Tom Arnold attempts to help Dax Shepard break into the action film business in this hilarious mockumentary, in a theater this Friday.
Having made its VOD premiere on April 20th, Dax Shepard's Brother's Justice is set to make its big screen debut this Friday, May 13th at 7:30, at the Laemmle's Sunset 5 Theater in Hollywood, California. This half-true, half-mockumentary look at the world of action films and what it takes to break into the genre was written, directed, and stars Dax Shepard as himself. He is joined on screen by fellow comedic actor and longtime friend Tom Arnold, who is conned into participating in this often hilarious look at the world of filmmaking and what it takes for an actor to change his image amongst a sometimes stubborn public.
We recently caught up with Tom Arnold to chat about his involvement in this comedy experiment. Here is our conversation.
As we see in the movie, do you often have people looking to connect with James Cameron through you?
Tom Arnold: Sure. Mostly to Arnold Schwarzenegger, because he was in politics, too. Everyone has a cause or an issue. Some of it has to do with Hollywood. There were times early on where people would want to get to James Cameron. They thought we were buddies, so they thought it would be a good way. Obviously its not, or I would be in every one of his movies. I'm not! People use different ways. The people that know me, know that's not the way to go about it. But, yes, absolutely, that has happened.
The movie presents this idea that action stars are bigger overseas. You, personally, have been in True Lies, you've been in a Steven Seagel movie. Yet, you have never become a full-fledged action star yourself. Why did you pull away from the action genre in the last couple of years?
Tom Arnold: If you look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, and even Jet Li, these are guys who have an unusually set of skills. They have these bodies. They are very talented in those ways. I am none of those things. I am a sidekick. A character actor. We very seldom get to fire our guns, let alone break stuff with our hands.
The arguments in this film between you and Dax feel very real. Especially the whole thing about you playing his brother. I believe you could play his brother...
Tom Arnold: Yes. 100%. That wasn't in the script, or anything. When he came over to my house with his crew, I assumed we were going to talk about my experiences acting in an action movie or two. We're sitting there, he brings up his movie, and of course I think he is going to ask me to play his brother. It just makes sense. When he asked me to play his father? I was pissed off. I know his dad. I am not old enough to play his father. I could be his brother. The Wilson Brothers don't look too much alike. This really offended me. The argument you see in the finished film is real, and this is an argument we've carried throughout. He just reminded me today, there was a moment during filming where he pulled his truck up alongside me. And he screams, "Tell me, would you treat James Cameron the same way you treated me today?" I'm like, "Yes! I fucking would! You fucking Ahhhhhhhh! You need to respect me in front of all these other guys!" Which sounds like two brothers, or a young couple arguing. We have these arguments. We've had them here, we've had them in Afghanistan. That's the way our relationship works. I think, when you trust someone, and there is stress...The stress doesn't have to be about us. It could be about anything...There could be a war going on, we could be shooting something and running behind...If there is stress, there is probably going to be an argument. It will be between us. And the other guys will, you know...They will just watch. The argument will reach its end. We will move on, just like brothers do.
During this first argument, we see this picture of you and Dax's dad hanging out. Is it true you were hanging out with his dad while he wasn't around?
Tom Arnold: His dad and I? Last summer, I filmed a movie in Detroit, and his dad was my driver. His Dad is someone I have known for a while. I am buddies with his dad. I don't think he has to tell Dax every time he emails me. Or I email him. He has visited me before without Dax. It didn't seem to be that big of a fucking deal to me, because Dax is busy. Its not my job to alert Dax every time Dave Shepard visits me.
Watching the movie, you think this is all a gag. But this part of the movie is all real.
Tom Arnold: Yeah! We love each other. We are buddies, and all of that stuff is very true. People talk about reality, and what is really reality? Me getting upset and offended at the suggestion that I play his father? That is very real. Maybe, watching it now, I think, "Wow! I got too upset." I got really upset. But at the time, it didn't seem that way to me. It just seemed normal to me.
Now, this I had never heard before. But as it is revealed in the movie, you were actually up for the role of Champ Kind in Anchorman, a part that eventually went to David Koechner, who has a nice couple of very funny moments in Brother's Justice?
Tom Arnold: I did audition for it. I went in and had a really terrible audition for it. That is true. I thought of that just as we were about to shoot with Bradley Cooper and David Koechner. It was one of the things were I knew the people who were making that movie. They probably just had me in to be nice. It would have been a great role for me, but David Koechner knocked it out of the park. He was just amazing in that film. I've known him for quite a while. Everyone is close to Dax Shepard, and I know all of these guys coincidentally. No one is a stranger to each other in this movie. Dax, I have known for over eight years. I have known some of the other guys for even longer. This is just the group of guys we run with.
There are also these little vignettes, movies within the movie. Was that fun for you guys to all come together for this short little movie we see at the end?
Tom Arnold: That was the most fun day. We'd done our stuff for the rest of the movie, and this gave us a chance to get back together on the weekend, with horse riding on a farm. Everyone wanted to be there, and they all showed up for it. It was also nice, because it gave this movie a real ending. It was just really fun to get all of those guys back together. We got to have a great day of messing around. That's what filmmaking should be. You are having fun, you are pretending you are cowboys, and it couldn't be better. Life could not be better than that.
We see these clips of you on various talk shows throughout Brother's Justice, and sometimes, it doesn't appear that you are in on the joke. Did you know Dax's true intentions with Brother's Justice?
Tom Arnold: I went on Carson Daly's show to save Dax Shepard's movie. Of course, Carson Daly didn't have any idea what I was talking about. The audience didn't know what I was talking about. I hated that silence. But I was explaining something that no one knew about. That I was making this movie, that I was actually trying to help Dax. They didn't know what I was saying. Usually you do a pre-interview, and they know what you are coming on to talk about. Here, I never said I would be talking about this particular thing. Look, I like to do well on talk shows. That is one of my favorite things. For me to sit up there and receive silence, just to help Dax, that was a very noble thing for me to do.
And we just recently saw the Joaquin Phoenix movie, where he does something similar. The audience seemed to hate him for that. You guys get away with what you are doing, though...
Tom Arnold: I don't think anyone in our film is trying to say that being famous is bad. Or that my soul has been stolen. I am not sure what Joaquin Phoenix...I love Joaquin Phoenix, by the way. He is one of the nicest guys you could meet. But our movies are very different. His is darker. We are trying to have fun with what life has dealt us. We all feel blessed by it. This is a best case senario. You have an opportunity to do your dream job. Why not do it with your buddies instead of growing a beard and hiding out behind your sunglasses.
In the movie, you guys are using real, practical locations. You don't mind this crew coming in and shooting inside your house? That doesn't bother you?
Tom Arnold: That made it better. It was easy. This meant that I didn't have to drive anywhere. I was just being lazy. I am happy they did it this way. I know some people would have been creeped out. There is a gate in that little gated community. No one can just drive in. But, no! I was glad they could do it this way.
Being such a fan of the Kid and I, I have asked you in the past if you were ever going to make a sequel to that film. Brother's Justice's very much works as a sequel. In the first one, you are helping this kid with cerebral palsy create an action movie, and now, here you are doing the same thing for Dax...
Tom Arnold: I didn't even think about that until you just mentioned it. That is interesting. I'll have to ponder that. We started this a couple years after the The Kid & I came out. You know, that is very interesting. You are very right.
Do you ever think about doing a TV show along these lines? I'd tune in every week...
Tom Arnold: Absolutely. Right now, I am developing a sports show for Fox that is similar in tone. It just happens to be about sports. Its more personal than some of the other sports shows I have done. Its more behind-the-scenes. There is more struggling. I am going to try a show like that, and I hope it works. The best way for me to do this is if you only see the backstage stuff. I will interact with the sports stars and stuff backstage. Like a pre-interview. That's what you would be seeing. We'd never make it to the stage. That, to me, is funny. Its ten years after I started my last sports show, trying to get another one off the ground. A lot of things have changed. There's no budget. Its about struggling a little bit more. I like that.
In the case of Brother's Justice, you don't know that Dax is pulling a goof. When you come to realize what his intentions are, does it become harder to pretend, and play this part of yourself straight?
Tom Arnold: I call this a Mock-Buster! That is my new term. Because Dax and I are quick to go to our relationship in real life, it just so happens that we forget about the cameras. We have had arguments in front of soldiers in Iraq. One minute we are posing for pictures, and the next minute we are screaming at each at different ends of the photo line, and we are yelling and swearing at each other as if other people aren't even there. That's the way it is with the cameras. Its easy to keep this real.
Is it hard to tell when he is straight up messing with you?
Tom Arnold: I assume he always is. I just don't think he is teasing. That is the problem. I think he is serious about wanting to have me play his father, or some of this other stuff. That is why I am so incredulous. Because he is actually serious. If I think he is joking with me, "Ha ha, that's funny." But since I think he is serious, that's when I get fired up!