Matthew Broderick continues to display a sense of anarchic comedy in the new comedy, Deck the Halls. Here he plays Steve, a suburban dad and Christmas enthusiast, who leads a well-ordered, well-planned, and well-organized life. His new neighbor, Buddy (Danny DeVito), is Steve’s polar opposite: a big personality with big dreams, which have yet to materialize.
But Buddy’s latest dream – to create the biggest holiday light display in the world, visible from outer space – is turning Steve’s disciplined world into a chaotic nightmare. As Buddy’s home explodes with festive lights of incredible design, increasing complexity, and exponentially-growing wattage, Steve becomes a man on a mission. At any cost, he will thwart Buddy – or top him. Paul Fischer spoke to Broderick in Los Angeles.
Question: Are you as obsessive as your character?
Broderick: No, I’m really not. It was lovely working with Danny, all kidding aside. He’s so charming and interesting and hilariously funny, and I found him just easy, easy, easy to work with.
Question: And what was it like to play a guy like this?
Broderick: Well, it was fun. You know, I had a lot of physical stuff, which is really enjoyable for me, and it wasn’t like a part I wanted to work too hard on. Which was nice. You know, it’s kind of for children — well, it’s for anybody really, but I don’t think you want to overwork it. so it was nice to do a job right, just try to sort of relax and jump in.
Question: Does comedy come easier than drama?
Broderick: Maybe. I don’t know whether it’s easier exactly. It’s something I have a felling I — I guess the short answer is yes, it comes easily to me.
Question: What kind of Christmas film is this because there are so many?
Broderick: Actually, there aren’t that many and it’s a — you know, I think it has a very nice feeling to it. it has a nice sentiment at the end — a very simple message at the end that it doesn’t — you know — that it’s not about lights and things so much, that there is a feeling to the (good?) Christmas that we like — there’s a goodwill — I don’t know how to explain it but there’s a Christmas spirit I guess that hopefully comes at the end. After all this working — and how do you get this feeling? Steve’s very controlled method of getting there or Danny’s over-the-top lighting everything? In the end it’s more of an internal thing about the family’s coming together.
There’s a nice, nice feeling to it, and then there’s also a lot of laughs, and I think laughter is very nice always and particularly at Christmas cause it can be — it’s a stressful time, there’s a lot of stress any time you’re around your whole family.
Question: Do you spend a lot of time with them? You guys both have pretty big families.
Broderick: Yeah, definitely. Sometimes we do like Thanksgiving at one and Christmas at the other. That’s an eternal problem with married people —
Question: How much decorating can you do in New York?
Broderick: Thank god, not too much. You can do inside your house. You can decorate your tree, and you can hang lights on your window, or when I was a kid, on your fire escape. (laughter) you could go out in the park probably and do something if you wanted.
Question: Are your celebrations ridiculously huge?
Broderick: No, they’re very average. I should make a disclosure. I’m half Jewish, though. I have half a holiday. No, but I’ve always celebrated Christmas. For some people, in America I guess, mostly, it’s wonderful if it’s a religious holiday but it’s also more — our winter family holiday.
Question: How Christmasy did you find under your dome in Vancouver with the artificial snow and the hottest summer in 10 years?
Broderick: Yeah (laughs), that sums it up. It wasn’t very Christmasy, but that’s the magic thing movies can do, you know. What feels hot and sticky and uncomfortable can look like a little town in Massachusetts.
And it’s fun to watch how to do it, you know. To see them pump all that snow out and light those houses and build that huge tent that covered two houses so that we could shoot in the daytime.
It would have been a month and a half of night, and the months in Vancouver are also very short in the summer, which has to do with the latitude — I’ll explain that to you after —
Question: How important is it for you to return to the theatre?
Broderick: I don’t know. I’m going to do my friend Kenny Lonergan’s new play that will be — it’s supposed to be now, but it’s been put off until the fall, so we’ll be doing that in the fall.
Question: Is your son going to like Bee Movie when it comes out?
Broderick: I think he might. It seems that he would. It’s pretty sophisticated.
Question: How does one do the voice of a bee? bees go buzz buzz.
Broderick: I know. When I played the adult Simba in The Lion King, I just didn’t go roar, roar. It’s a conceit that these little animals can talk . . . so I play Jerry Seinfeld’s nervous best friend. And I keep saying — don’t take so many chances . . . It’s good, it’s really fun to make.
Question: Do you have any regrets?
Broderick: I have regrets sometimes, but I don’t think they’re useful. I just move on. You just have to keep playing your hand as best you can. So there’s no point in saying — what if I had —
Question: Every movie they make about rebellious adolescents, they say are not as good as Ferris Bueller. Is there a new legion of fans?
Broderick: There are definitely new fans for it all the time, as far as I can tell. It’s still on TV a lot, and little kids tell me that they love it all the time.