Five Favorite Films with Joel McHale
The host of The Soup and star of Community talks films and his role in Robert Rodriguez's latest Spy Kids adventure.
Joel McHale's been making the abyss of modern culture that little bit more bearable over the past decade as the host of E!'s satirical The Soup, while he recently added a residency as the star of TV's acclaimed series Community to his resume. It follows that his next step toward media ubiquity should be a big screen career (he's already had supporting roles in Spider-Man 2 and The Informant), and this week McHale takes a somewhat unlikely starring role opposite Jessica Alba in Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D -- the latest in Robert Rodriguez's hugely successful series of adventure films (this time presented in the fourth "dimension" of smell, with Odorama-style theater cards borrowed liberally from John Waters' Polyester.)
"You know, being in a kids movie -- I'd never really thought about it in my life until it was presented to me," says McHale. "My first inclination to do it was getting to work with Robert, and that's how it came together." In the film, McHale plays Wilbur Wilson, a sham TV host -- irony noted -- who pretends to hunt for real-life spies, unaware that his wife (Alba) is actually a secret operative herself (and that his dog is a robotic canine who sounds a lot like Ricky Gervais.)
McHale admits he isn't entirely sure why Rodriguez cast him. "I don't know," he laughs. "Because he wanted to grant a wish where, in some weird universe, Jessica Alba would agree to be with someone like me? My character is made the fool for a lot of it, and I think I do a lot of that in my real life."
One thing the director insisted upon was McHale master the art of the arched eyebrow, which, the actor says, took some craft. "I really wasn't very good at that, but my eyebrow actually began to work after a while. And then I kept forgetting which one I was supposed to be using. I would practice in the mirror a couple of times -- and I would look deranged. I kind of looked like I had a neurological disorder."
Asked for his Five Favorite Films, McHale requests we make a "special mention" of Submarine by Richard Ayoade -- the filmmaker who directed one of the Emmy-nominated episodes of Community. "He's the greatest guy," McHale enthuses. "I wasn't just saying it because I know him. I have thought about that movie so much since I saw it. I keep thinking about it and how remarkable it is."
Here then are Joel McHale's all-time favorites.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964; 100% Tomatometer)
Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982; 92% Tomatometer)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, 1975; 95% Tomatometer)
Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006; 93% Tomatometer)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952; 100% Tomatometer)
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D opens this week.