The comedian talks about starring, writing and directing this new feature

Jeff Garlin has been known for his comic arsenal for years with his work in stand-up comedy and his role in Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has added some new weapons to his arsenal with writing, directing and also starring in the new DVD I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, which hits the DVD shelves on April 15. I had the chance to speak with Garlin over the phone and here's what he had to say.

How are you doing today, Jeff?

Jeff Garlin: I'm young and handsome. How are you doing today?

Well, I'm young and handsome as well.

Jeff Garlin: (Laughs) You know, I've been saying that for 25 years and that's the first time someone has said that back to me.

(Laughs) Awesome. So, what kind of cheese are we talking about here? Is this the stuff out of the can, or Kraft Singles, or what?

Jeff Garlin: I have no idea what that even means. I once saw someone eat Cheez-Whiz, but it has nothing to do with cheese.

(Laughs) O.K. How long ago did you start writing this and how much of this is based off personal experiences?

Jeff Garlin: All the food stuff is based off personal experiences and I wrote it last century. I couldn't even tell you how long it took because I kept re-writing it and re-writing it because I had time and I was not getting the financing.

Besides personal experiences, what other sorts of works influenced you in writing this?

Jeff Garlin: I don't know. I think, like all Truffaut movies, Woody Allen, Paul Mazursky, I'm influenced by a number of ways. Kurosawa. I don't know how to answer that. I know that my movies doesn't stack up to any of their movies, but nonetheless, I'm hugely influenced by all the great filmmakers.

I see you've written and directed a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but this is your first feature writing and directing gig. How did writing and directing for Curb prepare you for that and how was it different?

Jeff Garlin: How did it prepare me for this. I don't know. Everything you do, no matter what it is, taking care of your children (Laughs), you build up experience and confidence. That's what it really did. I can't point to anything particular.

You have some pretty heavy comedic hitters like Sarah Silverman, Dan Castenella, Bonnie Hunt, Roger Bart. Did you write this with any of these people in mind?

Jeff Garlin: Most of the parts, yes, I wrote for the specific people in it and they ended up doing it.

What was this cast like to work with?

Jeff Garlin: What were they like to work with? They were lovely and appreciative and I was more appreciative than they were appreciative.

This was filmed on a fairly small budget. Was there any difficulties with the smaller budget?

Jeff Garlin: Oh, it's all difficult. Everything outside of the actual shooting, when you have actual actors working in a scene. Everything outside of that is difficult. Nothing is easy except the actual shooting.

How so?

Jeff Garlin: All the business end of doing a movie and all the crap you have to deal with, outside of making the movie. Making the movie is the easy part.

What was it like to go back home and film in Second City and Chicago?

Jeff Garlin: That was pretty fantastic. It was wonderful. People in Chicago are very appreciative when you film there. Very appreciative.

Yeah, I'm from Minnesota, but I love Chicago.

Jeff Garlin: Yeah, Chicago is great. I like Minneapolis though too.

Do you still hit up the circuit at all for stand-up?

Jeff Garlin: Yeah, yeah. I'm actually filming in Chicago, May 12th. I'm filming a comedy special.

Like a Comedy Central kind of a thing?

Jeff Garlin: Maybe Comedy Central. Maybe HBO. Shout Factory is doing it with me.

With stand-up, you have to delve a lot into your personal life, but this seems like a different sort of personal material. Was there any sort of apprehension to make this into a film?

Jeff Garlin: There was no apprehension. There's only apprehension and all that sort of stuff for people who think too much. I just wrote a movie and I made it.

Is there anything you can tell us about WALL-E or The Rocker?

Jeff Garlin: I haven't seen either one. I know that WALL-E is, I can tell you ahead of time, from what I know and what I have seen, is pretty brilliant. The Rocker, it remains to be seen. I don't know. I certainly enjoyed working on it and I thought the script was very funny but I haven't seen it. I do know that, inherintly, that WALL-E is going to be brilliant.

So what was your voice role on WALL-E?

Jeff Garlin: I play a character called The Captain.

Have you heard anything about Curb Your Enthusiasm coming back at all?

Jeff Garlin: Larry has been working on it, so we'll see if it does.

You don't know if they're bringing it back for sure yet?

Jeff Garlin: Well, it's never like that. It's all based on whether Larry (David) has another idea for a season and he writes it.

Besides people laughing hysterically, what else do you want people to take away from I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With?

Jeff Garlin: I don't think they're going to laugh hysterically at it. How's that? I think it's a very melancholy movie. It's definitely an independent movie and I don't want people to get the wrong idea. I hope you people will really enjoy it and it's good, but I don't think anyone is going to laugh hysterically. That's my take on it. I don't want anyone to think, 'That's not as funny as the guy said.' It's a three-dimensional movie.

Do you have any plans to write another movie?

Jeff Garlin: I'm already in the middle of writing two movies, yeah. So hopefully I'll be making them.

Well that's about all I have for you, Jeff. Thanks so much for your time.

Jeff Garlin: I thank you, my friend, and good luck to you.

Thank you, sir.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With will hit the DVD shelves on April 15.

Cinemark Movie Club