Neal Brennan's The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is set to hit DVD on December 15th. Noureen DeWulf stars as Ving Rhames girlfriend, Heather, in this hilarious new comedy about the world of used car salesmen. The actress is also appearing in The Strip, which opens today, and the soon to be released Judd Apatow spoof The 40 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. We recently caught up with Noureen to chat about her upcoming appearance in The Goods DVD, as well as all of her other exciting projects. Here is our conversation:
You are in The Strip, which opens today, The Goods, which comes out on DVD this month, and the soon to be released 40 Year Old Virgin spoof. Was it always your intention to become the new go-to girl for comedy? Or are you surprised that your career has started to go down this particular path?
Noureen DeWulf: You know what? I found out that a movie I did is going to be premiering at Sundance next year. It is a drama, and I am one of the leads. It's called The Taqwacores, and its about Muslim punk rockers. But yes, most of my movies are comedies. It doesn't surprise me too much, because it's always been in my nature to do comedies. I enjoy it, and I don't have to work at it. That's important when stuff just comes easy to you. It means you are doing what you're suppose to be doing.
Both The Strip and The Goods have quite an amazing ensemble of comedic actors. What have you been able to learn from these guys in terms of selling a joke?
Noureen DeWulf: Yes, definitely. I shot The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Then I shot Ghosts of Girlfriends Past right after that. In The Goods, all of my scenes are with Ving Rhames. And in Ghosts, all of my scenes were with Matthew McConaughey. Working with these older comedic guys teaches you to have a lot of confidence in everything you do. Even if it is unique. Even if you're not getting laughs from around you, especially from the crew. You have to keep going at it and trust your inner intuitions. That is very hard to do when people aren't laughing. What I learned from these guys is to keep going. They are all very funny people, and they continue on even if they aren't getting a response. Eventually it will hit, you know?
Before heading onto set, were you aware of how much improvisation goes into making one of these movies? And did you come prepared?
Noureen DeWulf: I have done a lot of improv work, but never on this level. I was working with Ed Helms and Ving Rhames. Ving and I had a bit where we are making love. And we improved the "Head and Shoulders" joke. Some of your improves make it in. Some of them don't. I come from an improv background, but this was my first time doing it on this type of level, with these types of guys. Walking into this movie, I did learn that you have to be willing to take bigger risks to get bigger laughs. You really have to put yourself out there. That's what they do all the time. Its great to see.
What's it like to have a director that is yelling lines at you while you are in the middle of shooting a scene?
Noureen DeWulf: (Laughs) I like that. If something's not working, he's got your back. He'll throw another line at you. He will give you something else to say. I don't mind it. I do a lot of comedies. They do this in the TV world, too. You have to go with it. You learn to take the line and run with it. Sometimes it's your delivery that makes a joke funny. Not the words themselves. You have to negotiate the words, and make them work for you.
You play Ving Rhames girlfriend in The Goods. Can you describe your on screen and off screen relationship with Ving?
Noureen DeWulf: It was exactly the same as what you see in the movie. Just kidding. Everything was very professional. We have a huge age difference between us. Ving is a really cool guy, and he is married. He has children. We had a totally normal, professional relationship. We had a strong love story in the movie. It was sweet, and kind of sexy. Off screen, we were just friends. Like any other co-star you might have. You banter with them. You're nice to them. You exchange pleasantries. We'd laugh together, but that's it. It stops, and its over.
I was coming more at the question from the standpoint that Ving doesn't have the same slingshot improvisational background that a lot of the actors on set, such as yourself, have.
Noureen DeWulf: Oh. Ving and I had a really easy back and forth. He is a cool guy. We both have the natural ability to make conversation with people. We carried that into our scenes. The improv was never an issue. He would say something, and I would throw it back. That's how we worked together. I can't explain it. He is a funny person. His delivery is very funny. We would improv stuff, and sometimes it would work. Sometimes it wouldn't.
What turned out to be the most satisfying part of taking on the role of Heather in The Goods?
Noureen DeWulf: Honestly, I was so excited about my costars in the film. I was happy to be working with Jeremy Piven and Ed Helms. Comedically, I have looked up to these guys for a really long time. I loved being with Ving Rhames. He is someone I've seen on screen since I was very young. All of that is very exciting to me. I love that, especially when it comes to doing a role like Heather. It is fun, and you get to share some very funny moments with some very talented people. I also love the life experience it gave me. And the experience I got as an actor. I loved working with all of these people and getting to be their equal. That certainly was a big deal for me.
Were you able to learn anything about the art of selling cars from this experience?
Noureen DeWulf: To a certain degree, everything in life is hustling. Car dealers are hustlers. Actors are hustlers. Everyone is trying to get somewhere or get something. Everyone wants something from someone else. I think car salesmen get a bad rap about it. I'm not going to leave acting to become a car salesman anytime soon.
What do you feel director Neal Brennan was able to bring to this comedy that no other director would have been able to bring to it?
Noureen DeWulf: First off, Neal has so much credibility. He co-created Chappelle's Show. People that do comedy, like myself, find those types of shows so rare. We watch them and realize that the director has let the actors go so far. They trust them so much, and let them travel into the oblivion. Because they know their actors will find out what is humorous about any given scenario. Neal is young. He knows what is funny. As a person, he is very hip. That is so important in the era we live in. To keep the comedy hip and up to the moment. Especially when you are releasing something a year after you shot it. Neal brings his ideas and his ability to see the absurd as very funny. You see a lot of that absurdity in this film. For me, I think that is one of the best parts about it. He finds a lot of the same things funny that the rest of us do. And I appreciate that about him.
How do you think the film speaks to what is going on in our country at this very moment, especially regarding the economy?
Noureen DeWulf: There's always this idea in our country, especially in the outskirts. We shot in Temecula, and there is this idea of scarcity. There were a lot of Union things going on in the business while we shot this. That was definitely brought into the tone of the movie. And selling cars in Middle America does seem very recession-like. Other than that, I don't know how it relates to what is going on in our country. We started shooting this at the beginning of the recession. I don't think it was that preemptive. The desperation to sell the cars, and not be foreclosed upon. All of these businesses are closing down in Detroit, so the movie is very timely. James Brolin's character is afraid of his lot getting closed down. He starts preying on the innocent people that come into his lot to keep it afloat. Anything to keep moving in this life, I guess.
Let's talk about the movie you have opening today. You play Maliah in The Strip. What is your take on the character, and the way Indians are portrayed in the film?
Noureen DeWulf: I didn't feel that it was a heavy portrayal. There is an arranged marriage in The Strip. My parents introduce my character to her future husband. I didn't find anything wrong with it. Are you implying that it was a negative portrayal?
No. I am actually quite indifferent to it. But I don't know how others might view it. I wanted to get your insight into playing the character.
Noureen DeWulf: I was okay with it. I know lots of women that were born in the United States, whose parents still arranged their marriages, because they are Indian. My character in The Strip walks into it a little blind. That was for the sake of the movie. It was an extension of reality. I think it's a realistic thing that happens to people. The storyline is funny, because she intimidates him. She goes to his apartment, and he doesn't even have a proper bed. He has a foldout bed. I thought some of the little things about it were funny. I didn't find it offensive. I think it's a little trivialized.
What sort of experience did you have working on that film?
Noureen DeWulf: It was fine. Jameel Khan was a first time director. He saw me guest starring on an episode of Numb3rs. He sent my agent an offer to play the part. Which was nice. It was flattering. I accepted based on Dave Foley being in it. We shot it as an ensemble. I like it. Its kind of a slow moving character piece. It's also timely because of the economy. Its cool. Jameel is young. And he has his own methodology of working.
What can you tell us about The 40 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It? How did you get mixed up with this crazy film?
Noureen DeWulf: In the movie, I play opposite the 40-year-old virgin. I play a girl named Kim. She is the virgin's dream girl. He can't get his hands on her. He pulls all of these shenanigans to get with her. It's not unlike any of the Judd Apatow films that have come out recently. It's a funny movie. Craig Moss, the director, offered me a part. I thought it was cool. The movie spoofs other comedies, which I think is interesting. There was such a cluster of comedies that all came out at the same time, and everyone went and saw them. It's funny to have a spoof based on all of those storylines. Honestly, I love Judd Apatow films so much. He has such a deep understanding of what is truly funny. A spoof can only be a spoof when it is based on something great. The film does spoof other comedies, but it is only making fun of really great ones. A spoof is a compliment to the original. I think Judd is great, and this is a perfect time to make fun of him because he's had such an impact on movies in the past four or five years.
You can buy The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard when it hits store shelves on December 15th, 2009.