I’ll just go ahead and say this up front: I should have done this better.
I don’t think it’s a bad interview, per se, but I like Zach Galifianakis, both as an actor and as a comic, and I think he’s one of those guys with a razor-sharp mind. I also think it’s really easy to lose him in a conversation if you’re not keeping him interested. When you’re at a junket, you’re one of a parade of people who trot into the room in what must feel like a blur to the people sitting in that chair, and you don’t really have a conversation. You have the illusion of a conversation. You have to hit the ground running and then hope you can get one or two good sound bites before they hustle you out the door for the next person.
With Zach, I feel like I never really found my way into the conversation, and the result is a perfectly pleasant five minutes or so, but that’s not what I was hoping for. I was hoping I’d engage him and draw something special out of him. Nope.
He gives a very strong performance in “Puss In Boots” as Humpty Alexander Dumpty, an egg who grew up with Puss In Boots in an orphanage, and who plays a key role in the adventure that Puss goes on in the film. It’s a surprising piece of work, subtle and sad at times and deeply, deeply strange. The design of the character is something else, oddly lifelike despite the fact that he’s… well, as I said, an egg.
I think you could have cast 20 other people as Humpty and you would have gotten fairly normal, completely expected performances that emphasized the character’s biggest mannerisms. Zach went the other direction entirely, and the result is something I just plain didn’t expect. I love being surprised in the theater, and I think because the work itself is so good, that’s the main reason I wish I’d either had more time with Zach or that I’d figured out the right way into this discussion.
Whatever the case, it’s always good to see him, and in this case, I think he’s given one of the year’s unlikeliest great performances.
“Puss In Boots” opens everywhere this Friday.