Dax Shepard, star of the underrated NBC TV series "Parenthood," is also the star, writer and co-director of the new action comedy "Hit & Run." He came to Chicago's Park Hyatt Hotel to strum up some media awareness for his movie that opened Wednesday.
Here's our interview:
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Q. While watching "Hit & Run," I kept thinking I was witnessing a reincarnated Hal Needham movie.
A. You hit the nail on the head. My favorite movie all through my childhood, and it holds a special place in my heart, is "Smokey and the Bandit." I love all of Hal Needham's movies! I would love to remake "Hooper." The "Cannonball Run" movies are great!
I'm obsessed with Hal Needham! He's one of a kind. The two people I'm ripping off the most are Hal Needham and Quentin Tarantino. Those are probably my two biggest influences.
Q. What's special about Hal Needham movies?
A. There's a blue collar honesty to Hal Needham movies, a joy. Here's a guy who didn't go to film school. He was the world's best stuntman and a pioneer and innovator.
Q. How'd you wind up being such a hyphenate (director-star-writer) on this project?
A. I've had as much work as a writer as I've had as an actor over the past few years. And it's become harder and harder and harder to get a movie made in Hollywood. The studios have really downsized. If you want to get a movie made, you have to take it into your own hands and get it done.
The easier thing for me to get a movie done is that I don't need to find a lead actor. I'll do it. I didn't have a super strong desire to be the lead of this movie. I'm just a free asset I can bring to an investor.
Q. Does that go for your co-star Kristen Bell, who's also your significant other?
A. Kristen becomes a very affordable asset. My own cars become a very affordable asset. I just put together this package where I'm basically going to direct and write and act for free. And all these other great people are going to be in it. That becomes a package you can actually get something done with.
Q. You've got a degree in anthropology. Have you ever been able to use that in your show biz career?
A. Yes. For the first time in April when I wrote a script to a project I want to shoot in February. I was able to write some anthropological material. So, you get some anthropological background of Polynesians in my next movie (titled "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money"). So I finally did get to use my degree a little bit.
Q. What's the most rewarding part of being in show business?
A. Nothing compares to a good performance onstage. You are in control of everything. Stage performance is very scary and the high you get from it is proportional.
In "Hit & Run," I have a scene where we crash the car through barn doors and go into a jump over two cars. One of the guys asked me if I was scared. I told him, "If stand-up is a 10, this is just a three!"