Matt Bush talks about playing an unconventional valedictorian in High School, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD September 4
Matt Bush is an actor who has always chosen diverse roles to appear in. Following guest-starring stints on shows like Veronica Mars and Scrubs, he landed roles in movies such as Adventureland, Halloween II, Nice Guy Johnny, Margaret and this year's Piranha 3DD. He can next be seen in High School, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD September 4. I recently had the chance to speak with the actor about the indie comedy, where he portrays a high school valedictorian who tries to ruin his school's new mandatory drug test, since he just tried marijuana for the first time ever. Take a look at what he had to say.
I have to imagine this was quite a read when you first picked up this script. Can you talk about your initial reactions to this crazy story?
Matt Bush: Yeah, I thought it was funny. I was sent it, but I was originally going to read for another role. They sent it to me with Sebastian in mind. The first time I was reading it, I had that character in mind, and that angle. Then they asked me to read it again, but think about Henry. The more I read it, the funnier it was.
Matt Bush: There's this thing they always say, 'actors attached.' It can mean a lot of things. You always take it with a grain of salt, so there were a couple of these guys that my agent said it seemed like these guys were going to be on board. I fly to Michigan and straight off, it's official, it's real.
I was such a huge fan of The Shield. When I first saw the trailer for this, it was kind of a shock that Michael (Chiklis) had hair. It's not that it looked bad, but after seeing him bald for so many years, it's kind of an odd sight.
Matt Bush: I know. He's usually in tight black t-shirts, showing the guns off. Now you see him in an 80s power suit with a ridiculous mustache. It's funny. It's a funny gag.
I believe you shot this a few years ago. Can you talk about the path this took from the festival circuit to finally getting a release this summer?
Matt Bush: Yeah, we shot it in Michigan a couple of years ago, and we took it to Sundance the year after. Often, business takes over, and things are put on the shelf for a bit. Now we had a nice little turnout a couple of months ago and now we have the DVD. I'm excited for the Blu-ray and DVD release, because I feel that more people are going to check it out.
It did get a limited release in theaters. Do you think the bizarre nature of a high school being infiltrated with these pot brownies, do you think that's one of the reasons it took so long to get to theaters?
Matt Bush: No, I don't. I think it was a little more business-oriented. Certainly, when you pitch the film, it's a high school comedy, but the protagonist does something illegal and you're rooting for him. It's an interesting pitch, and that's what I thought was so funny about it. I'm not comparing this by any means, but you take a film like Risky Business. There was a seedy element to that, and if you cross the line or at least get close to it, I think that humor can really flourish.
Matt Bush: It's fun for an actor to watch another actor who they admire so much, like Adrien Brody and Michael Chiklis. It's fun to see them have such a good time with these characters. Michael was having a blast, playing this guy. After every take, he would run to the monitor and look at it again, then crack up laughing watching the scene. It's so great watching that. You can't pay for that kind of education either. It's a cool experience.
This kid you're playing is the school valedictorian. Were there certain people you talked to from your high school days to get into this character more?
Matt Bush: Yeah. I certainly was not the valedictorian of my high school class, very much the opposite. My brother, for some reason, got the smart gene, so I drew a little bit from him. Then, in talking to John (Stalberg), the director, he very much wanted Henry to be driven and super-focused, but, at the same time, he's a high school kid. He curses, he gets emotional. He didn't want to make this kid be a stereotype of this nerdy, straight-A student. He's not going to wear a pocket protector and glasses, you know? That aspect was a little more relatable to me.
Back in the day, that was the first thing you thought of with a valedictorian, the glasses and pocket protector. It's cool to see that role starting to evolve.
Matt Bush: Yeah, it's true. This is a kid who is smart by nature, but he pushes himself. That's what you have to do now.
This is John's first feature. Can you talk about his style on the set, and what kind of environment he created for you guys to succeed?
Matt Bush: He let us have fun, which I think is super important, especially when you're making a comedy. I feel like, when the environment on the set, between the actors, is tense, it's harder. He had a very relaxed set, but, at the same time, he had a vision. He knew what he wanted. I can't say enough good things about John. He did a great job, I think.
Matt Bush: Yeah, that's a smaller role, but it was an opportunity to work with Clint. That was amazing. He's just such a nice guys. From my understanding, it's the same group of guys that they have used on all his films, and you can tell because they're all like a family. It was a great experience.
Is there anything you're working on now that you can talk about?
Are you playing a bad guy?
Matt Bush: I don't know if I want to say (Laughs). But it's in Hawaii, so I can't complain.
I saw Piranha 3DD this summer and I loved it. Would you be on board to come back if they did a third one? I don't know what they would call it, if they would just add another D on...
Matt Bush: (Laughs) Yeah, what is that title? I had fun doing it, and I think it's a fun movie, but I don't know. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
As you said before, High School didn't get the widest release in theaters. What would you like to say to anyone who is curious about this, to get them to check it out on Blu-ray and DVD this week?
Matt Bush: Look, I think you should get some buddies together, maybe partake a little bit, if you know what I mean, and check it out. Pop it in and watch it. I think it's going to spread. I feel like it's one of those movies that's going to be passed around.
Great. That's all I have. Thanks so much. It was great talking to you, Matt.
Matt Bush: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.