If you’re fan of Louis C.K. and his FX show Louie — which you probably are — I think you’d really enjoy the series of interviews the AV Club has done with him in which the comedian breaks down each episode from this past season of the show. The whole thing is a marathon read, but it’s broken down into four parts: part one is here, part two is here, part three is here and part four is here. I finally started reading them all over the weekend on a plane and finally finished last night and good lord were they interesting — I really can’t encourage you enough to set aside time to read them if you’re a fan.
Of the entire selection, I think my favorite part of the four-part interview was, not surprisingly, the portion where he discussed the scene with Dane Cook, arguably the most memorable scene from a show filled with memorable scenes, given the past the two share.
Dane and I have this weird conflict that everybody but us talks about. For four fucking years that’s all anybody would ask me about. Before I got this show, I was the guy that Dane Cook stole from. I mean every interview I did was about Dane Cook, and I hated it. I hated the whole thing. But there it was. And I knew Dane hated it. Dane and I had a little bit of an exchange through email when it first started. Neither of us was satisfied with the other’s point of view, really, but we just sort of lived with it for all these years. Last year I had Robert Kelly on the show playing my brother. Robert and Dane are very close friends, and he was opening for Dane somewhere on the road when I asked him to come and shoot a scene with me. So he told Dane he needed to leave his tour. I think he just told him he was going to be on TV, and Dane said, “Ooh, what show?” and he told me that Dane looked a little sad and that Dane said, “You know, the sad part is that I’d like to be in a TV show with Louie. I like him.” So when I heard that, it kind of stuck with me and I thought, “Why not put Dane in the show? How do I put Dane Cook on this show?”
I thought, “The only way it’s at all interesting is if it’s a direct fucking confrontation of what we went through together.” Somehow I got very quickly to the idea that I need something from him, for my kids. And then I wrote this scene of the two of us—I just sat in a room and I wrote it. I tried to take his point of view. For me, there’s something I learned this season, and a little bit last season, that if you’re willing to totally defend the other side, you can go anywhere. You can go to controversial places, as long as you can really give the other side the best argument, because you win just for doing it, just for taking it on. The fact that I got Dane to be on this show and I sat down and had this conversation with him, to me that’s enough of a win. That’s so great that I got to do that, to tread that really interesting territory. I don’t need to fucking win the argument too. I mean, Jesus.
So I wrote thinking about his point of view and wrote it out and then I wrote him an email and I said, “Hello. I wrote something. It’s for my show. I want to shoot it. I’d love for you to play yourself; it’s about our thing. I think if you read it, you’d want to do it. I hope you do. If you don’t, I’ll get somebody else.” And I would’ve. I would have got an actor.
AVC: Really? To play Dane Cook?
LCK: Sure, sure. It would have been worth it. I’m not harping some positive vibe; I was willing to think about doing that. But he wrote back and he said, “Your email brought up a lot of feelings. Let’s meet.” I didn’t want to send him the script because I didn’t want it out in the wild, and I don’t let anybody read my shit, or have it, really. So I said, “Just come to my office.” And the fucking guy showed up in a baseball cap and T-shirt sat down with me.
AVC: He wasn’t wearing some sort of diamond tuxedo?
LCK: [Laughs.] Yeah, exactly. He just came without any entourage and had his defenses down. Then we read it together. He even read my daughter’s parts and my agent’s and all those people. We just read it and discovered it together. It was really intense, and he said, “Wow, this is really something. I’d like to do this. I’d like to give it some thought, but I think I want to do it.” Then he went off and then he wrote me an email with a lot of notes that he wanted to protect his character by being a little funnier. He said, “I wanna portray myself as somebody who’s at peace with this, because I am. And as somebody who can get above things. I’m not an angry person. And I’m a funny guy, and I’d like some funnier lines to show that you and I can banter and that kind of thing.”
So I wrote him back and said, “No to all of that, I have no interest as portraying you as a level-headed person, not at all interesting to me.” I said, “This is really about you and me having this moment, and it’s going to be really interesting to people the way it’s written.” I’m also kind of an asshole. I can’t take notes. I said, “I totally get that you don’t want to do anything. I would never fault you for that. But if you do this piece, you have to check all your concerns at the door and just come along for the ride.” And he wrote back and said, “I’ll do it.” That’s it—that was the end of it. He showed up early on the set, prepared and extremely professional, and we shot this together. He took my directions. He read it verbatim as I wrote it. And nailed it!
He also discussed the episode he did with my old friend from the subway.