Improve Your Taste With... John C. Reilly
The comedy icon and star of Cyrus on fraternal singing teams and extreme survival narratives.
By James Brady Ryan
If you know John C. Reilly from films like The Hours, you may think of him as a great tragedian. If you know him from films like Step Brothers, you may think of him as a great comedian. Reilly is the rare actor who can move from one to the other (sometimes in one film, as in Magnolia) and never seem out of place. In the upcoming Cyrus, he shows off his comedy chops again as a middle-aged divorcee trying to date. We sat down with Reilly to talk about his favorite music club, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and the allure of extreme survival situations.
For some reason, a lot of people don't know about Lynne Ramsay, and I think she's one of the greatest directors in the world. She did two great films — one called Morvern Callar with Samantha Morton and another one called Rat Catcher, where she worked with these wild kids from the streets of Scotland who had never done any acting before. I just finished a movie with her called We Need To Talk About Kevin, with me and Tilda Swinton. It's based on a really intense book about this family having trouble with their boy, and he ends up committing this really tragic crime. I just finished filming that, and I'm a one-man Lynne Ramsay publicity machine; she's amazing. She really has the eye of an artist.
Largo at the Coronet Theater
If you're trying to improve your taste, I would highly recommend trying to check out a club called Largo in Los Angeles. Some of the best music I've ever heard, I've heard at Largo on different nights. It's constantly changing; there are a lot of different people who come through there. Jon Brion plays there every Friday night, so if you like the music that's in Paul Thomas Anderson's movies, or any of the other scores that Jon's done, it's a great chance. And a lot of times great people will stop by. I think Prince stopped by one night. Elvis Costello's been there. I've seen Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Chris Thile, who can play the mandolin like Mozart could play the organ. I've never seen that kind of virtuosity on a mandolin. I was there one night and Jon Brion and Chris were across the stage from each other, Jon with a guitar and Chris with a mandolin, just trading licks.
In the Heart of the Sea
I've been reading a lot of books about extreme adventure and survival. Endurance is about Ernest Shackleton's doomed — well, not doomed, they all survived — attempt to reach the South Pole in the early 1900s. There's a great book called The Lost City of Z, about Colonel Percy Fawcett, who was looking for El Dorado in the rainforest of South America and just disappeared. That was a fascinating story. And there's a great book called In the Heart of the Sea, the true story of the whale ship Essex, which was sunk by a white whale. It was this sensational newspaper story — this eighty-foot sperm whale rammed their boat and sunk it in ten minutes. Stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they had to fight their way back on these little whaling skiffs. I think like four people survived out of sixteen, and they ended up having to draw lots and eat each other in order to survive. And then Herman Melville read about it in the paper in Nantucket and wrote Moby Dick.
Fraternal singing teams
I would enthusiastically recommend all forms of close-harmony singing, starting with The Blue Sky Boys, The Louvin Brothers, The Everly Brothers, The Stanley Brothers. There's a long line of them. There's just something really magical about two high voices, singing harmony like that together.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
I don't really watch much TV, but I'm good friends with these guys. They just had their last season, but you can check them out on the web. They're the funniest people out there. I think they're just totally ahead of their time. The way they embrace absurdity is just really fun. Things get really gross, you know, but they're never mean-spirited; there's a lot of snarky comedy out there right now, which I don't find appealing at all. I like Tim and Eric because they're so silly. There's a lot of love in what they do. I think in ten years, twenty years, people are going to be looking at Tim and Eric the way we look at Monty Python now, like, "What were those guys doing?!"