Justin Long stars as Wallace Bryton in Kevin Smith's Tusk. (A24 Films)
Writer/director Kevin Smith’s Tusk opens tomorrow, and to celebrate the release of the sure to be cult classic we’re going to share a few things we learned about the movie when the director and cast sat down to promote the picture.
Living Out Loud: If no one is going to make the movie you wanna see about a Walrus, then you have to…
Kevin Smith: My whole career in the beginning was all about what do I want to see? There was a moment early on where there was no Clerks. I watched other comedy movies and enjoyed them but never related to the heroes. There was a disconnect somewhere. I was always waiting to see me and my friends, not us specifically, but the shit that we found fun or the people who sat around talking about movies, using movies as their primary language. The world that I knew, I had never seen up on screen. I would lament, “Why don’t they make movies about me and my friends?” Then I realized one morning, “Kevin, no one is going to make a movie about you and your friends. No one gives a shit about you and your friends. The only one who cares about you and your friends is you. So if you want to make a movie about you and your friends you have to be the one to do it.”
You can hear it on the podcast. We talk about what became Tusk in episode 259 of “SModcast,” and I’m falling in love with the idea. Why won’t people make a movie about a guy who turns another guy into a walrus? It’s so unfair, and I was sitting there going, “Well maybe you should do it. You used to be a filmmaker.” There is a point in the podcast where I had that same kind of ‘Why won’t they do this?’ [moment], and I realized, “Kevin, nobody’s gonna make the movie. The only person who wants to see that is you. If you want to make it, fucking make it.”
Justin Long, the film’s star, on contending in scenes with the legendary Michael Parks by making his captor laugh out loud:
JL: When I wake up from being sedated and I realize my leg is missing, Michael (Parks) found it hilarious so he started laughing during one of the takes. Kevin came over to us afterwards, and I thought he was going to say, ‘Hey, Michael, try to keep it together,’ but he whispered to me, ‘Ad-lib more stuff because Michael thinks it’s funny. Try to get him to laugh, try to get him to break.’ I thought it was a strange direction, but I trusted it and kept ad-libbing things about the spider, and he was cracking up, really losing it. I realized afterwards that Kevin had incorporated that laughter afterwards in a way that was so eerie and made him so much more disturbing. It’s a nice accessory to Michael’s performance because throughout the course of shooting he was always taking the path less traveled. He was always making these choices that weren’t obvious.”
And embracing his inner walrus:
JL: I found myself focused in a way that I like to think maybe animals think. I went full walrus, giving myself over to those animalistic urges. I am a big claustrophobic, [so] I tried to amplify whatever fear and discomfort I had to push me to this pretty dark place. If you half-ass it or don’t really embrace it, it would really show. I tried to really embrace the walrus.”
The movie was a family affair as the store clerks were played by Smith’s daughter, Harley, and the daughter of a super talented actor who also makes a surprise appearance in the film. Father and daughter work together for the first time ever, and actress Genesis Rodriguez (daughter of international singing sensation “El Puma”) remarks how it was emotional to see family work together.
Genesis Rodriguez: It was really cool to see a dad admire his daughter, it was such a proud moment, too cute for words. It’s something a young girl is going to have forever, to be able to have shared some screen time with your dad is the greatest thing. I’ve been lucky, he [El Puma] was in my first movie. He played my wedding singer. It was great.
The spin-off feature Yoga Hosers was inspired by the work the daughters did as the clerks in Tusk but isn’t quite a sequel despite all the actors coming back, including the surprise star in “Tusk.” Osment clarifies how this works.
Haley Joel Osment: It’s the same county. The two clerks that [we] get directions from at one point get their own movie. I’m a Nazi in the ’30s, and (Genesis is) a gym teacher. It’s really neat. Other than the clerks and Guy [the characters are the same], but Justin is playing someone else completely.
Tusk releases in theaters Sept. 19.