Photo: Flickr/cleftclips (CC BY 2.0).
PLAYBOY: Your new movie Due Date is about a pair of strangers on a road trip to Los Angeles. Did you have any real-life experiences to draw on?
GALIFIANAKIS: I’ve traveled back and forth from New York to California a few times. When I first moved out to California, I packed up a van with all three of my possessions—a globe, a mattress and a poster of Gorbachev—and then, along with my friends Lisa and Bobby, drove the 2,700-plus-mile trip through the land of plenty, heading toward the land of milk and honey. I also used to hitchhike in college with a sign that read i don’t have a gun. People really seemed to like the sign, and I got picked up often.
PLAYBOY: Your character in Due Date is a deluded, self-involved would-be actor. Is that pretty much the truth about most actors?
GALIFIANAKIS: Not really. I mean, it’s a business in which you are the product, so self-involvement comes with the territory. There are so many deluded people in the acting world. It’s like they’re hoping a limo will pull up next to them at a corner, roll down its window and some silhouette of a voice will say, "Hop in, kid. You’re perfect." That’s the mentality of everybody, even all those piece-of-shit reality-show contestants.
PLAYBOY: You originally wanted to be an actor before deciding on a career in stand-up comedy instead. What changed your mind?
GALIFIANAKIS: I never found an acting class in New York City that satisfied me. I was always rolling my eyes in class because of the gravity of most of the students. I met a person in a bar who told me I should try stand-up. My first show was in the back of a hamburger joint. As soon as I stepped off the stage, I knew that would be my path.
PLAYBOY: Due Date features a soon-to-be-infamous scene in which you and a pet dog named Sonny masturbate together. Does this count as your first official cinematic sex scene?
GALIFIANAKIS: I would think so. To be honest, I am too much of a snob to think I would like to see that in a movie. I dislike any sex scene in movies. But this is a first for me, so I’m eager to see how people react. Is it high cinema? No. Would Lassie have done it? No. But the director, Todd Phillips, likes to push the envelope.
PLAYBOY: What about the old acting rule that you should never work with kids or animals because they’ll upstage you?
GALIFIANAKIS: I had many discussions with Sonny about this very subject. He’s a French bulldog, so his English is not that great, but we managed to strike a balance about the tone we wanted to pull off together.
PLAYBOY: You once claimed that you’ve gotten more successful as you’ve gained weight. Do you really think there’s a connection?
GALIFIANAKIS: No, I was just trying to be clever. I miss being lighter. I want to get back to that. I can hardly text because of my fat fingers.
PLAYBOY: How many pounds do you have to pack on before you win an Oscar?
GALIFIANAKIS: Me personally? Two.
PLAYBOY: Your beard has become part of your comic persona. What inspired you to grow it in the first place?
GALIFIANAKIS: I have a birthmark in the shape of a question mark. No, I’m just not that much of a groomer. I bathe often, but as far as mirror time…I just don’t like the mirror. I try to cut the old lady off about once a year. People make such a big deal about my beard, and I find it so odd.
PLAYBOY: Your stand-up persona has a very short temper. You’ve been known to berate your audience, attacking them for mild heckling or just not paying attention. Is that staged, or do you really have a short fuse?
GALIFIANAKIS: I have a healthy disdain for people who are rude. I was brought up with manners, and if you are not respectful to those around you, then you deserve to be embarrassed in front of a thousand onlookers. I don’t have a short fuse, but I think it’s funny to get upset quickly, and I have the freedom to do that at my shows. But it has to be organic.
PLAYBOY: Until recently, you made frequent jokes about how unrecognizable you are. Now with a few hits under your belt, do you enjoy being recognized?
GALIFIANAKIS: I don’t like it at all. I’m not good with it. The other day I was at this fancy Indian restaurant in Manhattan, and these kids were secretly taking my photo with their camera phones. I flipped them off, and then they got really gun-shy and scared. I felt bad about that. I was just trying to be funny, but I ended up hurting their feelings. I went up to them and apologized.