LUCA Star Jim Gaffigan On Getting Into Character For Pixar's Latest Comedy, THAT '70s SHOW & More (Exclusive)
Ahead of Luca's Disney+ debut tomorrow, we were able to sit down with actor/writer/comedian Jim Gaffigan to talk about his illustrious career, working for Pixar, his time on That '70s Show, and more!
Luca arrives exclusively on Disney+ tomorrow, and ahead of its debut, we were able to sit down with actor/writer/comedian Jim Gaffigan (Super Troopers; 17 Again) to talk about his role as Luca's father Lorenzo and recording the latest Pixar film from the comfort of his own home.
We also get into his career, and he tells us more about how he got started in the industry and what it took for him to find his voice. He was also kind enough to share a quick story about his time on That '70s Show and what was originally planned for his character, Roy Keene!
Check out the full video interview below or keep scrolling for the transcript!
ROHAN: As a father yourself, did you draw from your own experience and how you speak to your children when recording Luca? Just to determine the proper tone?
JIM: "That all kind of plays into it. I think I tried to make sure Lorenzo, if he was distracted, which all parents are, he’s not disinterested in his kid. I think that’s kind of a fine line. It’s not as if Luca was being neglected at all. It’s just that Lorenzo was distracted.
He obviously cares very deeply for Luca, so I guess you bring some of that into it, and there is something about that parent relationship that anyone that had a parent knows that parents kind of miss the bar, so that’s funnier than being a perfect parent. "
ROHAN: Have you had an opportunity to watch the film with your kids yet?
JIM: "Not with my kids, I got a screener in preparation for this, but my family is back in New York, and they don’t like you to share the link and stuff. "
ROHAN: Due to the pandemic, you had to record the film from home instead of being in the studio with the directors and maybe Maya Rudolph, who voices your wife. What kind of challenge did that present?
JIM: "You know, it’s weird, a lot of voice acting stuff that I’ve done, it’s usually you’re not in your house, you’re in a studio, but there is almost something where - anyone that runs a studio is not going to like me saying this - but if you do have the equipment, cause Pixar provided it, people are comfortable at home, so you’re going to be more comfortable opposed to driving somewhere or getting to a studio and recording. So, there was probably some comfort that I felt in being at home, even though during the pandemic, all I wanted to do was leave the house.
Yeah, I don’t know, even before the pandemic, it always surprises me and I think it’s so fascinating, it’s a real compliment to how this stuff is edited. You’re very rarely ever recording with someone, like I can’t even think of the last time I did, maybe on Bob’s Burgers, somebody else was there, but not all of them. I think Bob’s Burgers was the only time they would have you recording with people that were in the scene. Maybe they’d be in LA or Boston or something like that, but other than that, I often have done lines just by myself and working with the director. "
ROHAN: Was there much room for you to improvise? Or did you mostly have to stick to the script?
JIM: "There’s always some ideas, but I think that with the Lorenzo character - I could improvise, but I also know that I don’t want to get in the way of what this director or writer are trying to accomplish. If you have a character that is trying to communicate that he’s distracted by these show crabs, you improvise around that, it’s helpful, but if you go off on some tangent, that’s not helpful. So, there’s some improvising, but I also have been kicking around long enough where you want to see if you can add some value but you also don’t want to create work for the person doing the project. "
ROHAN: You're a very successful comedian, actor, writer now - but you started out doing something much different. How long did it take or when did you start to really notice that you were able to hone your voice and turn it into a career?
JIM: "I made a living in commercials before - I was always doing commercials, always doing acting - but I would say that I did commercials and then I did a lot of sitcom roles before I really did standup. There was a time, when my first comedy special came out, there was a blurb in USA Today that said “Sitcom actor Jim Gaffigan does a stand-up special” and I remember thinking that’s so interesting because in their perspective, I’m this sitcom guy whereas now people think of me as a standup who does acting.
We try to think that we have some control over the perception, but in some ways you don’t, you know what I mean? So, I’m grateful for the success I have in stand-up, but in this movie, I’m the stand-up comedian that’s doing voice work. As long as I get to be in a Pixar movie, I’m happy. "
ROHAN: You're obviously well known for your comedic roles, like in Luca or something like Super Troopers, but you've also been able to stretch your dramatic chops with parts in films like Chuck or Chappaquiddick, amongst other things. What is your approach to picking roles and do you enjoy that sort of versatility?
JIM: "To be honest, it really comes down to what’s the most interesting thing to play. The reason I love indies is because you can play a character that usually has a greater arc or a more complex backstory whereas if you play a silly comedy - like there’s an arc for Lorenzo in Luca and that’s voice acting - but in some kind of silly movie, you’re kind of a vehicle for jokes whereas in an india - It’s also like what I enjoy, I enjoy movies where the humor is much more the situation than a line. Does that make sense? And I love kind of playing different characters and it’s just kind of acting.
It’s weird, I think of acting as sort of the closest thing to when you were a little kid, like when we were dressing up as police officers or cowboys or something, that’s all acting is. Like I’m pretending now I’m Smee, I’m Mr. Smee, it’s just absurd and that’s where it’s really fun when you can kind of get into a character and kind of build some motivation because you really end up nerding out about some of the stuff, which is fun. "
ROHAN: One of the first things I remember seeing you in was That '70s Show where you played Roy, who was a really funny character and you had great chemistry with the cast, but you only appear in six or seven episodes before leaving. Do you remember if there were any talks at the time of you joining the show in a more permanent capacity as a recurring character?
JIM: "There was - it’s weird, I kept going back and forth because I was recurring on that show and I was also recurring on this show Ed, so Ed was in New York and ‘70s Show was in LA, but I think it was one of those things where there was talk of them adding me, but I have a hundred stories of “Almost!," you know what I mean?”"
Luca starts streaming on Disney+ tomorrow!