LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director Kevin Smith and British actor James Purefoy have joined the cast of the Showtime comedy pilot "Manchild."
The project, based on a BBC series, revolves around a group of fortysomething male friends (Smith, Purefoy, John Corbett, Paul Hipp) who are knee-deep in midlife crises.
Smith will play Paul, the cynic of the group, an angry divorced guy who loathes himself, his ex and his ex's perfect new husband.
Purefoy will play Joe, the ad hoc leader of his circle of pals. He is attractive, polished, virile and wealthy, goes to the hottest new clubs and doesn't date anyone over 25.
If "Manchild" goes to series, it will mark Smith's first regular primetime gig. He executive produced ABC's short-lived animated series "Clerks," based on his critically acclaimed indie feature. Onscreen, Smith is best known as Silent Bob, a character he has played in most of his movies, most recently in "Clerks II."
Purefoy stars as Mark Anthony on the HBO series "Rome," which is wrapping production on its second and final season. His feature credits include "Vanity Fair," "Resident Evil" and "A Knight's Tale."
Yes - I'm gonna be in the pilot for (and, God-willing, the series of) "Manchild". Here's how it happened...
A few weeks back, Brent Morely - one of the agents at Endeavor - called to say "There's this Showtime pilot I want to send you to take a look at, because I think you'd dig the sensibility."
Every few months, scripts get sent my way from various studios looking for a rewrite or comedic punch-up, but I haven't done one since "Coyote Ugly" - probably because, after all my work on that script, they hired a director who, naturally, wanted to bring his writer aboard the project, and almost all of my stuff got shit-canned. Generally, the scripts just sit on a pile near my desk for close to a year before they hit the trash - which isn't a statement on the scripts themselves as much as as statement about my lack of interest in rewrite gigs.
When it hit the pile, the "Manchild" script caught my eye because a) the script was very slim, and b) the cover letter said nothing about rewriting. I was directed to read with an eye toward the role of "Paul".
An acting gig? Were they kidding? I'm not an actor.
So while Jen was sitting on the bedroom couch reading a book with Harley, I sat on the other end of the couch and started leafing through the "Manchild" script, curious as to why anyone would think of me in conjunction with this show.
Then, I laughed. Out loud (or "LOL'ed" in the parlance of this medium).
Jen's head immediately snapped up from the kid's book and she stared at me, agog.
"Really?!" she asked, stupefied.
"It was a pretty funny line," I explained.
Her reaction was based on the fact that I rarely laugh at anything on the page. Sure, I can split my sides at something like "Arrested Development" or the latest Carlin album (or "Borat", I'm promised; I haven't seen it yet); but when it comes to scripts, it's rare that I react aloud at all (even at my own shit).
So I go back to reading, and within a few minutes, I laugh aloud again.
It was a truly funny script. And the part they'd earmarked for me to look at was a really funny character in a script full of funny stuff.
So I called Agent Brent back and said "I'd do this, sir. In a heartbeat."
I met with the show creators, Robb and Mark Cullen ("Lucky" and "Heist"), as well as Darren Starr (show producer) and Stephen Gyllenhaal (show director and father of Jake) a few days later, found them all to be good guys, and suddenly, we were off and running.
We shoot the pilot in December, after I finish this other, two-day acting gig on a feature. If Showtime digs the pilot, we go to series two months or so after that. With twelve eps a season, it means I'm out of the directing game (which should please some folks) for only about four months out of the year.
I don't know how Showtime will position the show (if they pick it up), but it'll be a nice addition to their schedule alongside "Weeds". It's frank, crude, honest and funny: kinda like the flicks I do, if all the characters had high-paying jobs. While it's based on the BBC show of the same name, from what I understand (never having seen the original), the Cullens kept the premise and title and re-built everything else. The original was compared to "Sex and the City", so it makes sense that Darren is involved.
The only daunting aspect is that I'm surrounded by real, honest-to-goodness actors (James Purefoy, John Corbett, Paul Hipp). Thankfully, I got my first taste of acting beside real actors (the Silent Bob stuff barely counts) in "Catch & Release" (in theaters this January), so I've already got a bit of experience feeling inferior all the time (shit - I've got a lifetime of experience in that department, to be honest).
It should be an interesting exercise that, if the show works as well as the script, will turn into a sweet side-gig for me. At the very least, I'll learn a thing or two about acting; at the most, I'll have something to do four months out of every year, and be proud as punch to be involved with one really insightful and fucking funny show.
To say I never imagined something like this for myself is a gross understatement; this gig really, really comes out of the blue for me. But when someone hands you something as engaging and hysterical as the pilot for "Manchild" and says "We'd like you to be a part of it"... Jesus, saying no isn't an option.
Hopefully, y'all will tune-in when (and if) we go on air.