting to do it here?
Dave Foley: I had no problem with it. I was attracted to Uwe Boll by the fact that everyone hates him so much. That made him more appealing to me. In that movie? The script that was sent to me was a pretty interesting script.
Its funny that you say that. I just talked to another actor that is currently working with Uwe because of his reputation. And the guy is as nice as can be. I've met Uwe a couple of times, and he's a funny, cool dude.
Dave Foley: He is a very nice guy. And his crew loves him. He is only a villain to a certain sector of the population. He is not loved by the video gaming audience.
You're actually voicing the same character in the next Postal video game. Right? You are bringing Uncle Dave back?
Dave Foley: Not that I know of. I haven't been involved with any of the Postal games.
Weird. It's on your biography that I was given. That you'll be voicing Uncle Dave in the Postal III video game coming out in 2011.
Dave Foley: No. That would be a mistake.
Now, lets get personal for a moment. I saw Coopers' Christmas on a theater-sized screen. And for a good four minutes, your ass is literally in my face. You have a very real looking zit right in your crack. Is that make-up? Is that real? Did you not want to hide it with flesh tone, because you thought it gave the scene more gravitas?
Dave Foley: Its just, you know...I was going for the truth! No make-up for me.
You were in your twenties in the 80s. How much of a time machine is Coopers' Christmas for you. The set decoration in this movie goes above the call of duty. Watching it, does it transport you back to that era?
Dave Foley: Oh, yeah. It all felt very familiar. I think this is a brilliant movie. The whole premise of it. The use of those very primitive home video cameras. I remember when those came out. Those giant, heavy VHS video cameras. They really captured it. They had that cable box with all the brown buttons on it. Yup, I had one of those.
Jason tells me that they are bringing a feature length version of their Funny or Die sketch Shotgun Harley to the big screen. Are you going to be involved with that?
Dave Foley: I don't know. I would love to. I haven't talked to the guys about it yet. I have seen the video, and it is hilarious. I would do pretty much anything that Jason and Mike asked me to do. I think they are extremely talented. I would do anything that they asked.
What about this new film that Warren is currently making. Can you tell me more about the character that you are playing here?
Dave Foley: I am playing the manager of a restaurant that is being taken over by a German corporation. They find out that everyone is going to be fired, so the waiters stage a night of rebellion. I am the manager, and I am past out drunk in my office through most of it.
What does that require from you as far as acting? Do they just flop you on a desk, and you get to sleep through most of the scenes?
Dave Foley: No. Well...There are a bunch of scenes. I get to play against my friend Enrico Colantoni who is a really great actor. He and I got to do a bunch of stuff together, and play around...
Warren shot Ham & Cheese in less than two weeks, and Coopers Christmas was shot in maybe five day. Is this another instance of going in, shooting fast, and leaving early?
Dave Foley: This was a very tight schedule. Most of the movie was shot inside one restaurant. We were shooting in a city just outside of Toronto. We shot the film on the Red cams, which are great. So we had two of those. Again, it's a really low budget. And I think they were shooting on a three-week schedule. I am in for about a week of that.
We just saw you on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. How did you get involved with that great show, and are they going to be bringing you back soon?
Dave Foley: I don't know. If they wanted to, that would be fun. I was at this benefit show called "Night of a Hundred and Forty Tweets". Where there were a bunch of comics getting up and doing one joke each in the form of a Tweet. There were hundreds of comics doing this. Those guys from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia were there, and I said, "Hey, I really want to be on your show sometime." They said, "Okay." Next thing I know, they are calling me to come in and do a part. It was a lot of fun. If they can find a way to bring me back, I would totally do it. It's a pretty cool show.
The Coopers' Christmas DVD is available in stores nationwide right now. Buy this awesome holiday comedy, which will surely become a go-to seasonal classic in the years to come, and be able to say, "I saw it first!"