Danny McBride And Walton Goggins On Syntax, Decor, And The Beginning Of The End For ‘Vice Principals’


If you’re a fan of Vice Principals, Danny McBride and Jody Hill’s slice of high school chaos and power lust, you might be a little pissed off about the fact that the show is heading toward its self-imposed end after just nine more episodes (the first of which premieres Sunday, September 17th). TV audiences are so rarely denied the chance to grow tired of a show and its characters, but McBride and Hill clearly aren’t interested in running this thing into the ground. The question is: Why?

We had the chance to sit down with McBride (who plays Neal Gamby) and his Vice Principals co-star, Walton Goggins (Lee Russell), in Manhattan this week and the conversation naturally turned to the decision to cap Vice Principals at two seasons and the benefits, drawbacks, and temptations that sparked as a result. Before that, however, we discussed the ways the characters have changed following the shocking season one finale that found Gamby bleeding out in the parking lot after getting shot, egocentric interior design, the origins of “Busted By Lee Russell,” dumb English jokes, and the “punishment” side of this two part story.

How have Lee Russell and Neal Gamby been changed by last season’s finale?

Danny McBride: When we started writing this series, we really looked at the first half as “crime” and the second half was “punishment.” So, it’s like these guys… they push themselves beyond what their own personal moral codes are to achieve this goal. They achieved it, and now it’s sort of the fallout from that. They got what they always wanted. And now, is what they wanted really the answer to what they needed? That’s what the exploration of the second season is.

What do you think, Walton?

Walton Goggins: Well, I mean, I think that I have a much bigger office. [Laughs]

Much nicer, too.

McBride: Nice decor. Business cards.

Lovely artwork. [The office now includes a looming painting of Goggins’ character].

Goggins: Yeah, that’s right.

Did you take that home with you?

Goggins: I took a couple of pieces. Yeah, I sure did.

Hang that over the fireplace. It’s a good look. A good look.

Goggins: [Laughs.] It could be or it could be, “What an asshole! What a fucking asshole. Have you been over to Walton’s house?”

McBride: [Laughs.] Portraits of himself!

Goggins: “Have you seen there’s like three paintings of himself? What an ass!”

But it’s so tasteful, I think it would be allowed.

Goggins: Yeah, thank you.

You said that there was going to be a different vibe between Jody Hill (the season one director and co-creator) and David Gordon Green (who directed the season two episodes). What has been that difference?