I think that before you start reading this interview there is something you should know. Just about everything Will Arnett and Amy Poehler say is a joke. While I’m sure that the majority of you readers would be able to figure that out, it is the one yokel who reads this and thinks that Will Arnett is serious when he talks about how horrible Will Ferrell is or that Amy Poehler is really planning to burn down 30 Rockefeller Center that I’m worried about. The last thing I want to see is some idiot going to a Yahoo! message board and talking about how mean Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are (unless they link to this here article, in which case feel free).
Arnett and Poehler, who are married, have each had careers filled with critical praise. Arnett, like most of the cast from Arrested Development, came off of a show that suffered horrible ratings to end up in a number of films. Amy Poehler has become a major player on Saturday Night Live since joining the cast in 2001. She was also a member of The Upright Citizens Brigade and is in one of my favorite comedies of all time, Wet Hot American Summer.
In Blades of Glory, Arnett and Poehler play a brother/sister skating team who are a little too close. I don’t know who decided to cast the very funny married couple, but they deserve a raise. On and off screen, Poehler and Arnett have a great give and take; each one builds off the others joke and they keep upping one another until you can’t breath you’re laughing so hard. If I was allowed to have dinner with the celebrity couple of my choice, it would be these two.
Now, I have to admit that transcribing this interview was a bit hard. There were three, count them, three separate occasions that were deemed high five worthy, a chugged Red Bull almost killed Arnett and gave Poehler a boost she wasn’t prepared for and a poker game almost broke out.
Amy Poehler - Did you see the movie?
Amy Poehler - Did you like it?
Amy Poehler - Excellent, thanks.
How did you guys get this? Did you audition together?
Will Arnett – I almost dropped out when I found out that Will Ferrell was signed on. He comes in with a lot of attitude and he’s fairly ‘roided up and I don’t endorse that. I mean, we have to think about kids, they’re our whole future.
Amy Poehler - But we kept getting these threatening letters in the mail with cut out letters from news papers that said "Do the movie or else" and they were all signed by Will Ferrell.
Will Arnett - Why cut out all that stuff then sign your name to it? And also a little thing that says ‘This is a DNA sample just to prove its really me’?
Amy Poehler - Will and I had a blast working together on Saturday Night Live, so in all honesty I was psyched to work with him again.
Was it easy for you to work together with the type of relationship your characters have in the movie?
Will Arnett – Well, we’re not brother and sister, I don’t know if you knew that.
Amy Poehler - We checked before we started filming, cause that would have been weird.
Did you base your performances on an actual skating duo?
Will Arnett - The Olympics were on right about the time we were starting and one of the couples we drew a little inspiration from was the Italian couple Blahdini and Blahdini or whatever their names are.
Amy Poehler – They were in the couples division and it was a great example of high drama in real life where she was dropped and their routine ended and she would not stop starring at him.
Will Arnett - It was thirty seconds of awkwardnesses. Everyone had finished clapping and she kept staring at him.
Amy Poehler - She was furious and the commentator says ‘She will not forgive him’.
Will Arnett – Then they skated off to the kiss and cry area, where they wait for the scores to come up, and you could tell that he felt so guilty, they would have won if he didn’t drop her, and he’s looking everywhere but at her and she’s boring a hole into his head.
How was it playing the assholes in the movie?
Will Arnett - I don’t know, ask Will Ferrell.
—Will Arnett starts a wave of high fives across the room. If there wasn’t energy before, there sure is now–
Will Arnett - Whoo! We’re having a good old time at roundtable one!
Amy Poehler - Roundtable one let me hear you!
Will Arnett - Playing the assholes in the movie is fun.
Amy Poehler - Its super fun. Playing the assholes in a movie is fun. We got to be total jerks, it was great.
How physically tough was it to get in shape for the movie?
Amy Poehler - We trained for a few months. Will knew how to skate cause he’s from Canada and I had to learn from scratch.
Will Arnett – Amy did an awesome job.
Amy Poehler - Thank you
Will Arnett - You’re welcome. Its good to see you.
Amy Poehler - Good to see you too.
Would you say that Will Ferrell and Jon Heder had more of the creative routines?
Will Arnett - What movie were you watching, sir?
Amy Poehler - Yeah, they would have had to do a lot but what people don’t know is that we did Will and Jon’s skating for them.
Will Arnett - We doubled for them.
Amy Poehler - All their really hard moves? It was really us.
Will Arnett - I was Will’s comedy double as well. Comedy double and coach. I don’t want to make a big deal of it. I mean, you can write about it if you want but I’m so modest about it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about Arrested Development. A while back there was a rumor that there could be a movie.
Will Arnett - Who said that? The internet said that.
Amy Poehler - I have got to check out this thing called the internet. What is it exactly, is it on computers?
Will Arnett - I’ve sent you like thirty letters about this. No, I don’t know if that would ever happen or not. It would be a lot of fun to do. And to go back and work with all those folks that I love would be great.
Do you think that the network didn’t really give the show a chance?
Will Arnett – I’m of two minds about it. Yeah, it is a shame that it was cancelled so early on but having said that we never really got any ratings and Fox kept us on the air for three years. They didn’t have to do that.
Amy Poehler - Its America’s fault.
Will Arnett – Its the fault of the American children. Children should be ashamed of themselves.
Amy Poehler – Now that they’re going to have Nielson Ratings on college campuses things will probably change with what shows stay around.
Will Arnett – Yeah, if they had that for Arrested Development, we would probably still be on the air. We had a big college following.
Amy Poehler - Though the idea of a college student taking the time to fill out their Nielson sheet I can’t see.
Will Arnett - Well, for money. College kids will do anything for money; believe me. Believe me.
Amy, do you have any plans to leave Saturday Night Live?
Amy Poehler - Well, I’m finishing up this season and I’m signed for next year too. I’ve been having a blast this year and I love the people I work with. Its a really addictive job.
Will Arnett – Are you planning on burning the building to the ground when you leave?
Amy Poehler - No one will be left alive. If I’m not there, the show don’t go on. Unless they change it. I don’t care what they change the show to as long as it’s different.
Will Arnett - How about The Amy Poehler Memorial Night Live Show?
Amy Poehler - I like that.
Will Arnett – Wow, what an ego!
Amy Poehler - You suggested it.
Will Arnett - But you didn’t need to agree!
What are you guys working on next?
Amy Poehler - I’m working on a film with Tina Fey called Baby Mama for Universal. I play the baby’s mama and Tina plays a high powered executive who tries to have a baby but can’t so she hires me to have it. Its very Odd Couple.
—-At this point, someone brings in a few Red Bulls for Will and Amy. Will downs most of his in one gulp—
Will Arnett - Ahh, personality in a can! We’re gonna need another half hour in here!
Amy Poehler - Here we go roundtable one!
Will Arnett – Come on roundtable one!
Amy Poehler - It looks like cheap beer. Or urine.
Will Arnett - High fives!
—High fives for everyone!—
Will, what are you doing next?
Will Arnett - Having a seizure, I drank that stuff way too fast. Someone put a wallet in my mouth. I just finished up The Brothers Solomon with Will Forte and I have a few scenes in Hot Rod with Andy Sandberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. I’m working with Will Ferrell again on Semi-Pro.
What part do you play in Semi-Pro?
Will Arnett – Will plays the owner/coach/player of the Flint Tropics and I am his color commentator for the team.
Do you both have similar styles of comedy? Do you both do a lot of improv? Is one of you more structured?
Will Arnett – I think we both work better in a free environment where you can do more of what you want. I reject the scripted format. That’s why I love the real world so much, it’s so real.
Amy Poehler - I can’ wait for reality movies.
Will Arnett - They already started.
The Real Cancun.
Amy Poehler - That’s right! And Jackass.
Will Arnett – What else? Haven’t there been other reality movies?
Amy Poehler – And every documentary in history.
Will, you had a great scene with Will Ferrell when you’re chasing him on skates through a building and on the street.
Will Arnett – I’m a great runner.
It was really funny. Was it physically demanding?
Will Arnett - It was. I was tired. We shot that over the course of a week in Montreal. The first shot I did for the movie was inside the mall when I’m chasing Will and I end up doing the splits and stuff. Even though it was so physically demanding it was great because we got to work with stunt guys that we could push to the ground. They had to condense the scene; if I had it my way, the chase would have been a half hour long.
Half the people in that scene are stunt men and there was one take were I literally pull myself up by holding on to this guy’s face. My hands are on his face and I pull myself into frame. Ferrell and I went wild a couple of times, we kept pulling down the kiosks and going on rampages.
Amy, you play a character in Shrek 3; how was it to work on that?
Amy Poehler - It was super fun. I play Snow White. I’ve started to do a lot more animation stuff. I did all my stuff on my own, so I didn’t have anyone to play off of really, but it was really fun. I play Snow White as kind of a Type A personality
Do you enjoy working in animation?
Amy Poehler - I love it.
Will Arnett - Animated is really fun because you can go off into any direction you want. There’s no limit to what you can do, you can’t go over the top in animation. Well, I can but most people can’t.
You’re working on an animated film too?
Will Arnett - I’m doing a bunch. I’m in Brad Bird’s new one, Ratatouille.
Who are you in Ratatouille?
Will Arnett – I play the German sous-chef. Amy and I are also working on Horton Hears A Who. We’re also working on Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
What is that?
Amy Poehler - Its an awesome idea. We’re spearheading that. Bust busy busy!
So you guys are working together a lot.
Amy Poehler - Well, we’re not a comedy team.
Will Arnett - In the animated world we’re working together, but in the real world we’re not a comedy team anymore. We toured for fourteen years.
Amy Poehler – Yeah, we did it all. We met in the Poconos. That Red Bull is starting to kick in now.
Will Arnett - Sweet!
Amy Poehler - Are we at a stopping point?
We could play poker.
Amy Poehler - You guys want to play some poker?
Will Arnett - That would actually be the best way to do something like this.
Amy Poehler - A four hour game to get one good quote.
Who are your comic heroes?
Amy Poehler - Cheech and Chong.
Will Arnett - Number one.
Amy Poehler – Always Cheech and Chong.
Will Arnett - Bill Murray is tough to beat as a comedic actor.
Amy Poehler - The little girl from Small Wonder.
The little girl robot?
Amy Poehler - That is the one. I loved Gildna Radner and Steve Martin growing up. Woody Allen. The SCTV people.
Will Arnett - I stay away from them?
Amy Poehler - Who?
Will Arnett - The STD people.
Amy Poehler - No, the SCTV people.
Will Arnett – Oh, well, that’s a little different. My favorite comedy of all time is Withnail & I.
Amy Poehler - Mine is Earnest Goes to Camp.
Will Arnett – And you should be proud of that.
Amy Poehler - Jim Varney was a genius. I was trying to think of the exact opposite of Withnail & I.
Withnail & You?
Amy Poehler - That would be it.
Will Arnett - That’s good!
Amy Poehler - Its too stressful to name your comedy heroes.
Will Arnett - Because some people will read it and think ‘My name better come up’. Like Will Ferrell.
Do you have a preference between TV and film?
Amy Poehler - I don’t know, they’re both real different. SNL has this nice schedule where you have pockets of time to go do films. I don’t enjoy getting up early, but I do enjoy staying up late.
Will Arnett – That is true. She’s a real night person. SNL is the perfect job for her in a lot of ways. I liked making Arrested Development. I’m really spoiled because our writers were fantastic and Mitch Hurwitz, the creator of the show, is a genius. All the actors I got to work with on the show were so wonderful. Honest to God, I did not have one day where I wanted to do something else; I always had a smile on my face because it was such an excellent experience.
Amy Poehler – Where as doing Blades of Glory we would see Will Ferrell.
Will Arnett - Ugh, Ferrell, what a bummer that guy is.
Amy, what do you think about 30 Rock and Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip? Both are pretty heavily based on SNL.
Amy Poehler – I‘m a huge fan of 30 Rock. Tina (Fey) is fantastic on it.
Were you surprised that she would do a show like that?
Amy Poehler - No. I wasn’t surprised that Tina did a show like that because she does a great job at getting the tone and knowing what the writers room is like. I never really watched Studio 60, but 30 Rock is great.
Will, have you ever had run ins with real magicians that were upset over your character on Arrested Development?
Will Arnett - Sometimes. It would vary. Every once and a while we would have real magicians on the show; we always had guys who would come by and help me out if I had to create fire or have a pigeon come out of my jacket. Sometimes they would hire real magicians so we could get real crowd reactions to real magicians and there were a couple of dudes who weren’t that into it. One guy told me that our show spelt the end of magic and I was like, well, whatever. I mean, come on man. This one guy that would help us out was named James Brown and he said "I feel good". And that means high five!
—-A third set of high fives fly all around. Amy Poehler opens the door to the room and starts shouting into the hall—-
Amy Poehler – Roundtable one rules!
Will Arnett – This just in, roundtable one wins!