Directed by award-winning film and music video director Jonas Åkerlund, the indie comedy Small Apartments features Billy Crystal, Rosie Perez, Johnny Knoxville, James Marsden, and Rebel Wilson among others to round out a campy all-star comedic cast. (Small Apartments is out on DVD and iTunes February 19.)
In the lead is out actor Matt Lucas (Little Britain, Bridesmaids), who stars as Franklin Franklin, a clumsy, pathetic recluse who plays the alphorn, dreams of Switzerland, and embarks on a hapless journey to cover-up the death of his landlord. "My character may or may not have killed his landlord, but one thing that is for sure is that the landlord is lying dead in the apartment," Lucas explained in a recent interview. "Billy Crystal's character has the job to work out how the landlord died, who if anyone was responsible, and whether Franklin will be caught or not or escape or not."
Thinking of the dysfunctional character's personality, Lucas also picked out Franklin's clothing or, rather, lack of, so he spends much of the movie in white briefs and a variety of bad wigs. Taking from his own personal experience, Lucas said if he knows he's not going out of the house, he'll just stay in his pajamas or underwear all day. "I feel it's real ... I don't have Ashton Kutcher's looks to lose. It never occurred to me that anybody would be too shocked because it's not like you'd look at me at any other point. And didn't think I'd look like that."
Small Apartments director Åkerlund selected Lucas himself after seeing him in Little Britain. "That was a great compliment because I'm a great fan of the pop videos that he has made for people like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears—if you watch Small Apartments, you'll see that I have larger breasts than any of them!"
The film premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, and was written by Chris Millis—based on his novel which won the 3-Day Novel-Writing Contest in 2000. Since it was filmed in LA, producers were able to access great actors for cameos, Lucas said, while sharing that Marsden, a "key role" in the movie, and Perez came on board a day before filming. "I only worked a little bit with Billy, maybe one or two scenes, but it was a real thrill," Lucas said. "He's very disarmingly, refreshingly honest. There's no Hollywood nonsense around him. When you talk to him, you get a real person... I felt very honored because he spoke to me like an equal. I feel he, for me, is exceptional in the film."
On working with Johnny Knoxville: "I was so happy to work with [him], because I'm genuinely a big Jackass fan. … You go through every different emotional response. Johnny in real life is about the most kind of lovable man you'll ever meet. He's very humble, very refreshing sense of his own absurdity-which is rare to find in hollywood. At the bottom of it, he's a damn good actor, and I think he performance in this movie will really impress people. Working with him and getting to know him as a friend has been only positive. We've stayed in touch, as I've stayed in touch with Billy, I love Johnny Knoxville—if it was a warm enough I'd wear a T-shirt that said 'I love Johnny Knoxville' right now."
While we were hoping Lucas and Rebel Wilson would create more onscreen magic again, they unfortunately didn't have a scene with one another in the film. "Rebel makes a cameo appearance, but not with my character. However, what I do is... I saw the part and insisted that Rebel get seen, and this was before Rebel was necessarily as well-known as she is now," Lucas shared. "Rebel improvised a lot, and she's brilliant. It's a small role, but Jonas's greatest regret is not having her more to do in the movie."
As some may already know, Lucas and Wilson live together as roommates in West Hollywood, and they hope to work together again. "Hopefully we'll do more stuff together, I think she's brilliantly funny and people really love her. I recently went with her to New York, and it was like being with the First Lady. People were thrilled to see her, she got mobbed everywhere she went. I became her bodyguard. And that's the way it should be."
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Small Apartments is out on DVD and iTunes February 19.