Tucker Max talks about the adaptation of his best-selling book, his new book and more
Back in 2002, Tucker Max was just a guy who was bored being a lawyer and relaunched his initial website TuckerMax.com, which started as a bet from his friends during law school, and the new site exploded. The new site lead into the best-selling 2006 book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, which Max adapted with Nils Parker to the screen. The DVD will be released on January 26 and I was given the chance to speak with Max over the phone to talk about his film. Here's what he had to say.
I heard the whole thing started with your website that you launched on a bet. I was curious what that bet actually was and was the bet with (co-writer/co-producer) Nils (Parker)?
Tucker Max: Oh no, it was before I knew Nils. This was back when I was in law school. The short version of the story is basically that my friends bet me I wouldn't put up a website where girls could fill out an application to go out on a date with me. This was like in the year 2000. This is before MySpace blew up, back when GeoCities was new, you know. I think it was even before Match.com, or right when Match.com was coming out. The idea of even meeting people off the Internet was laughable at the time. I just sat down and wrote it out, I thought it was really funny, and I just put it out there as a joke. It didn't occur to me that anything would come of it, but it just took off and built its own momentum.
Can you talk about when you originally had the notion that this would be a book?
Tucker Max: The website had a genesis in a different concept. I put it up, it was up during law school, then I took it down when we all went off to work in our various shops. I graduated from law school in 2001. I hated being a lawyer, I hated the business, I hated all that shit. It all sucked and I didn't want to do it. When we all moved to different cities, instead of going out together and talking about it together, I would send emails to my friends about the stuff that I would do and they thought it was hilarious. The very first email in my book, where the story ends, I'm sitting in the parking lot, blowing over the limit, I drove from there to my office and wrote that story as an email to my friends, that exact format. I wrote it in that format because I was literally too drunk to be able to form coherent sentences or paragraphs. I just blurted out whatever emotion I could get out of my head. "I had a drink. I looked at tits. I fell down," that kind of shit. My friends were like, 'Look, you've been writing this sort of stuff for years. You're clearly much better at this than you are at being a lawyer, so why don't you do this?' So I relaunched the website, but this time with all the emails I sent to my friends, and it kind of took off from there.
You wrote the screenplay with Nils (Parker) and I was curious how that process went for you guys, taking these elements from the book and making it into a movie?
Tucker Max: It kind of developed organically, out of who I am as a person. I put up the website and Hollywood came calling almost immediately. This is so funny. Let's do a TV show, let's do this, let's do that. I kind of came into Hollywood, not as someone who self-identified as a writer. I mean, I'm a number 1 best-selling author and I still don't really self-identify as a writer, in a lot of ways. I came in from a law and business background so I looked at this process I was going through. I went through the same process that everyone else went through. Well, it was actually probably easier than most people, since I had an established brand and I came from outside of the system, but the whole system was just f*%&ed up. It was corrupt and it just treated art the wrong way and screwed the people who actually made the art in favor of a bunch of executives and agents who didn't actually do anything. Why are they making money? They don't do anything (Laughs). It took me a couple of years. We were supposed to do a TV show with 20th Century Fox and I ended up backing out because I wouldn't do it the way they wanted to do it. I had a deal with Comedy Central and I ended up backing out again because I couldn't get the creative control I wanted and they wanted to do some stupid shit with it. Nils and I realized the only way we were going to do anything the way we wanted it to be, was to do it ourselves. You can't do anything yourself on TV... unless you have a LOT of money, but you can do an independent movie. We wrote the script and, you know, it's actually quite impossible to get an independent movie financed. We actually had no problem at all. We had multi-million dollar offers for the script from the studios. Of course I'm not going to do that because you're just in the same boat as you are with TV. Since all these people wanted to do it, all the independent financiers wanted to do it. You know Hollywood, it's just like high school. Whoever is pretty and popular, everyone wants to be with. We got it financed and Darko Entertainment gave us the deal we wanted. They let us, essentially, do whatever we wanted creatively, within the budget they had. That's how we wanted to do the deal.
Speaking of Darko Entertainment, what was it like to work with Richard Kelly and Sean McKittrick on this film, having them on board as producers?
Tucker Max: Richard was working on The Box at the time, so the only time we saw him was in editing and he'd come in and give his notes, stuff like that. Sean is a very experienced producer and it's not like Nils and I know how to f*&%ing make a movie. We knew how the script was written and what it should look like and what it should feel like. But how you take that script and put it into celluloid, we had to make a movie. Sean is a real producer and we had a real director and all the other people who know what they're doing on a movie set, did all their jobs great. It translated our vision onto film.
I really loved Matt (Czuchry), Jesse (Bradford) and Geoff (Stults) as the three main guys in the film.
Tucker Max: Yeah. I think they did fantastic, an absolutely fantastic job, all three of them. I think Keri Lynn (Pratt) and Marika (Dominczyk) did great. I think all five of them are fantastic actors.
What was it that you guys saw in Matt that made him right for Tucker?
Tucker Max: Man, it was the hardest thing casting for that role. No actor in Hollywood, that we read - we had an A-list casting director in Joseph Middleton. He brought in big people, a ton of people, and no one understood it. No one got it right, even after I would painfully, over and over again, explain the character again. No one could understand that the character was not a sociopathic c*&ksucker, but he's not a pushover. In modern Hollywood, a guy is either the evil, horrible player, who winks at the audience to let everyone know he's just kidding, or a he's a goofy doofus with an omniscient wife. That's not reality. It was really hard to find an actor who understood that and could tow that line. In a lot of ways, Matt didn't understand that as a human, but he is such a good actor that he took direction so well, he was able to get there as an actor, even though, in real life, the dude is the complete opposite of me in every single way. He's the nicest, most empathetic guy on Earth. He's the guy who you'd want to marry your sister and he's playing a guy who is a complete narcissist. There were a lot of scenes where he was like, 'I don't understand what this guy is doing. Where is he coming from?' It would take me a long time to explain to Matt, because it was just foreign to him, but I think it's a testament to what a great actor he is, because he pulled off the role.
I read that you had this ongoing bet to see who would be arrested first during filming, and it was Nils.
Tucker Max: Yeah, that was in Shreveport, yeah.
Were you guys partying a lot once the day on the set was done? Did you all hang out a lot together?
Tucker Max: Probably not as much as people think. A lot of people read my book and have this image of me and then they meet me and it's like, 'I don't understand. Why aren't you drunk, swinging from a chandelier, throwing poop at people?' I'm like, 'It's Tuesday at 11 o'clock in the morning.' Nils and I, me and my friends, when we go out drinking and rip it up, we f*&^ing go out and rip it up. But all the times in between those times, we're basically normal dudes. We're on the set to make a movie and we're not there to party and to get pussy and whatever. Those things are great and if they happen at the appropriate times, that's great, but it was pretty much all business. Nils got arrested on like a Saturday night, he got too drunk at the casino or something like that. He got arrested at the appropriate time to be arrested, not like Wednesday at noon when we're doing a camera check and he's throwing rocks or something.
I'm curious about what is the most bizarre fan interaction you've had, either on your website or in person?
Tucker Max: (Laughs) There's stuff that doesn't even pop up on my radar anymore that happens, and people who don't know me are like, 'Oh my God. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.' Before I was famous, I already was the person that attracted and dealt with a lot of weirdos. Add fame into that... every famous person has that, no matter how famous you are, A-list or D-list or somewhere in between. You attract a lot of f&*%ing weirdos and I am absolutely no different. I truly wouldn't know where to begin... I don't know, dude, there's so many. OK, we were just talking about this with my buddy. We did a premiere in Philadelphia and this one girl pretended to be a reporter for some newspaper, not a big newspaper, just some small newspaper, and got on the tour bus to do an interview. She showed up in the most ridiculous... this dress was painted on her and it was probably an inch below her f&%^ing vagina, barely covered her tits. It was something that a whore would wear to the Oscars. It was ridiculous. It was hot, don't get me wrong, but it's not the kind of thing you wear to interview someone. There are like eight other reporters on the bus and she was crossing and uncrossing her legs like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and I look over an the b*&ch doesn't have any f*&^ing underwear on (Laughs). She had the most ridiculous f&ck-me eyes. I mean, this girl could not have thrown her p&ssy faster at me if she were Roger Clemens. It was crazy. They would all do their questions in a circle and her questions were like, 'What are your favorite sexual positions?' 'How many girls have you slept with?' I'm like, this is a movie interview, right? So afterwords, she throws me some softball and, she's not smoking hot, but she's definitely f*ckable. I forget what she said, but it was something obvious and I said, half-jokingly, 'Well, I've got an hour left until we leave.' She jumped right on it and said 'My apartment is six blocks away.' I said, 'Hey, I'm down if you are,' and she didn't even respond. She just grabbed my hand and lead me to her apartment. She doesn't want me to just f%ck her, she wants me to f&ck the s*&t out of her. I lay two world-class, Ike Turner hand-slaps on her ass and I guess, just the type of skin she has, she bled and had two bright-red hand-marks. I was laughing and she said asked me to take a picture. I take a picture of her ass and she starts laughing hysterically, thinks it's the coolest thing she's ever seen, has me sign her ass, with a f&%king Sharpie, and then take a picture of it and email it to her so she can put it on her Facebook. Hand to f&^%ing God. You can go on the movie blog, dude, the pictures are up. It's the Philadelphia stop and just scroll down there. If they're not on there, email me and I'll send them to you, but I'm 100% sure they're up.
(Interviewer's Note: He's right, the picture is up on the blog and it's as crazy as you'd imagine it would be. Scroll down a bit for the link to the NSFW image. Hilarity.)
I read that you have another book coming out later this year. Is there anything you can tell us about that and are you working on a movie deal for that too?
Tucker Max: Yeah, it's called Assholes Finish First and it's the same general kind of stuff that's in Beer In Hell. I mean, I've sold 1.2 million copies of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel for number two. I'm going to ride this train a little bit longer before I try something new.
Are there any other film or TV projects you're working on as well?
Tucker Max: Well, Nils and I would love to do sequels. Originally, we planned out four movies, four total. This first one didn't do that great theatrically because we didn't get a great release or great marketing. All sorts of things can happen in movies sometimes. I think it's going to do really really well on DVD and if it does, we'll definitely make the sequels. Otherwise, Nils, I know, is working on a couple of scripts for people. Actual people actually paid him to rewrite scripts because he's a ridiculously good writer. I'm just working on my book right now. He and I actually do have one other script we finished and it's f&^%ing amazing but we're afraid to shop it because I don't think anyone will make it. It's so ridiculous and so over the top... I don't know. I'm just working on the book right now.
Finally, for those who didn't see of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, talk a bit about why they should pick it up on DVD?
Tucker Max: Because it's funny, it's funny as hell. I mean, the whole point of a comedy is to make people laugh and this will make people laugh a lot.
Excellent. Well that's all I have for you, Tucker. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with all your future projects.
Tucker Max: Cool, man. Thank you.
You can catch the bizarre escapades of Tucker Max in of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, which hits the DVD shelves on January 26.