Joel Moore is known best for his roles in films like “Dodgeball” and “Grandma’s Boy” and most recently a little film called “Avatar”. Joel also stars in David Ellis’ “Shark Night 3D”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Joel about working with James Cameron on “Avatar” and on his upcoming films.
Mike Gencarelli: You started your career with notable comedy roles in “Dodgeball” and “Grandma’s Boy.” Has comedy always come easy for you
Joel Moore: Yes. When I was younger I always wanted to be a clown. But when I got old enough I realized that was probably a bad career move so I got into acting. But I learned very early on that I won’t get beat up by the bullies at school if I just fall on my own head. So that really worked out. I think that comedy comes naturally to me, though I don’t consider myself a “comedian.” I see these guys doing stand up and I know that it’s very hard work…probably some of the hardest work in this business. And acting also gives me the opportunity to bounce around and do comedies or do drama. I made a point to try to do both comedy and drama early on so I wouldn’t get type cast into one little area of this industry. And that made things much easier on both sides. Right after “Dodgeball”, I directed a feature where I played a sort of out of touch guy who could be a serial killer. A movie called “Spiral.” And one of the reasons that we did it was because it was completely the opposite of what I had been doing before that. It was an exciting move and something I really want to pursue, being on the director’s side of the camera.
MG: Tell us about what it was like working on such a big film like “Avatar”?
JM: It was a two and a half year process and whenever you’re working with Jim Cameron you’re working with a guy who has the bar raised so high that it forces, in a healthy way, everybody’s endeavors to reach that same level. He’s the hardest guy working on the set. He’s the first one in and the last one out. It’s the best example of “helming” a project that I’ve ever been a part of and I think I ever will be. I can’t wait for the sequels coming up. Working with Jim is like going to graduate school. It really was. It was such an experience and such an education for me that it’s almost beyond words.
MG: Would you say it was the hardest project you have worked on to date?
JM: Yes, because of the technology…because of the fact that a lot of it was being created and built as we were going so you’re really doing two things at once. You’re creating the idea of what it’s going to look like as you’re shooting and building the project at the same time. It really was the chicken and the egg at the same exact time. It was fascinating to watch. You know with all of that pressure I would have been having panic attacks every day but the guy is made of stone…he’s made of giant stone balls! Two giant stone balls and they’re very heavy!
MG: Obviously the sequel(s) are a few years away,.. do you hope to be involved?
JM: I have no idea about what’s coming up. It’s all in Jim’s head at this point and he’s going to be the person who will be asking and answering all of the questions. It should be fun to see what happens with it.
MG: You co-directed, produced and wrote “Spiral” with Adam Green as well as starred in it. Tell us about that experience?
JM: The experience was something I’d always been interested in ever since college. I wrote a play and it got put on at the college and I thought “this is interesting…to see my words come alive on stage. So Adam and I set out to write something small. Something we could get the funding for privately so we didn’t have to go through the studio system. It was hard wearing a lot of hats which is why Adam and I decided to take this adventure on together and co-direct it. It’s very hard to do so many things at once because you’re not really wearing a bunch of hats, you’re taking one hat off and putting another one on. So when I’m in front of the camera I just have to wear the acting hat. If I’m behind I have to wear the director hat. It’s a lot of shuffling, but I happen to be a good shuffler! (laughs)
MG: Any future plans to direct?
JM: Yes. I’m putting a project together that’s currently under wraps. It’s a dark comedy and we’re really excited about it. It’s going to get off the ground around the middle of this year and it will be a good follow up to “Spiral.” It’s a little different and on the lighter side of things. I’m really excited about it and excited to get it going and add another “feature director” credit under my belt. I’m going to actually say the name of the film so we can have it in print. It’s called “Killing Winston Jones.”
MG: So you’ve just given me an exclusive here?
JM: Exactly! An exclusive.
MG: Tell us about your role in David Ellis’ upcoming 3D shark thriller?
JM: It’s actually really fun. I think people are going to enjoy it. It’s based on true events that happened post-Katrina where, because of the levees breaking, sharks could come into the waters around the area. Chris Briggs, the producer, he’s kind of a genius. He was behind the whole “Hostel” franchise. He come up with the great marketing ploy that sharks sell movie tickets. At first I was like, “oh no, a shark movie” but it really falls into a fun realm. I like to pop in and do some commercial fun stuff. It’s a big movie and it’s full of action. It’s fun…it’s funny! The whole cast was wonderful. We became a tight knit group. There’s a lot of talent. They were the young talent and I was the old talent on the set. All those young kiddies running around…they didn’t listen to me at all!
MG: So was the film actually shot in 3D?
JM: I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t. That was one of the key points when the offer came through…that it was going to be shot in REAL 3D. There’s no shitty transferring afterwards that makes the 3D look crappy. It’s the real deal. It really was important to me. If I’m going to do a silly fun movie like this I want to do something that honors the true side of 3D. David (Ellis, the film’s director) is good at what he’s done. He’s done it before and he knows how to make all of that action work really well, which is a big driving force to making an action/thriller.
MG: What else do you have planned for the future?
JM: I signed on to “Hawaii Five-0” this year and that should be fun. It’s a big show and people seem to enjoy it. I just finished my first episode. The cast is great. Alex (O’Loughlin” and Scott (Caan) are great. I couldn’t say kinder words about them. They’re having fun. As they should…they’re shooting in Hawaii! You can’t get much better than that. Then I have the upcoming film I’m going to direct and play the lead in. And I’m filling time between now and when the “Avatar” sequels start. I’ve got a couple movies coming up, one I’d like to mention called “Janie Jones.” It’s just a fantastic little story that stars Alessandro Nivola and Abigail Breslin. I’ve seen it and it’s such a wonderfully touching story. I’m excited for people being able to see it. The cast is great. Frank Whaley…Elisabeth Shue. It should be coming out at some point this year. Just a great little movie!