Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) plays political fixer Tim Wattley in The Campaign, starring alongside Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. McDermott tells IBTimes UK about his early comedy stylings, revealing that he is living the fantasy and discussing his "inner enforcer".
IBTimes: Comedy is a bit of a change of pace for you. Was that fun?
Dylan McDermott: It was amazing. Nobody thinks of me as very funny, but I did start in stand-up in New York and played the clubs for a while. I had my own little show at the Bitter End on Bleaker Street. It's nice to come back because I was in drama for I don't know how many years. I hosted Saturday Night Live with Will Ferrell and he remembered me from that. He asked me to do the table read for Step Brothers and I was offered the part, but I couldn't do it. Then, finally, The Campaign. So, I'm very pleased to be back.
IBT: Did you find the live comedy of Saturday Night Live a challenge?
DM: No, I loved it. I'm sure everybody says this but that's one of the great experiences in my career, hosting that show. You feel so alive and it's in the moment. Those guys on the show are incredible. I had the best time.
IBT: Your character in The Campaign is the enforcer. Did you model your campaign manager after anyone in particular?
DM: I did take a little bit of Karl Rove, but I really just found that guy inside me somewhere. He just came out. So it was more my imagination.
IBT: Were you surprised by that, being able to tap into that sort of pitbull characteristic?
DM: No. I have that inside me. I don't live my life that way. But there's probably that guy somewhere inside me or I wouldn't be able to play him. As an actor I daydream and imagine what the guy does, what he eats, what kind of underwear he wears, where he hangs out, where he grew up, what clothes he wears and what his relationship with women is like. I just fantasise and then all of a sudden he comes.
IBT: Are politicians easy targets these days?
DM: They should be, and they are, because they do a lot of stupid stuff. You'd think they'd know better to stay out of politics.
IBT: What was the collaboration between Will and Zach Galifianakis like?
DM: They are both comic geniuses – they're really incredible. Just being around them for five minutes, you realise their wit and intelligence. They're the top two right now if you ask me. And Jay Roach is a master director. I'm just treading water, trying to keep up with them most of the time.
IBT: In an election year, was there any inclination to be more partisan on this shoot?
DM: I don't think so. I think we're fair, in terms of the left and the right. I don't think it's a political film, per se. It's really a straight-up comedy. There is a political backdrop to it but it's really just about the humour of these two guys.
IBT: Your character obviously has to do a lot of damage control. Is that an important skill for any campaign manager?
DM: Yeah. It's a tough job, I'm sure, to go in there and try to clean up somebody else's mess and reconfigure it and do the whole spin doctor thing. I find it is fascinating, actually. It can be done, and it is done every day. So it's pretty exciting to play that. I look at my character as an assassin. He comes in and just gets it done at any cost. He's an enforcer.
IBT: What are the most outlandish campaign tactics or political dirty tricks that you've seen?
DM: The other day Jay was talking about a commercial with a guy dressed as a sheep. He was crawling around on all fours and he had demon red eyes. That was the commercial. You just can't believe that this stuff exists. These negative campaigns that people run when they're up against one another are just phenomenal.
IBT: What's up next for you? More comedy?
DM: I'm doing a movie right now called Olympus Has Fallen, with Antoine Fuqua, Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. It's a drama about the White House being over taken by terrorists. I'd like to do it all. I don't limit myself to drama or comedy. Whatever role interests me, that's what I go by.
The Campaign is released on 21 January 2013 and is available on DVD and Blu-ray