TJ Miller: Shaking the Camera with Cloverfield’s Hud (or quite possibly the funniest interview ever!) By Brian Kirst
Comedian/actor TJ Miller burst like a hungry monster’s child through the gut of humanity with his portrayal of Hud in last winter’s blockbuster Cloverfield. Although the memorable Hud did not survive his encounter with the beast beyond the skies, his portrayer, thankfully, has been much luckier. With a busy touring schedule and numerous movie appearances, the hilarious Miller recently took some time from his impossibly hectic schedule to gregariously answer some questions for Horror Society. Read on, dear friends, I can guarantee that you’ll never be the same!
Brian: Who were your first performing influences – Bob Denver prat falling across a fake tropical island – Richard Pryor setting the audience (not himself) in fire – a drunken, tap dancing ukulele playing uncle?
TJ: Steve Martin, Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers and certainly my father putting his face in the mashed potatoes and pretending to stick corn on the cob in his ear.
Brian: Marmaduke is a famous cartoon dog and the name of your character on Carpoolers. What other dog’s name do you also think would make a great character name?
TJ: I want to name my dog Allison Galansky. It’s my mother’s friend’s name, and I think it’s a really funny name, and a good name for a dog. No offense to her. -Maybe “Clifford the big red nosed drunken stay-at-home-son?” I knew a dog named that. Or at least I called him that. Well, I called his owner that because his dog was giving me a dirty look. Dogs can’t give dirty looks? B.S., this one did.
Brian: You appear in Sugar. What other condiment would make a great movie?
TJ: I don’t even really appear in that movie. But if I had to name a movie after a condiment, I think English Mustard would be good. It’s about a British Colonial who has a spicy, sassy attitude and makes his subordinates cry by teasing them about their clothes.
Brian: What was your reaction upon winning the role of Hud in Cloverfield?
TJ: I like that you make it sound like it was a competition or sport that I triumphed in. I went up to the losers of that role and said “IN YOUR FACE. FACE FACE!” And then I poured Gatorade all over my coach. – I actually didn’t know what Cloverfield was going to be about, so I was sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. I thought it might be some romantic teen comedy. I’m glad it ended up being what it was. I remember being in a hotel in New York City with my manager on the phone with all these agents, talking about if I should do the movie and finally I said “does anyone here know what this is? Anyone? Have any idea what this movie could possibly be about?” And no one knew. They all said “Well, we think it’s not Star Trek.” It was a pretty funny moment.
Brian: What was the most physically strenuous part of filming Cloverfield?
TJ: Holding the camera and shooting 1/3 of the movie. And not being paid for it. That was pretty strenuous.
Brian: How much filming were you actually doing as Hud?
TJ: I filmed basically everything at the party, and over 1/3 of the entire movie. It was a bizarre first film to be in, as nothing has really been shot like that at that scale. But it was a really rewarding film to be in. How often are you in something that is that unique? In Hollywood today? The answer is once every 6 to 8 months.
Brian: Many people got physically ill watching the shaky point of view camera work of Cloverfield. What is something that makes you physically ill, personally?
TJ: I get pretty ill on the microphone if you know what I mean. I’m talking about rap. Rap hip hop. It’s strictly off the dome with me, all freestyle, no prewritten shit. So don’t even try to play me like that, I’m not a record and you’re not a record player from the 1930’s, so don’t play me like that. – I get pretty sick of people asking me to “do the dang thang.” – Tequila once made me vomit Popeye’s Fried Chicken. Actually, Popeye’s fried chicken made me vomit Popeye’s Fried Chicken. I drank tequila at some point that week also.
Brian: What has been the best part, thus far, of being involved in a phenomenon like Cloverfield – working with the cast, the recognition…?
TJ: The recognition for sure. I mean, no one knows I was in it, because I’m hardly on camera, but I think that’s what I do it for…the possibility that someone in a bank or other public place will hear me scream “Oh my God, Oh my God!” and recognize me from the movie. That’s the best part. Also, now I party with Michael Stahl-David and have to hear about Mike Vogel’s kid a lot. I’m in another movie with Mike Vogel, which is pretty bizarre. We’re a strange comedy team he and I. Guess which one is the handsome one, and which one is the toddler-bodied alcoholic?
Brian: Lastly, any words of advice (IE: Always run quickly when the top half of the Statue of Liberty comes flying at you) or future projects that you’d like to leave us with? And – thanks! This has been better than Amateur Comedy night at the Old Pluck n’ Grill!
TJ: Nothing is better than Amateur Comedy night at the Old Pluck n’ Grill. Look for me in a few movies coming up, a Dreamworks film in the spring (She’s Out of My League) and a Mike Judge film out next year (Extract). I’m also on the TV every so often, but please visit my website and sign up for my mailing list if you enjoy my comedy: www.tjmillerdoesnothaveawebsite.com, and be my facebook or myspace internet friend. I’ll leave you with this: If you like a girl, and you want to kiss her or be with her, you need to tell her so, and really go for it, don’t hesitate, live in the moment. Because she might blow up after being bitten by a parasite that dropped from a giant monster attacking New York City. Okay? Don’t let life pass you by.