Tucker and Dale vs Evil completely turns around the horror template of kids going into the woods where terrible things happen in a clever and zany way.
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play Tucker and Dale, good friends who only want to enjoy their vacation at their dilapidated mountain house. But they are rudely interrupted by a bunch of obnoxious college kids who mistake them for murderous backwoods hillbillies. When one of the students gets accidently killed, the others believe Tucker and Dale are responsible, and as the misunderstandings grow, so does the body count.
It’s amazing that you guys didn’t know each other at all before doing this movie. Did things just click, or did you rehearse a lot?
Tyler: None of the above. We didn’t know each other. We had one table read. Alan showed up two days before we started shooting the movie.
I say that like he sauntered in, but we had another actor, initially, who backed out and, in the process, left (writer/director) Eli Craig hanging, and Alan came in and saved the day.
Alan: I replaced Christian Bale.
Tyler: His name is Bale for a reason! No. Alan just came in and we met each other and hit it off right away. Calgary was a good breeding ground for getting into some mischief, at the time. There’s a stampede and we were staying next to a casino.
We got to bond the way that friends would, naturally, as well as filming the movie while we were doing so.
What was it about your characters that attracted you to this project?
Tyler: For me, it was the idea that I could strip away a lot of my usual tricks, like being the snarky, know-it-all best friend.
Eli [Craig] trusted me to really simplify what I do normally and just be a sweet, dumb animal, and I really liked the idea of doing that, and leading with your heart and being confused all the time and being overtly sweet.
I thought, “Well, it’s cool that somebody even sees that in me, let alone wants me to do it as the lead of this movie,” which hadn’t happened to me yet either. That was pretty appealing.
Alan: Just the comedy of it seemed like a lot of fun to do, with the physical aspect of some of the stuff. Working with the wood chipper and trying to wrench something out of the gears of a death machine is a fun bit to play, while you’re getting sprayed in the face with blood. I like farces a lot.
Do you guys have a favorite moment in the movie?
Tyler: I have a bunch of favorite moments, and they’re almost all Alan. I think my favorite line and moment of his, which was an ad-lib on his part, is when he says, ‘I’ll provide the finger sandwiches,’ after his finger is cut off. Alan just said that and we were like, ‘Oh, my god!’
I just think that’s a real indication of his brilliance. It’s always about tying things in for him. It’s never superfluous humor. It’s always something that makes sense in the story.
Alan: The one line that really says what this movie is about is, ‘I should have known, if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead.’ That really encapsulates the message of the movie.
Tyler: That’s the crux of the whole thing. That’s the way the world works.
When you first read this script, what was your initial reaction?
Tyler: There’s that class-ism thing in there of, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ The reaction that you have when you see the movie with a crowd is almost exactly how I felt when I read it. I was like, “Yeah! Somebody finally articulated that and did that.”
I think everyone has that moment where they’re like, ‘Why hasn’t anybody done this? How could this one not have been already done, a dozen times?’
Just the excitement of being able to help bring that to life was great. My reaction was very strong.
Alan: I had pretty much the same reaction. I kept expecting it to disappoint me, when I read it. When the first kid dies, I got really excited. I was like, ‘Wow, the stakes are going to be really high in this.’
I saw what he was going for and was like, ‘Now kids are gonna die!’ He didn’t pull any punches, but I was like, ‘He can’t sustain this. He can’t sustain the misunderstanding long enough.’ But, every time he painted himself into a corner, he painted himself out. It just kept going that way until it was done, and I was very excited about it.
What’s your favorite death?
Tyler: The wood chipper. I do love the bee incident, when he impales himself. It’s not so much the death, but the build-up to that one.
Alan:There’s so many. I like the one where Tyler is in the crapper hole and that kid is coming slowly down at you. That kills me because the suspense is growing.
Is it fun to work with all the blood and gore?
Tyler: You’re covered in blood from dawn to dusk. You get in the chair in the morning and they cover you in blood, and that dries and sticks to your clothes. My beard would get caught on my overalls, it was that long. I would go sit down for awhile, and then get up and try to raise my head, but my beard would be stuck to my chest.
It just pulls out all the most sensitive hairs. It knows exactly which ones hurt the most. That sucked.
Would you like to revisit these characters for a sequel?
Tyler: I would love to play this character again, especially because I feel like Dale has learned something. Well, we both have, by the end of the movie, but Dale has got a little kernel of confidence now that could grow into something funny.
Alan: And, Tucker has a new finger.
Tyler: There could be something about that finger. Maybe there’s some superpower in that finger, or some evil incarnate. That’s funny.