There are plenty of movies that try to spin a popular sub-genre on its head with an added mix of humor but most of the time miss the mark. That’s not the case with “Tucker & Dale vs Evil,” a hilariously gory film that takes the slightly overused slasher genre and gives it a new twist. Starring in Eli Craig’s feature film debut is Tyler Labine, best known for his work in the TV show “Reaper” and recently appeared in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” along with “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.” Now the actor plays a character who’s just trying to keep a weekend’s worth of fishing and relaxation intact as he fights away a group of strange college kids in the woods.
At the junket for “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” we got to chat with Mr. Labine about working with Eli Craig, Alan Tudyk, improvising and how happy he is to see Canadians on the set.
ShockYa: Obviously you and Alan (Tudyk) didn’t know each other prior to shooting. Did you two rehearse a lot? Did it just work instantly, acting alongside each other?
Tyler Labine: None of the above. We didn’t know each other and we had one table reading. He (Tudyk) showed up two days before we started shooting the movie. (Laughs) I say it as if he just sauntered in. We had another actor initially who backed out in the process and kind of left Eli (Craig) hanging. Then (Alan) Tudyk came in and saved the day. He came in and we met each other and we kind of hit it off right away. Calgary was kind of a good breeding ground for getting into some mischief at the time since we were staying next to a casino. We got to bond the way that friends would naturally as well as filming it while we’re doing it.
ShockYa: What was the craziest thing that happened on set while filming?
Tyler Labine: The weather. When we first got there — I think it was June 1st and 2nd — it hailed like golf-ball sized precipitation and then two days later I had to jump in that tiny puddle of a lake which had frozen all the way to the bottom, it got that cold. So it thawed out like a few inches, but obviously it didn’t freeze over the whole pond, but it was cold as hell. It had frozen over and then it thawed out a couple of days after that but it was still just freezing cold. I dabbled with hypothermia that night so that was fun. That was good.
ShockYa: What was it about the characters that lured you to the production the most?
Tyler Labine: I’d say for me it was sort of the idea that I could strip away a lot of my usual tricks. I wouldn’t call them tricks but like the snarky, know-it-all best friend. They’re illusions, grand illusions. Eli (Craig) trusted me to really sort of really simplify what I do normally but be a really sweet kind of dumb animal. I really like the idea of doing it that way, following with your heart and feeling confused all the time and being like overtly sweet. I thought that’s cool that somebody sees that in me and let alone wants me to do it as the lead of this movie which hadn’t happened to me yet either so that was pretty appealing.
ShockYa: Did you do a lot of ad libbing, improv?
Tyler Labine: Yeah, we did. It was a very sort of unique brand of ad-libbing. Alan (Tudyk) was saying earlier that it’s not like we did it kind of an Apatow approach where we threw shit to the wall, filmed it and used it as bits. We sort of pre-ad libbed, sort of collaborated a bit on the table read with our ideas which would spark other ideas and we would shoot it with pre-approved ad libs in there. Those technicailly would lead to ad libbing on the ad lib and it just sort of kept the ball rolling with ideas all the time. It didn’t feel like — it definitely wasn’t like a Vince Vaughn movie. We weren’t definitely trying to kill off and ad lib, we were just trying to add things at that moment that sort of felt that they aided in the story line in being funny.
ShockYa: This is Eli Craig’s feature film debut. What was it like working with him as a first-time director in terms of his style and his guidance?
Tyler Labine: It was good, it was really good. I think there was some moments where Alan (Tudyk) and I were like “What are we doing? What is he doing? This doesn’t make sense. This can’t be the way you want me to do this” or even at times it was like “Are you sure you shot everything right? Did you put the camera there and shoot everything this way?” Eli (Craig) was — in retrospect afterwards when we watched the cut of the movie we were like “Whoa, okay, obviously he knew what he was doing” and kind of felt like we owed him an apology because we both didn’t totally have faith in what he was doing.
ShockYa: Do you guys have a favorite moment or scene in the movie?
Tyler Labine: I have a bunch of favorite moments. I think my favorite line is, which was an ad lib on his (Alan Tudyk) part, but it was when my character offers to serve tea and Alan’s character says “Yeah, and I’ll provide the finger sandwiches.” I think that’s a real indication of the kind of brilliance he has. It’s always about tying things in for him and its never superfluous humor. It’s never like nothing that makes sense in the story, it always calls back on things and that was a fine example of that I think.
ShockYa:Your team adversaries had limited experience, aside from Katrina (Bowden), so how was it working especially with Jesse (Moss)?
Tyler Labine: I’ve known Jesse for a long time and he’s not as young as you might think. He’s blessed. We really, other than Katrina and Jesse, we were in a different movie than the kids. That was very intentional, that was the way that Eli (Craig) wanted it to paint the scenes with different perspectives and we just didn’t — we barely knew they were there.
It was very fun for me seeing so many Canadians in the movie because I’m a Canadian and had to struggle for a long time when I was younger, finding my path and getting some exposure. And now I ended up in this really cool movie that’s being seen by lots of people. Some of my friends from Vancouver can see it so its very heartwarming for me to see some Canadian kids do it.
“Tucker &; Dale vs. Evil” is now available on Magnolia On-Demand and will be released in select theaters on September 30th.