casThe films of Broken Lizard – Super Troopers and Club Dread – are pretty popular with Nick and the Atlanta CHUD contingent, so it would have been fitting for him to sit down with Broken Lizard head guy and Dukes of Hazzard director Jay Chandrasekhar. Unfortunately, the junket was in New York City and that’s my stomping ground.

Chandrasekhar seemed tired, and I don’t know if that made him more honest, but the guy seemed to give a minimum of bullshit answers. Also, like many comic types, he wasn’t as funny in an interview as you might expect, and a lot of his jokes were desert dry. So be prepared to read the following with occasional sarcasm.

Q: So you did a little M Night cameo.

Chandrasekhar: M Night? He does Jay Chandrasekhar cameos!

Q: Why didn’t you get the whole gang to reprise their Super Troopers roles for that scene?

Chandrasekhar: We didn’t know really how that was even going to play. We decided to limit it. I wasn’t even in it to glorify ourselves, we had these two cop parts and I figured why not give it a try. The rest of the guys are in the movie, just playing other parts.

Q: How much did you want to subvert the whole premise of the Dukes of Hazzard? Also, Johnny Knoxville said in Genre magazine that he tried to gay up the movie whenever possible.

Chandrasekhar: I personally was a huge fan of Smokey & the Bandit and Burt Reynolds, and I wanted the film to feel like one of those movies. That or something that also had a little bit of the vibe of the Blues Brothers. I wasn’t trying to subvert the show, I was a huge fan of the show.

Knoxville will say anything. And do anything. So take anything he says with a grain of salt.

casQ: You do have the whole “keep an open mind” scene when the gay guys flirt with them on the campus.

Chandrasekhar: You know, I’m a very liberal-minded person and I like to tweak Republicans whenever possible.

Q: Knoxville is known for his practical jokes. Did he pull any on you?

Chandrasekhar: If you call cheap shotting you in the balls a practical joke. He kept doing it to me, and admittedly I was doing it to him. It was something I hadn’t done since I was ten, so I was a little out of practice. He’ll do it at the most inopportune moments. Like we finished the movie and I’m giving the speech to the crew: “I just want to thank everybody-“ and BAM!

Q: Does Knoxville take direction well?

Chandrasekhar: Absolutely. But he’s a very – like a lot of actors, he’s sort of self-loathing. He looks at the monitor and frowns: “Grr, that’ll do!”

Q: Does Burt Reynolds take direction?

Chandrasekhar: He does. He likes direction. But he’s very anti-authority. And I’m the authority.

Q: How does that manifest itself?

Chandrasekhar: The big thing is that we got into a little bit of an argument over respect. Meanwhile I’m the guy who respects him more than anyone on the set. I’m the one who said I wouldn’t do the movie without him.

But you know, he has this authority thing. He tossed a DVD on my chest, called “Why My Back Hurts, by Burt Reynolds,” and it’s two and a half minutes of the most amazing stunts. You see that it’s him falling off of buildings, grabbing onto a tree limb and the tree limb breaks, crashing a car and rolling down a hill, all set to this hilarious music.

The guy’s a great guy – nobody has showbiz stories like Burt Reynolds. And he was the biggest star in the world for many years.

Q: What was the most difficult part of shooting this movie?xcsa

Chandrasekhar: I would say it was challenging trying to integrate the actors into the stunts. We were trying to make the stunts as real as possible and put the actors in as dangerous a position as possible while still keeping them safe. It’s all about energy, really. You’re trying to recreate what’s happening in the stunt world.

Q: Did anyone get hurt?

Chandrasekhar: A stunt man broke his leg, but he was walking on a farm and he was walking backwards looking at a place the General Lee was going to come and he tripped and fell and broke his leg. I’m sure he wasn’t that proud of it. The stunt guys gave him a lot of shit.

Q: As a director do you get a certain sense of satisfaction from watching cars smash up?

Chandrasekhar: I used to build model cars and fill them with fire crackers and blow them up. I have that gene in me. I enjoy the hell out of it.

The next movie we’re going to make is going to be Broken Lizard movie, we’re just trying something new.

Q: Is the career plan to do a bigger film and then take that money and go back and do a Broken Lizard film?

Chandrasekhar: I don’t know. I don’t give a shit how big the movie is. We write a certain movie and if they give us the money – the next movie will probably be 15 million bucks, the next Broken Lizard movie.

This was the first big budget movie I worked on and in some ways it’s easier because you have the top people in the business executing. We’d crash a General Lee and I’d say, “Eh, it didn’t quite land right.” And you look over there and we have 8 more sitting around, so we shoot another one up.

Q: What’s the budget on this one?

Chandrasekhar: 40 to 50.

Q: So Greek Road is definitely happening?

Chandrasekhar: We are looking for a place to shoot it. It looks very likely. If not that, we’re going to make a movie called Beer Fest. It’s about underground beer games in Munich.

Q: You mentioned being liberal-minded. This film has the Confederate flag on the General Lee. How did you approach that? There was a scene that where the flag is addressed in the film – did you bring that in or was it always planned that way?

Chandrasekhar: That was the toughest thing for me to deal with. For anybody, really. Hollywood’s not exactly a place where the Confederate flag flies very high. Then again, the car’s called the General Lee and I wasn’t going to be the guy who took it off. I was a fan of the show, and oddly enough when I was a little kid I didn’t know what the Confederate flag was, and none of us did. You look at the original show and those guys are not race hatred folks. Are there a lot of African Americans in the show? No. No.

It was a real question to do the movie at all or not and it all comes down to that flag. Are you glorifying that flag by making the movie? Maybe. Maybe. But what it came down to, obviously, is that the people who are for race hatred and who use that flag for a symbol aren’t going to like me anyway. The ones who claim it’s a heritage thing – I was down there. I saw a couple of Civil War museums, and they had the flag in it. It’s a battle flag.

The bottom line was there was a debate as to whether this flag should fly on state houses – I don’t think it should – but the debate’s not going to be settled in the Dukes of Hazzard movie. If you expect it to be.. it’s not going to happen. But we acknowledged the debate.

Q: How important was it to have the gang scene, where they get confronted for the flag?

casChandrasekhar: I don’t know. It was originally written as a bunch of African American students, and it was a little soft I thought. I didn’t feel like there was any threat with the way it had been written. I just thought it would have been funny to imagine the original Dukes driving around an African American neighborhood with that flag. Then of course we thought, why don’t we put them in blackface? Which is why we blew that coal up at that. And to really go for it in terms of – the debate of that flag.

Q: Why did you decide to make this movie? Broken Lizard has their own style  and you knew you were going to have to shoehorn that into a framework that already existed.

Chandrasekhar: For me it was my love of Smokey & the Bandit and The Blues Brothers. I love John Landis movies and it felt like a right fit for me in that way. Particularly getting Broken Lizard to rewrite it – I’m a fan of that kind of movie.

Q: Why didn’t you film in Georgia, why Louisiana?

Chandrasekhar: Well, Louisiana is giving people money to film there. They give you tax breaks. I wanted to film in the South. I tried to hire as many Southern actors as possible. At least for us it felt – the whole thing about making movies is that you want it to feel as authentic as possible, and if you can shoot it in an area where it could have taken place…

Q: I was surprised that Jessica has such a small role in the movie. Were there more plans for her?

Chandrasekhar: No. I thought she was smart to take such a small role, in that she didn’t have to carry the film. Many pop stars end up having to be the romantic lead in some movie and it’s very glaring as to they’re new at it. To me she was like, I want to take a small part, I want to be part of a cool crew of people, I want to be an actor.

Q: What were you looking for Jessica to bring to the role, knowing she had never acted before?

Chandrasekhar: I just wanted to make sure she could hang out in the same scenes as Burt Reynolds and Seann William Scott and established actors. It was a matter of just making sure, so we did a screen test on her. She showed up in those Daisy Dukes and immediately I went, well she looks the part, but who gives a shit if she looks the part? She’s got to be able to handle it. She did the first few takes and they were small, they were quiet. You could tell she was nervous so I went up and said “You’re going to have to smile in this movie and you’re going to have to smile if you’re going to to get the part.” I said, “Try smiling in these four places.” And she did, and I was like OK, that was good. And the fifth take was better and the sixth take was better and as she got more comfortable and figured out what it was that would make it good, she got great. At the end of that screen test, I was like yeah I think she could do it.

Q: She seemed to enjoy playing up the sex appeal of the part. Was she game for all of it?

Chandrasekhar: Totally game. She’s a good girl gone bad.  She gets to do it in the movies, which is fun. She’s been a little more courageous and outrageous than in reality.

Q: We hear there’s going to be an unrated cut. What will be on it?

Chandrasekhar: Jessica full nude.

Q: How much attention went into stuff like the size and the cut of the Daisy Dukes?

Chandrasekhar: I spent a great deal of time on those shorts. And I did say shorter many times, and eventually it was a little piece of string holding them together. She said, “You put these damn things on.” So I said OK, I would wear them one day.

The entire movie shoot goes by and I haven’t done it, and it’s her last day and she says, “Today’s the day, you’re wearing the shorts.” They had a pair they made for me, and they brought them casout, I put them on. My legs were all dry so assistants were oiling up my legs.

Q: Were they filming this?

Chandrasekhar: Yeah, sure! An MTV crew happens to be there that day, and they’re shooting everything and I think, well, that’ll be funny. When I see the show there’s no mention of the joke of the joke, there’s no mention of why I’m wearing the  shorts. There’s just a shot of me, talking to her, wearing the shorts. I get so many calls – “Hey, what’s going on?”

Q: You don’t sound so high on the unrated version.

Chandrasekhar: I’m sorry! I did the movie because I got to do the unrated version. To me, the movies of John Landis are the films I loved the most, save for Airplane!, that the Zucker Brothers did. But there was some nudity, some swearing – it was all stuff a 10 year old kid wasn’t supposed to see and it made it more exciting. I think I was really happy to see Wedding Crashers did so well. Imagine the country – and maybe you’ll feel differently – imagine the country with a PG Animal House. The influence that film had, not only on our comedy senses of humor but also on college – what was great about it was that it was a little bit dangerous. The Dukes of Hazzard unrated movie has some of those elements. We shot stuff with swearing and a little bit of nudity.

Q: Were there any good old boy hijinks on the set? Moonshing? Cornholing? [I didn’t ask that one. But I wish I had.]

Chandrasekhar: Cornholing? Nice.

Yeah, there was a lot of moonshine. People would leave moonshine bottles in my trailer. Anonymously, because they were worried they were going to get busted.

Q: What does it taste like?

Chandrasekhar: It depends on what kind you have. It’s lighter fluid with a peach in it. Knoxville had a lot of moonshine. We drank a lot of moonshine down there. We wanted to get into character.