In The Long Dumb Road (which is out in limited release and on VOD), Jason Mantzoukas plays Richard, a progressively troublesome road trip companion for the somewhat naive Nat, played by Tony Revolori (Spider-Man: Homecoming). In some ways, it’s a departure for Mantzoukas, who manages to stand out no matter how often he’s on screen in The League, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, The House, and countless other comedies. Here, there’s a little bit more drama and a lot more screen time, but no less impact.
Uproxx spoke with Mantzoukas about the appeal of taking on a leading role in The Long Dumb Road, his own experiences on the road, the common thread that runs through a number of his characters, his work voicing Jay on Big Mouth, and we definitely don’t get to the bottom of who he’s playing in John Wick 3.
I was researching you and I saw that you had done the Watson Fellowship. That kind of parallels with the journey Tony Revolori’s character is taking in this film where he’s seeing the US and finding new perspectives. Did your experience with that and two years abroad give you a nudge towards taking this on?
Oh, that’s interesting. In Tony’s case, he’s going to college. For me, it was just out of college, but yeah, like getting yourself into those situations that could be fun and then it turns into something that could be scary or dangerous. I think we’ve all made those choices and stuff. And I feel like this movie really gets at that kind of like, “Oh, no. What have I done?” for Tony’s character. And I really enjoyed playing the other side of that. Of being the character who is charming and funny, and who you wanna be around. But also, at times, scary and sketchy, and who you might be a little fearful of.
Do you have any experiences meeting anybody like that when you were traveling?
I’m trying to think. I mean, not really. I don’t have a good story, unfortunately, that would fit what you’re asking. I wish I did.
You could make something up.
[Laughs] The truth, Jason. I only speak the truth.
Any road trip experiences that you pulled from for this role or was it pretty much all laid out on the page?
It was pretty much all laid out on the page. I mean, in terms of the beats of who these guys were. But then I’ve also done a whole bunch of road trips. Both, kind of as you mentioned, living abroad. And then, also, I lived in New York. I came up in the comedy scene in New York for many years, but would go out to Los Angeles for pilot season. So every year, we’d drive cross country for pilot season and back. That was amazing. I got to see so much of the country. Those were trips that I loved. A lot of what attracted me to the movie was my genuine fondness for those type of road trips, actually.