Joe Lo Truglio

The actor talks about his role of Kuzzik, director David Wain, his new web series and much more

Besides having one of the coolest names in showbiz, Joe Lo Truglio has proven to be a rising comedic star as well. Besides performing (and writing and animating) for director David Wain's cult-classic series The State, as well as appearing in his first two films, Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten, Truglio is starting to make a name for himself elsewhere with roles such as the semi-creepy Francis in Superbad (the dude that hit Jonah Hill with his car), Mr. Edwards in Pineapple Express and a jail guard in this year's hilarious Fanboys. He went back to work with Wain for his third film, Role Models, which comes to DVD and Blu-ray on March 10, and I got to speak with Lo Truglio over the phone about this new DVD. Here's what he had to say.

You've been working with David Wain for years now, so was this something that he wrote for you, and when did you first hear about the project?

Joe Lo Truglio: It's not something that he wrote for me, but I had heard about the project pretty early on. Paul Rudd had done a pass of it and I had heard about it then, and then Ken Marino and David Wain came on and the three of them worked on it. So I had been familiar with the project for awhile and I was very excited, once again, to work with all three of them because they are all good friends and terrific collaborators. It's such a rare opportunity that one has to work with one's friends, so it was great. It was a very satisfying experience. David and Ken, who I've known since I was 17, it was terrific working with those guys and David is terrific working with as a director too, because so much of the vibe emanates from the director and he's a very grounded guy and a very collaborative director who encourages lots of ideas to come off the set, from everyone really, but especially from his actors. What I found most fun is just trying to get other people to crack up. That's always something that will help a movie and I've been lucky enough to have been able to work with some incredibly talented, collaborative comedy people in all of the stuff that I've been in. If you can get people laughing, cast or crew, you're going to have a good end product.

I talked to Ken Jeong earlier this week and he was talking a little bit about the preparation for the role-playing aspects of the movie. Were you involved in that at all, and what other things did you do to prepare for Kuzzik?

Joe Lo Truglio: You know... I was going to have a joke answer, but not much. Really, not a lot. I watched a documentary called Darkon, which is terrific and about live-action role-playing. That was fun but I actually watched that when we were well into shooting already. I basically thought of community theater and those people who are involved in community theater, who are very passionate, enthusiastic people. The bigger I can be, for this guy, and I think, LARP-ing, in a way, is just community theater in just a gigantic parking lot, it would play. He has invited all his friends to come see him. He's that guy that passes the fliers out to all his friends. 'Come see the show!' I just kind of went from there.

You didn't really have any scenes with Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Superbad, but you have most of your scenes with him in here. He's really developed into quite a star, so how did you like working with him?

Joe Lo Truglio: He was terrific. He's such a talented kid. For a kid his age, he has a good sense of improving and sort of being in the scene. He definitely had quite a challenge to break out of McLovin and I think he did a great job of breaking out of the clichéd teenager. So I thought he was great. It's always terrific to work with people you know, because not only are you comfortable with them, but there is also a kind of shorthand that develops. I guess not so much with Chris, since I just got to know him in the past two movies, but I'm speaking more in terms of Paul (Rudd), Ken (Marino), David (Wain), people I've known for awhile. It's easier with the shorthand that you have, a little reaction of you know you're going to make this pause and you know they're going to fill it with something. That's certainly something that comes with time and that really helped things go easier.

The whole cast is just great with Paul, Seann William Scott, Jane Lynch and Bobb'e Thompson was cracking me up through the whole movie. So what was it like working with all of these people?

Joe Lo Truglio: Jane Lynch, I was such a big fan of for so long. I could watch her all day. She's just so good for what she does. That was the highlight for me, I think, on this movie, because she was someone that I hadn't met yet and always wanted to work with. We didn't really have any scenes, I just saw her on set and got to know her a little bit, so that was terrific.

Yeah. I actually went to high school with Seann William Scott, so I try to catch all his stuff.

Joe Lo Truglio: Really? He's one of the nicest guys I know, man. He did a great job, I thought he did terrific. He has such enthusiasm, that guy, and it's completely contagious. It's great.

Oh yeah. He's certainly come a long way from Minnesota.

Joe Lo Truglio: Right, Minnesota. That's right. That's funny. Was he kind of like the outgoing, party animal in high school?

Not really, actually. It was kind of the opposite. He ran with the popular kind of crowd, but he was more introverted than you'd expect. It was kind of cool to see him in American Pie. It was just like, 'Wow.' It was definitely a change.

Joe Lo Truglio: Oh, cool. 'That's not the Seann William I know.'

Yeah, exactly. So, for your character Kuzzik, we don't really see him outside of the battlefield, so did you actually develop a backstory for him? What he actually does when he's not there? Or would you speculate on that?

Joe Lo Truglio: Yeah, I did. I was talking about this with Matt (Walsh) and Ken (Jeong)... we had something. I want to say he worked at like a video store, but that's not it. I think it's something, whatever it is, it's very subdued. It's not at all an extroverted type of... like I don't think he's a salesman, or anything where he's kind of in your face. He's probably middle management, if not less. I think assistant comes before anything. Whatever title he has, the word assistant is there. He certainly doesn't run the household. I think those are two big backstory things for Kuzzik.

Nice. I've heard you have a new web series that you're developing, which I believe is called Hot Sluts... which I'm a fan of already from the title.

Joe Lo Truglio: Ah. Well, it's actually called Hot Sluts Rated R. That's the full, official title. I'm very excited. I co-wrote it and produced it with A.D. Miles. John Stern, who also produced Horrible People with A.D. Miles and I, as well as Wainy Days, also produced Hot Sluts. It was an idea that Miles had and he and I wrote it and it's basically a women-in-prison film, meets Flashdance, meets 80s softcore porn. It's a sexploitation, nighttime soap that, taking cues from Grindhouse, involves a group of foul-mouthed cocktail waitresses that work at a nightclub called Scenarios and they'll do whatever it takes to get what they want.


Joe Lo Truglio: It's ambitious and the three of us are excited about it and it's going to launch on in April, I believe. There are a lot of great people in it, Alison Brie from Mad Men, we've got Sandy Martin from Napoleon Dynamite, Phil Morris, who's an incredibly talented comedian as well. We were lucky enough to have really really awesome people.

So are these web series really a start-off point to maybe try to get it on Comedy Central or some other network?

Joe Lo Truglio: Yeah. I think that's the intent with most of these web series. The reality of television production now is that all the development money and pilot money now goes to the Internet so they can try to get pilots cheaper, than if they were producing them for television. I understand, it's a business, but what's great about doing it on the web, and one thing that attracted me, Miles and I imagine most writers and directors, is the amount of creative freedom that you do get with the web. That's the only advantage of there not being a lot of money involved, is that you're really able to write and do what you want... because there's not a lot of money involved and not money at risk. That's the big carrot that's dangling, that's why I always grab it. Well, you could bang your head up against a wall trying to sell a script or a TV show, we can create something, which is always better than sitting on your ass and doing nothing.

So I see you have a role in I Love You, Man. Is there anything you can tell us about your character in that?

Joe Lo Truglio: Yes. The character in I Love You, Man is, really I think he's credited as High-Pitched Voice Guy, or Guy With High Voice. He is one of Paul Rudd's character's man-dates and he has an unfortunate vocal quality and he's an avid (Major League Soccer) L.A. Galaxy fan. He's also one of those guys that hangs out at the gym all the time, but you never really see him working out. He's just at the gym. He likes wearing the outfits and he's always doing his strut, but, in reality, he may never do any reps or curls or any type of exercise. He was a blast to play, particularly when we were shooting at the Home Depot Center in Carson City, for the L.A. Galaxy game. That was great. We had kind of a small crew and the rest of the crowd didn't really know what was going on. For the movie, they had us up on the Jumbo-tron, Paul and I, and they kind of kept us up on the Jumbo-tron. My character is an extremely annoying character, he's always yelling too loudly at the game and, of course, it's on the Jumbo-tron, he really loses his patience. They stuck us up there so long that, after awhile, folks started to boo and it was one of the funniest things. It was like, 'Why are they on these two idiots? For so long?' It was a blast. It's a really funny movie and Paul (Rudd) and Jason (Segel) are terrific in it.

Excellent. So, finally, Role Models did really well in the theaters, but for those who didn't catch it in theaters, what would you like to say to those to get them to pick this up on DVD?

Joe Lo Truglio: Well, there is a Golden Ticket that will entitle you to a tour in the chocolate factory in one of the DVD's, so that would be the first thing that I would say to go out and get it. The second thing is there are curse words, so you'll hear things like 'butt' and 'damn' and 'hell' on some of the deleted scenes, so that's something else they'll want to pick that up for. But there's just a lot of great, fun featurettes and ad-libbed scenes in there. Like a lot of the stuff I was talking about before, trying to get people to laugh, is put on the DVD, so I think people will really enjoy it.

Awesome. Well, that's about all I have for you, Joe. Thanks a lot for your time and I'll look forward to that web series of yours.

Joe Lo Truglio: All right. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it, man. Thanks Brian.

You can catch the hilarious Joe Lo Truglio as Kuzzik and the rest of the amazing cast of Role Models when the film hits the DVD and Blu-ray shelves on March 10.