Adam Carolla Talks The Hammer, Rebecca Gayheart, and Shoddy Distributors

I think Adam Carolla is the sort of guy you have to like. He's extremely forthright, you know where he stands, and he's legitimately funny. See? What's not to like? So when I was offered the chance to interview him I said "yes, indeed". Here's what transpired.

Laremy Legel: Are you aggravated when people say "Hey, this is a good movie?"

Adam Carolla: As far as being aggravated it's really more of a retroactive thing because when I was trying to get the movie made ... see now people see the movie and they go, "Hey man, that's a good movie," and they do it with that tone, you know?

LL: As in "What happened?"

AC: Yeah, like "what happened" or "what's going on" or "boy do I need to recalibrate whatever thoughts I had about you and your ability." After they see it and they like the movie, they're pleasantly surprised. I don't take that as a slap in the face. But imagine that sort of attitude when you're trying to make the movie. That equals zero interest. Because if everyone is pleasantly surprised after they see it imagine where their mindset is at before I make it.

I've seen a lot of reviews that use the word "actually" in it, as in "this movie is actually funny" and I don't understand where it's coming from. Not to be a blowhard, but do I have some sort of long rich history of doing horrible movies or bad sitcoms? Maybe I'm delusional but I'm usually funny. It's not 100% but I have a pretty good batting average.

LL: I heard you say on your show that you lost half a million dollars on this film. Is that still accurate?

AC: I will get some of that back. The DVD will help except for the DVD will get whacked up and me putting my five hundred grand into it doesn't mean I get the first five hundred grand back out of the DVD. That's a totally separate entity. The movie made $450k at the box office so I'll get some of that back but not nearly all of it. I won't get half of that back.

LL: Did you go the word-of-mouth direction out of necessity or for more creative control?

AC: Well, we had a very successful screening at Tribeca. The audience was standing and applauding at the end, so we assumed the offers would come pouring in. And then they didn't. And the offers that did come in were sort of like "We'll do you a favor by distributing your movie and if it makes any money we'll keep most of it."

I had no idea. I never knew how many movies get made that you've never heard of each year, movies that get released and make $21k at the box office. You start looking at these companies resumes and it is a woeful batting average. If somebody said, "We're going to put five million dollars into an outdoor campaign," I would have signed up with them. But their thing was "We'll distribute the movie but we won't do anything." Well, I've seen -- because there's this thing called the internet -- what happens to the movies that you distribute that you don't do anything with.

My thought was, hey, I can f*%k this movie up as well as anyone, we'll do it ourselves.

Adam Carolla in The Hammer



LL: I felt like the movie was a great vehicle for your bits, though it had its own pacing and conflicts of course. What was the motivation for you?

AC: It wasn't that well thought-out. I wanted to do a movie just because I'd done some TV. I did a home improvement show. I did a late-night talk show. I did a radio show. I did some animated shows. I did some producing on some shows and some creating on some shows. I just wanted to do something new, something interesting, something different. So at some point I decided I wanted to do a feature. It wasn't really that well thought-out. I didn't have a plan. I didn't think I needed to make a transition from television and radio to the theatrical world or anything.

I could definitely see myself making a serious movie or a drama in the future. I'm not comically oriented. I get angry and I start complaining and then people start laughing. I don't even want them to laugh half the time.

LL: No, you want them to legitimately make left turns at lights without needing an arrow (one of Carolla's famous rants).

AC: Yeah! I'm not kidding about most of the stuff I'm yelling about. I don't want them to laugh -- I want them to do it. That would be my greatest legacy. As far as the movie goes I just wanted to make a movie. I thought that would be a nice and interesting thing. I wanted the experience of co-writing it, editing, arm-chair directing. I just wanted to do it. When I got a lot of "What makes you think you can act?" I got really angry and I figured I'd just have to do it myself. Then eventually I wanted to make the movie to tell everyone to f* off who didn't think we could do it.

What do you think our (the film industry) batting average is for comedies? It's pretty low. For every Borat there are fifteen Fool's Golds or so? Is our batting average so f'ing high that I can't make a comedy? What's going on? And by the way, since when am I not funny? All this other stuff is the same process. You think of funny things, you write them down, you get a camera. The beauty of movies is that if you f* up you get to do it again. It's not like hosting the Oscars.

LL: Did you meet your co-writer Kevin Hench through Bill Simmons? Because I think he's name-checked him in columns before.

AC: Me and Hench met at The Man Show and then Simmons showed up over at Kimmel and we all started hanging out. Simmons, Hench, Damashek, those guys are all sports nuts. Hench is like an encyclopedia of sports knowledge.

LL: Is it true that you hate publicists?

AC: I do. The reason I hate publicists is because I think if we got rid of them everything would be on equal footing. I'll give you an example. Here's what happens. I'd run into Jeff Bridges at the airport. And he'd say, "Hey man, I love the show and I got a record coming out and I've love to be on your show. I listen all the time." And I'd go "Awesome Jeff Bridges, give me your number and I'll have my producer call you and we'll get it all set up." Then I'd give my producer the number. Then a couple weeks later I'd ask her whatever became of Jeff Bridges and she'd say, "Oh his publicist said the show doesn't really bode with Jeff's sensibilities." That would be an awesome answer except for the fact [that] Jeff came up to me and wanted to be on the show. So that's what publicists do. We don't get Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges doesn't get to be on our show. And the audience doesn't get to enjoy Jeff Bridges. Why? Because someone got in-between all of us and f&#@d it all up.

Here's another reason. Years ago I was booked to be on Craig Kilborn's show. I did the show a lot -- I was always the lead guest. I don't really care what the order is, but they usually made me the lead guest. Anyway, Rebecca Gayheart was gonna be on the show. Now back then she was basically doing Noxema commercials.

So they call me, the producer of the show [does], and sheepishly goes, "You gotta go second tonight." So I say, "That's fine." But I ask who the lead guest is and they tell me and I say, "Really? I'm doing Loveline and The Man Show and you got Rebecca Gayheart coming out in front of me? And they go, "Yeah, we don't really want to but um, we have to." So I say, "Well if you don't want her to be the lead guest, and I don't want her to be the lead guest, and the audience doesn't want her to be the lead guest then why does she get to be the lead guest?" And then I figure it out. Her publicist. Her publicist has other people that he's lorded over them. As in if you want Celeb X then you'll put her on as lead guest.

So they interfere and then they become like attorneys. You think you're getting a divorce and you'll split everything two ways and then the attorneys get involved and it's "No, no, no." Then your attorney is talking to mine. Then I have to get an attorney to talk to your attorney. Then I have to get a publicist to do battle with Rebecca Gayheart's publicist. And now we've got this whole s*&t storm where people get paid a lot of money to do nothing but have an attitude.

LL: Did Oswaldo get his SAG card out of this?

AC: Good question. I don't know. He's supposed to be at my house later so I'll ask him then.

LL: On the DVD I watched the conversation between you and Oswaldo which was pretty interesting. Hearing his story, how he came over from Nicaragua, does it make you less sympathetic to all the people out there in L.A. trying to "make it?"

AC: Yeah. I do love the interviews with the child stars and they're in High School Musical 5 and they're 15 and they say, "I've been wanting this my whole life." Your whole life? You're in the tenth grade. Your whole life? Your whole life doesn't count until you get out of high school. Ozzy probably made his feature film debut in his mid-forties after dodging bullets from the Sandanistas.

LL: When I talked to Freddie Highmore it sounded like he'd consider not acting anymore when he turned 18.

AC: Good! More parts for me. I'll be getting those good-looking 16-year-old boy parts.

LL: Yeah, I hear they are making a new Miley Cyrus film.

AC: Yep. She's gonna need a love interest!

And with that our time was up. However, I told him to call me anytime. We'll cut out the publicists together! The Hammer is out on DVD now. Be a buddy and give it a rental or purchase it now.