By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
There are lots of big name stars in Death at a Funeral but James Marsden is getting all the attention. It’s kind of hard to avoid when he gets naked. If you’ve seen the British version, you know that he trips out on acid his girlfriend finds in a Valium bottle.
Marsden Gets Doped at Death at a Funeral
“I’ve always said, nudity’s not a problem for me but it must be in a comedy,” Marsden said. “I don't know, there’s something uncomfortable about asking for the audience, to be sincere to the audience or have to take it really seriously and get naked. If it’s for a joke, I’ll do it I guess.”
Marsden hadn’t seen Alan Tudyk’s nude performance in the original when he agreed to do the American version. “I read the script on a flight from New York to LA and I didn’t know that there had been a British film already made so I just thought it was this great original kind of chamber piece about all the stuff that takes place at this funeral. I just thought the character was rich and I just kept reminding myself of what this guy has to endure unbeknownst to him and involuntarily. It was just always funny to me so I didn’t think twice about taking it off.”
Death at a Funeral
The American version will stand out because many of Marsden’s antics were original to this version. “I had to apologize to Zoe [Saldana] before every take actually because I said, ‘Zoe, I’m sorry but will you just indulge me? I’m going to try something.’ And she said, ‘Stop it, stop it, stop it. You’re on acid. Do your thing.’ The script was always really, really strong and we always went in and did what was scripted because it was great. It was flawless but I thank Neil for this but he afforded me a certain amount of creative license to have this balance of going in prepared but also allowing yourself to remain relatively obtuse or open to finding things throughout the day. So it was a great environment to go in. I was definitely allowed to find things that maybe weren’t necessarily always there but you had to be open to that to be out there in space like I was.”
One addition he can’t take credit for is singing “Amazing Grace.” “That was from Chris [Rock], I think. I thought it was funnier if it really was a sincere offering of condolences to Loretta [Devine]. I remember Zoe and Columbus [Short] sitting there going, ‘You’ve got a voice, man. You’ve got to go for it.’ I’m like, ‘I don't know if it’s funnier if he can sing. Maybe it’s better if he doesn’t sing well.’ ‘No, no, no. Sing as gospel as you can. Just go for it.’ That was like all right, all right. That on the last take became like inspired.”
Death at a Funeral opens to theaters on April 16th.