As soon as Amy Ryan (The Office, Birdman) saw me, she started laughing – which, if that reaction came from anyone but her, would probably be distressing. Before you read this, you should probably know that Amy Ryan and I have a history of, let’s say, odd interviews. It’s a rare journalist/interview subject relationship in which the two of us do not know each other at all outside of these interviews, yet it’s now just a known thing that when we sit in front of each other professionally we are probably going to goof around.
This time, though, the setting is at a bar on Park City, Utah’s Main Street, where the cast of Jared Hess’s new film, Don Verdean is celebrating after the film’s Wednesday night Sundance premiere. Ryan plays Carol, an assistant to Sam Rockwell’s title character – an archeologist who finds himself facilitating a series of scam jobs retrieving religious artifacts in exchange for accolades and lots of money. It’s a quirky comedy that is very much from the mind of the director of Napoleon Dynamite.
Ahead, we try our best to communicate in a noisy bar, which I will blame on the fact that, at one point, I used an awfully embarrassing choice of words.
You have a really big part in this and it made me happy.
It made me happy, too. I want to do more comedies.
You did The Office.
I know, I just want to do more. I’m getting greedy.
Was The Office the first time people thought about you with comedy? I think people think of you as funny now.
If you stand next to Steve Carell on line, even at the dry cleaner, they’re going to think you’re funny.
You get hit in the stomach with a rock in this movie and you got to do a funny moan.
I stole the moan.
What does that mean?
It says in the script I’m moaning, but there’s a classic clip on YouTube about the grape stomper. Do you know that one?
I think so?
It’s a snarky, bitchy local newscaster at a wine festival stomping grapes and she’s getting really cantankerous about it. Then she falls off the little makeshift stage, and that’s that sound, “Ohhhhhhhh.”
OK, I know exactly what you’re talking about now.
I’ve got to credit that lady, whoever she is.
How much of your free time do you spend watching YouTube videos of people being hurt?
Mostly when people send them to me. But, when I’m traveling and I can’t sleep at night, I’ll watch YouTube or trailers of movies.
Were you a Napoleon Dynamite fan?
Yes, 100 percent.
I just watched it again recently. It’s still good. I didn’t know if it would hold up.
There are movies I loved as a kid that I’m thinking of showing to my nieces, who are 14. It’s like, “Are these movies funny, or am I just a young idiot?’
The classic comedies that I loved that I like to quote were Fast Times at Ridgemont High…
That’s still a great movie.
These are all great, like Young Frankenstein, Airplane!, Meatballs.
Those are all great, but I still have movies on my list that aren’t quite as good, like Brewster’s Millions.
Brewster’s Millions! Own it.
You should be in the Brewster’s Millions reboot.
Done. My lawyer is here tonight, I’m going to tell him.
What does that mean?
He’s like powerful, I guess.
So he can save you from the Brewster’s Millions reboot?
No, I want him to start making the deal.
We’re at Sundance, this is how it happens, right?
I thought you and I were just doing one of our little famous improvs we do.
People I’ve told that I was talking to you again seemed excited. We have a lot to live up to.
We have to step it up then.
I hope people understand how noisy of an environment we are in.
Not like that Al-Qaeda holding cell we were in last time.
Speaking of last time, Birdman is cleaning up on awards.
Yeah, isn’t that great? It’s amazing.
People really do love it.
People love it. It’s not just about an actor’s world, although it takes place in a theater about an actor. It is ego. We all have egos.
You seem too nice to have an ego.
I’ve never once got a vibe from you like, “I’m f*cking Amy Ryan.”
Oh, really? That could cause a scandal. Did you hear what Mike Ryan just said? That sounds incestuous.
I can’t believe I said that.
Mike Ryan just said, “I am fucking Amy Ryan.” That’s weird! [A fan stops by our table and says, “I just wanted to say hi.”] Your timing is perfect!
To clarify, I meant it as, “I’m the shit,” which you don’t do.
My mom has me on Google alert, so you’re going to have to say I said “Frenching Amy Ryan,” or something.
I think we did it again. We have another weird interview.
OK. Now, we’re going to meet up on Goosebumps?
If I get a list of people and your name is listed, I will request it every time. I’ll write your biography someday.
And then when the Steven Spielberg movie comes out, we’ll clean it up and get real serious.
Which is still called The Untitled Steven Spielberg Cold War Thriller. But last time you told me to refer to it as The Untitled Amy Ryan Cold War Thriller.
[Laughs] I did?
Yes. I’m at least voting for that title.
I’ll second the vote.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.