*PLAYBOY: *From Austin Powers to Family Guy, your brand of entertainment has been heavy on snark and eye-rolling irony. Robot Chicken is all about kitschy action figures. Do you ever wonder, When am I going to grow up?
GREEN: No, because this is what I do best. Goofing on this stuff is where my value to our culture is, you know? I wouldn’t be a good longshoreman. I’m kind of useless in that area.Q2
PLAYBOY: How is it that you’ve been working steadily as an actor since the early 1980s?
GREEN: I’m like the everyman in a funny way. I’m short enough to be nonthreatening but appealing enough to kiss the girl in a movie. The guys want to have a beer with me and the girls think I’m a cute alternative to their asshole boyfriend. It’s also because I’m a student of pop culture. I get how pop culture relates to the economic atmosphere and politics and our personal lives. The shit we grow up watching and listening to has a huge impact on us and reflects what’s happening in the larger world.
PLAYBOY: So what does, say, Comic-Con tell us about our society?
GREEN: Are you kidding? Comic-Con is everything. This past year was my 15th time. On one level, it’s simply nerds in their natural habitat, which is a great way to study that culture. Nerds can commune with one another without fear of persecution. But it’s also an emblem of corporate entertainment. The major toy companies and studios roll out their products in a grassroots way. They feed ideas that the nerds consume and broadcast on a multitude of social networks. Plus you have all those cute girls running around dressed like Catwoman or the Ninja Turtles. It’s just hot.Q4
PLAYBOY: Women used to run screaming from nerds. What happened?
GREEN: It’s weird. Something shifted in our culture over the past 10 years and beautiful young women started liking nerdy stuff. It was as if someone said, “Okay, hot women. You can like all this stuff.” Which is great for guys. They get to keep doing what they love, and now it’s cool—video games, old toys our mothers made us throw away, Star Wars.
PLAYBOY: But why do women find this appealing? What’s in it for them?
GREEN: For women, getting into this stuff is almost subversive. They can apply the conventions of being a lady and still play a mean game of Halo. What’s nice is it plays perfectly into fully formed male fantasies, whether it’s about Baroness from G.I. Joe or Lara Croft. When you see a real girl dressed up as one of those characters, it’s sort of the actualization of all those feelings you’ve had since you were 10 years old. But shit, Family Guy and Robot Chicken are both pretty nerd friendly and get some hilariously attractive women fans—not the least of whom is my wife.
*PLAYBOY: *How did you meet her?
GREEN: Funny enough, we met at a comic-book store in Los Angeles about three years ago. We’re ridiculously compatible. She has a toy collection that rivals mine in size. She loves Final Fantasy and Sailor Moon and DC Heroes and all that stuff. The first time she came over to my house she said, “No way! I have those Empire Strikes Back figures too! Do you mind if I pose them?Q7
PLAYBOY: Do you ever dress up and play dirty superhero?
*GREEN: *We don’t need any of that. We’re not like “All right, honey, tonight you’re the schoolteacher and I’m a Transformer.” But we’ll put on costumes to go to parties and stuff. Of course when she puts on a costume, she usually likes to wear heels. She’s normally two inches taller than I am, and with heels she’s quite a bit taller. But it’s fine.
*PLAYBOY: *Is there any advantage to being short?
GREEN: I love people’s reactions sometimes. When we go out somewhere and my wife looks great, I like to think everybody’s saying, “Hey, how come she’s fucking that guy?” But I’ve been short all my life, so it is what it is, and I don’t have an issue with it. The only thing it determines is what parts I can play. I’m not going to be the intimidating asshole cop who shakes down the entire precinct.Q9
PLAYBOY: Is there some serious dramatic role you secretly want to play?
GREEN: Let me be specific about that. The way I pick parts is never about “Oh man, I’d really love to do this.” I just get excited about a particular story or character or concept that pops up or comes to me. But I don’t have a plan. The most exciting thing about what’s available to artists now is that the options are limitless and you’ve never been more in control of your destiny. You can have an idea and make something with your own money and distribute it across any platform. You have the same ability to get views as a major studio with hundreds of millions of dollars behind it. You can be viral in an hour, international in a day. If you’re really good or make something really smart or funny—whether it’s animation, TV or film—it will get seen, and nobody can stop you.
PLAYBOY: When is the Robot Chicken 3-D movie coming out?
*GREEN: *If we ever make a Robot Chicken movie, we won’t make it in 3-D. We’ll make it in glorious 2-D because that’s what fits the show. I think part of what people like about Robot Chicken is that even though it is highly complicated and professionally produced, it looks a little homemade.Q11
*PLAYBOY: *You’re working with Lucasfilm on a top secret comedy project set in the Star Wars universe. What can you say about it?
GREEN: Nothing really, because it keeps changing. What I can talk about is working with George. People don’t realize he’s a very normal guy. He’s taken a lot of beatings because people don’t understand him as a personality. He’s shy, though, and on top of that, imagine what it’s like to be George Lucas. Every day for the past 30 years every male on the planet who meets George just gets glitched, bugged out. I did. I was like, “Duh,” when I first met him. I made him sign my laminate. But now I just go, “Hey, George, good to see you.” And he makes fun of me. He knows I love the toys, so he’ll give me shit about that. I just say, “Man, that’s money in your pocket. Don’t give me shit about buying your toys!Q12
*PLAYBOY: *Do you think you like toys so much because you never got to have a childhood? After all, you were nine when you made The Hotel New Hampshire, which co-starred Nastassja Kinski as a sexy lesbian in a bear suit.
GREEN: That’s an interesting theory. But no, I had good relationships with my parents. Nobody was chaining me to a chair or forcing me to tap-dance when I really wanted to go to the school prom. I was like normal kids. I spent most of my childhood being alienated and getting beat up and being persecuted for things I thought were important.Q13
PLAYBOY: What did you think was important?
GREEN: Liking Spider-Man and watching movies and wanting to sing and act. I always found adult relationships more satisfying than the goofy social microcosms of school. One of the benefits of working as a kid is that you quickly see beyond high school. I said, “I ain’t fucking wasting my time here.Q14
PLAYBOY: Was it hard going through puberty with hot co-stars?
GREEN: That’s the thing. From a young age I was allowed to get close to attractive women. I started dating when I was young. I’ve studied the species and our mating habits and all that. I didn’t have the same kind of peeking-into-the-shower desire many teenagers have. By the time I was on the set of Austin Powers, interacting with the fembots, I was already calm enough as a man not to ogle them or run to my trailer to take care of business.
PLAYBOY: How did you avoid the coke-snorting, 7-Eleven-robbing plight of other child stars?
GREEN: I was always kind of scientific about the whole world of partying and stuff. I remember going to Hollywood parties and seeing the effects drugs had on people. I was probably 12 or 13 when I saw cocaine for the first time. People were smoking all kinds of pipes and one-hit cigarettes and joints. For a long time I’d just watch and observe. And I’d also read scientific studies of LSD and its effects.Q16
PLAYBOY: What about a time when you weren’t so controlled with controlled substances?
GREEN: I had a huge eye-opening experience on LSD when I was 17. I realized how much I had become self-consumed, how much attention I was paying to my own details and not enough to the world or people around me. It was like, Oh my gosh, there are worlds upon worlds directly before my eyes and all I’ve got to do is interact. I would never do acid again, but I’m actually glad I did it when I did.
PLAYBOY: What about now? Your comedy is definitely stoner friendly.
*GREEN: *Oh man, I meet a lot of people who want to get high with me. Every time I get approached by people they’re like, “Yo, bro, let’s hit this thing.” I’m like, “That’s just not what’s happening, man.” People try to give me pot or paraphernalia. I tell them, “You’ve got to think about this. We’re strangers, you’re handing me a controlled substance, and I don’t know shit about you. Is there anthrax in this? Because I’m not going to party down with you and your fucking anthrax."
PLAYBOY: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
*GREEN: *Travel. That’s how I spend my money. A buddy of mine and I took a trip from Africa to Micronesia. It was awesome. Thailand, Palau. I don’t buy watches or jewelry, but I’ll spend a shitload on a trip to Dubai.
*PLAYBOY: *Did people recognize you?
GREEN: Shit, yeah. Dubai was crazy. I’m weird famous in Dubai because there’s so much Western business there and the people are adopting Western culture. Everywhere I went, I got tagged. I passed by this straight-up sheik with the full getup. He walked past me and went “Hey” with the little head nod. I was like, “No shit. All right, man. Good to know The Italian Job and Austin Powers made it this far.” We’re living in crazy times.Q20
*PLAYBOY: *Finally, share with us your most awkward celebrity run-in.
GREEN: I was invited to Julia Roberts’s birthday at [producer] Jerry Weintraub’s house when they were making Ocean’s Eleven. I brought my buddy Dan. I said, “We’ll probably be the only guys at this party who aren’t above the title. I’m just putting that out there.” And it wasn’t just any cast; it was the fucking cast of Ocean’s Eleven. We were both freaking out, so I said, “Let’s just pretend we’re going to my friend Phil’s birthday.” As we drive up, Dan says, “I hope Phil likes our present. I hope Phil has good cake.” Jennifer Aniston pulls in right behind us and Dan goes, “Oh look, there’s Phil Aniston.” Anyway, we started laughing and felt comfortable. Next thing I know George Clooney’s talking to us and we’re like, Oh yeah, we’re the shit!