With roles in Workaholics, the Pitch Perfect movies and Modern Family, as well as a hit stand up comedy career, there truly is an Adam DeVine for all tastes. Born in Waterloo, Iowa, DeVine started making a name for himself in comedy in 2006, when he and friends Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Kyle Newacheck formed a sketch-comedy group that achieved success in the early days of YouTube.
The group launched Workaholics on Comedy Central in 2011, a sitcom about the lives of three college dropouts who work at a telemarketing company. With a sixth season airing, and a seventh on order, the show has become one of Comedy Central’s biggest hits, and it turned DeVine and his co-conspirators into household names. Also on television, DeVine’s role in Modern Family as Andy, the Pritchett-Delgado family manny, went from a bit part into a multi-season recurring guest role.
As Bumper Allen in the 2012 surprise hit musical comedy Pitch Perfect , DeVine attracted anew cadre of fans, starring alongside Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks as the all-ego antagonist and head of a rival a capella group. A sequel followed in 2015, and other film roles include The Intern, The Final Girls and Ice Age: Collision Course.
In Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, DeVine plays Mike Stangle. The titular Mike and Dave are brothers, warned by their family to smarten-up their hard-partying ways before their sister’s wedding in Hawaii, and to bring two respectable girls as dates. After posting an ad on Craigslist, they’re contacted by a cadre of prospective suitors, and they ultimately settle on Alice and Tatiana, whose interest in Adam and Dave extends to little more than the prospect of a free holiday on the islands.
The film is based on a true story – though the real Mike and Dave sensibly decided not to bring dates from Craigslist in the end – and was written by Andrey J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, with Jake Szymanski behind the camera. It also stars Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza.
When did you first hear Mike and Dave’s story? Did you hear about it at the time?
I didn’t. I told one of my best friends the idea for the script and I said, “Evidently this is a real story.” He was like, “Dude, I know that story; I saw the clip of them on the Today Show, it was hilarious.” He’s in the demo, so I think we’ve got one fan. It’ll gross at least $10. What was so cool about this movie was that it says, at the beginning, “Based on a true story.” People are for sure going to think we’re lying. People will be saying, “This is illegal! We’ve gotta sue! The movie people are lying to us.”
They say that you got an audience at a stand-up gig to chant “Mike and Dave” into a camera because you wanted this job so badly.
Yeah, I did this show on tour last year, when they were deciding who to cast. They were going to come back with a decision Monday. I was in Washington, D.C. with this awesome crowd that had braved a blizzard to come out – 2000 people. At the end of the show, I was like, “Guys, there’s this movie I really want, but they don’t think I have enough fans, and enough people don’t know me. Can you please chant, ‘Mike &Dave’ for me?” They were all so cool and they all chanted. My buddy Kyle, who I mentioned before, he went on the road with me as my assistant and he taped it with an iPhone, and I’m so proud of his DP work.
Surely you’re going to let him see the movie for free after all that effort.
No, he can pay. Every dollar counts. I’m buying 2,500 tickets. Until I’m broke.
What kind of guy is Mike? How much of him is based on the real guy?
I’m not going to say they’re similar, because I played him pretty dumb. I think the real world would be pretty offended by that. We took the story that they told, and not necessarily the characters. These guys are basically just fun-loving party guys. Hanging out with them, they’re not really trying to offend anyone. They’re not mean drunks; they’re just fun party guys. That’s how Zac and I tried to play them. With Mike especially, we flipped the roles, because I’m a couple of years older than Zac. In real life it’s the other way around. I thought the dynamic of playing Mike and having Zac Efron as your younger brother, what that would be like. He’s a little bit smarter and obviously a moderate amount better looking… I mean, a moderate amount. I’m not going to say a whole lot. Having him be this human Zeus of a man, and to have that be your little brother – the insecurities that come with that must be quite interesting. Everything must have come a little easier for him. I tried to bring a lot of that into the character of Mike. I’m not sure the real Mike and Dave have that same dynamic.
Did you know Zac at all before you did the movie?
We’ve become really good friends through this. A lot of times you shoot something and you’re with someone for a month or two, and you become friendly with them, but then you get back to LA and your regular life and you drift apart. I think Zac and I are going to be cool, weird old people that are like, “Come on over and let’s play Bridge.” That’s what old people do, right?
If anything he’ll look even more Zeus-like with white hair and a beard.
Yeah, he’s going to age great. Son of a bitch. But yeah, we knew each other. I did a little cameo on Bad Neighbours, because Seth is producing a movie that I wrote. And then they did a promo on Workaholics that was sort of a cross-promotion for their movie. We became buddies and then when this role came around, I really wanted to do the job to work with him, and I think Zac was in my corner for it, which always helps. And he’s just like that too: I thought I cornered the market on cleverness and comedy, even if I didn’t have the movie-star good looks. But it turns out I’m a dummy compared to this guy. He’s a genius. I’m so glad he made the turn into comedy, because he’s exactly what comedy needed. He’s filling a role that hasn’t been filled for such a long time and he’s so natural at doing it. He plays the perfect kind of straight man, but he can also get really goofy. He’s really good in the moment, and he can commit super hard to a character in a scene. He’s a legit actor. The rest of us are playing pretend, and he takes it seriously and he’s better at it.
There’s no delicate way to ask this question: was part of your desire to do the role based at all on the fact that it shot in Hawaii?
Oh yeah, 100%. It would have been a hard pass on the movie if it had shot in Northern Ireland in the rain. Everybody was super jealous of me. It was the best thing just to say. “Yeah, I’m going to Hawaii all summer to shoot this movie.” If 10-year- old Adam could have heard me say that as an adult, he’d have freaked out. What was great about it was that I think it would have been harder to shoot a movie like this is if it hadn’t been so fun at the same time. And if we were shooting something dramatic and real, and there were kids off-camera doing cannonballs into the pool, and people running past in bikinis sipping pineapple cocktails, it would have been a lot harder to do. It was just so much fun to shoot, and Hawaii really gave it a laid-back, relaxed feel on set. It was a big Fox movie, and there was a lot of money at play, and a few big stunts and pyrotechnics, but it still really felt like we had all the time in the world and we were on Island Time, as they say.
Does being on location help when you’re doing a film that’s so much about the relationships between these characters?
I totally think it does. I only come from the world of truly knowing your co-stars. My show, Workaholics… we were best friends for seven years before we got our show. Maybe it’s just testament to what a shitty actor I am that I really need to know these people. Like, I can’t make pretend. It’ll fall apart if I get a big movie someday with Sean Penn and I’m going, “Sean, we’ve gotta hang out for a few weeks before we start shooting. Let’s go to Cabo, me and you.” But especially for this movie, being away in Hawaii – and we went a few weeks early for rehearsals and script work with the writers and with Jake – we really got to know each other, and that’s when I think Zac and I really bonded. You don’t have anyone else to hang out with. It’s not like Zac and I have a ton of friends in Hawaii. I already knew Anna really well from doing all the Pitch Perfect movies, so it was fun having her there. And it was nice truly getting to know Aubrey, who I only knew a little bit.
Anna seems to be playing a character that is so far from her true personality.
And isn’t she great at it? I think she’s going to be the Meryl Streep of our generation. She’s the actress who you’ll look back at her career and realize she can do anything. She truly can do it all, and it’s pretty incredible. It really is a four-hander, this movie, which is really nice. We lucked out on having two of the funniest young actresses you can get in a movie. On top of them being great in the movie, they’re also really fun people to hang out with. If you’re going to be stuck in Hawaii for two and a half months, you want to be there with Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is in cinemas from the 10th August.
Check out this Red Band clip from the film: