Exclusive Danny Masterson Interview – YES MAN

     December 17, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Confession: I used to enjoy the nightlife of Southern California. In fact, before I got serious on Collider, I used to go out all the time and every Sunday night I’d go to amazing club in Beverly Hills called Guys.

Before it closed down, every Sunday was Jazz night and it was easily the best night to go out in town. The great thing about Guys was anyone could get in. All you needed to do was wear a tie (if you were a guy) and dress very nice. All I can say is…I’m sad it closed down and I miss the club a lot.

Anyway, it was at that club where I first met Danny Masterson. He was one of the promoters and since I went all the time, we sort of got to know each other. So it was very interesting to sit down with him and talk about his role in “Yes Man”. It was the first time we’d seen each other in awhile, and it was the first time we’d spoken as journalist and interviewee. But having that little bit of familiarity always helps an interview, and I think you’ll see that as you read it.

Anyway, the reason for this long winded intro is….as you read the interview or listen by clicking here, you’ll see we talk about the L.A. nightlife and I wanted to give you some backstory….

And for the few that don’t know who Danny Masterson is…while he’s been working in the industry for a very long time, most of you will know him from “That 70’s Show” where he played Hyde.

Finally, in “Yes Man” Danny plays one of Jim Carey’s best friends, and if you’d like to see some movie clips just click here. Again, “Yes Man” gets released this Friday.

Danny: How’ve you been?

Collider: I’m doing excellent. Yeah, so basically even though we have limited time, so this is what I do for my day job.

Danny: All right.

We’ve just actually never met on that sort of path. It’s always been at night. Anyway…

Danny: We both like the nightlife.

You know, for me, not as much as I used to.

Danny: Yeah? Why what happened?

I found that the harder I work, the more…

Danny: Daytime wise?

Yeah, the harder I work on the web site equals the more success the site has.

Danny: That makes sense.

And so when I’ve been partying too much—and you see what I’m saying—but enough about me. So…

Danny: No, let’s talk for 15 minutes all about you!

No, no, no, no thank you. Okay, so let’s talk about the…let’s get the generic question out of the way of, you know, how did you get involved with the project and I just realized maybe I want to shut off that radio.(there was a radio playing in the background)

Danny: You don’t like Jonesy’s jukebox anymore?

No, no it’s not a question of that. I’m a big fan of the station and I believe you’re involved with the station as well.

Danny: I was until I quit.

Yeah, and there we go. So starting with the generic question real fast, so how’d you get involved with the project and was Jim Carrey involved when you said yeah?

Danny: I got involved very simply just by having…they asked to have me come in and read for the role. So I went and met Peyton Reed, who’s the director. And I sort of had a scene that was like a sort of a one page monologue. Sort of a generic scene, I don’t think was ever supposed to be in the movie. I just came in and sort of did it. He ended up laughing. Andy and Jarrad were the writers and said nice to meet you guys. And I left and I got a call 2 months later saying “hey you booked “Yes Man” and I was like…it’s funny because my mom called and she’s like, “what are you doing?” and I was like “oh I’m driving back from San Francisco” or something. She said I have great news. And I said, “oh what is it?” She said you booked “Yes Man”. I was like what was that. She said “the Jim Carrey movie”. I was like what Jim Carrey movie? The one remember you went and read? Oh from months and months ago? Like oh yeah. Oh, really? I was surprised and shocked just because it had been so long and it was such a fast meet. I was literally in and out in 3 minutes and Peyton said that right when I did it he loved it and they were just sort of re-writing the script and figuring out what to do and so when they said you booked it, you just sort of say okay cool. I’ll be in it. Thank you for having me.

Obviously you were on a very successful TV show and that probably plays into with any director that you work with now you have a huge resume where they’ve seen you a lot.

Danny: Yeah. Yeah. I mean I started working in ’82, you know what I mean? And I’ve done 5 or 6—I’ve done 5 series as a regular besides 4 other ones besides “70’s Show”. I’ve done 20-something movies, but when it comes to working with icons you just sort of feel lucky to be able to work with them and so like my sort of notoriety is its own totally separate from working on a Jim Carrey film where I’m literally there just to make him look as good as possible and try to be as real as possible. But that’s what you’re there to do is just to sort of…you know?

I completely get it. Is for you with your career and with how many films you’ve been in and TV and everything, is going in and reading for a part…

Danny: Awful.

I was going to say, I’m like…

Danny: Fucking awful. There’s nothing worse than auditioning. It’s the worst. It’s awful. It’s literally awful.

So nothing’s changed from the beginning of the career to now? It’s still…

Danny: Yeah, I get…most of the independent films are offered to me. Most not all. And then sometimes small roles in studio films I get offered. I get offered TV shows and series. But then there’s ones I want to be in that I have to go and audition and you know, 17 auditions to get to the top as they say. Yeah, but the auditioning process is fucking terrible. It’s beyond nerve-wracking, anxiety ridden. You’re sweating. Trying to remember your lines. You rehearse it and you do one thing wrong and you’re so fucking pissed when you leave. It’s awful. It’s literally terrible.

See, what I would imagine is I’m sure for other actors who are going to be reading this interview, I’m sure they’re going to take some sort of heart in the fact that you have, in fact, made it in a lot of different things and you still deal with that anxiety and still that nerve-wracking, you know.

Danny: Yeah, no I do. I mean, there’s often times where there’s movies that are really good that just the audition is too hard. You know like one of those auditions where it’s just come meet the cast director. You have a crying scene and then a scene where you’re falling in love with a girl and then you’re having an argument with a waiter. And you’re like I don’t want to put in the….when I go to shoot that scene; those 3 different scenes will take a lot of work for me. I will work my ass off to have every moment prepared so they’re all very, very real. But for an audition when it’s like me out of a couple hundred guys who are all good actors and all work a lot you just sort of don’t feel…I mean I get lazy with that sometimes. I can’t even be bothered to, you know, I’ll put myself on tape or if it’s a great director and a great project obviously you put the work in, but there’s so many things that just never come out and they just want you to give this Oscar worthy performance for this Indy that’s never going to see the light of day for an audition. And that’s…I’ve gotten too lazy in my 28 years of having a SAG card where now I’m just like fuck it.

I’m going to ask a Jim Carrey question…did you have any preconceived notion of what he’d be like to work on-set and what it ended up turning out to be?

Danny: I had heard that he was just a totally normal guy. Super cool, a lot of fun, a lot of energy. He is all of those things. I was shocked at how hard he works. We would do 60 takes on any given line because he wants to try little different nuances on every take and little different things until he gets it exactly how he wants it. You just go over and over and over and it takes a lot of dedication because he could…he’s so naturally funny he could just literally just do 2 takes and move on. But he wants the director to have 8,000 options to find the exact best moment and I was shocked. I’d never seen a star—a film star—demand so many takes…not demand in a bad way, in a great way. It’s like let’s keep going and then when it was my turn to do my coverage, you know he’s sitting there doing all my scenes with me. You know, I’m good after 5 or 6. I’m like yeah, I’m fine. I’m sure you’ve got something in there. But he would have been there if I wanted to do 50.


Danny: And that was surprising.

Obviously you learn on every project you work on you always learn something new about yourself or you know as an actor…

Danny: I learn that I don’t enjoy morning shoots.

And there we go.

Danny: That’s what I learned on this film. Very, very early call times. Jim’s a morning guy and I’m a nighttime guy.

I was going to say I heard rumors of you having a nightlife or…

Danny: I just enjoy going to see bands and I enjoy DJ-ing. I enjoy great music, so my schedule for the last 15 years has been sort of go to bed at 4 or 5 in the morning. Even if I’m just sitting home watching Sports Center that’s when I basically get tired.

It’s hard to make that adjustment.

Danny: Yeah.

Now, I’ll go to the question of the always accurate IMDB. You are either in or attached to like a whole bunch of projects.

Danny: Yeah.

Besides “Yes Man”. A few of them are Indies. Could you talk a little bit about what you have coming up, what other film projects and you know, what you’re looking forward to out of that?

Danny: Yeah. I feel like I’m forgetting one but I know there’s 3 Indies that are floating around through all the film festivals. They’re all like….one’s in Santa Barbara this week, and Ft. Lauderdale then in Miami and then overseas. A movie called “Capers” that I produced and shot in New York which is sort of a comedic ode to all the great caper films back in the day and so we basically have 3 different gangs like the Guido’s, the Hip Hop kids and the Russians. So the Russians are shot black & white au noir. The Hip Hop stuff is shot like a video all blown out and then our stuff is shot all like super 16 grainy. That’s like the old-school like Mafia type guys. So there’s that film. There’s a film called “Made For Each Other” that my brother Chris stars in and produced. Bijou Phillips, Lauren German, Patrick Warburton, George Segal, rounding out the cast. Sam Levine is also in that. So that’s a comedy. Very, very funny.

Are you in that project?

Danny: Yeah, I’m in that. I play one of my brother’s best friends. I play Morris the Executioner who’s a divorce lawyer. So I have flip up glasses and I have like the flavor saver and it’s pretty awesome.


Danny: You can actually check out morrisexecutioner.com and you can see my infomercial for my divorce. Then a film that Blair Underwood directed with Ving Rhames called “Bridge to Nowhere”. So that’s drama. Just shot in Pittsburgh. So those films are all sort of in different stages of final editing, mixing, music and/or at festivals.

You’ve had films that have played at Sundance before.

Danny: Yeah.

What’s your opinion on the festival? Do you still enjoy going?

Danny: I love the festival. I love the festival. I have a house in Park City, Utah which is where Sundance is. I live there 2 months of the year. I absolutely love everything about the festival. I love everything….you know there was a complaint about sort of Sundance becoming more of a party atmosphere and less about the films—less about the independent films. To me, if you see most of the films that are played there, most of them, to me, don’t see so independent. Last year they had Robert De Niro and Al Pacino films and Tom Hanks films. And there’s huge premieres there, so I’m not quite sure. It’s not the little festival that it used to be. It’s become this giant machine and so I think along with that comes all of the enjoyment of the parties and the bands playing and this that and the next thing.

But don’t you think having the big star vehicles in Sundance films or big premiers like that, elevate some of the smaller films that might not…

Danny: No.

You don’t think it helps at all.

Danny: No, I think that they get overlooked. I think that if you had 40 films all that cost under a million bucks and you know you could have stars in the film as long as they’re doing it for nothing, but these huge…you know it’s an independent film financed for $30 million starring a huge star, I don’t really see how that’s like…

Well, I do agree with you that I think that with Sundance movies that if it’s playing the festival it should have a budget, like a limit.

Danny: Yeah. Which would be really cool so everybody’s on the same playing field.

It’s like trying to elevate like a salary cap for the festival.

Danny: Yeah, exactly.

Since I have to wrap up, so what do you have coming up in the next little bit of your life that you’re looking forward to?

Danny: Those three films hopefully getting distribution and coming out to see people to enjoy them because they’re all really, really good. And then I’m going to star in Jake Hoffman’s directorial debut called “Irregular Hero”. So he’s made a couple shorts. Went to film school and he’s a great actor.

I know you also DJ and you a lot of other stuff.

Danny: Yeah, I’ll be DJ-ing a lot and played Lollapalooza this year and that was really fun and did a bunch of shows at South By and just did a bunch of sort of like a little mini tour all around the U.S. and so yeah, I’ll be in Buffalo next week. I find all these little fun cities where kids just go ape-shit and so when clubs call if they want to bring me out, I’m always happy to come by.

Cool, I’ve got to wrap so on that note…

Danny: Awesome to see you.

Nice to see you.

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