There are actors who respond well to scripts with primate-on-man lovemaking and those who respond poorly to such things. Any doubt as to which category Craig Bierko fits in will probably be erased by five minutes into the pilot for the new FOX comedy Unhitched.
"What I do is I gather my staff together and I say, ‘You know what we’re doing this year? We’re getting me raped by a money, and you need to go out now and find me some projects,’" Bierko jokes. "And I unclench my teeth, take the cigar out, put it out on the desk — I don’t even use the ashtray — and I say ‘Go!’ And then within 15 minutes we had this project now put together."
But, um, seriously?
"Well, you know, when I was reading the script I just thought ‘How am I going to know I’m on the Planet Farrelly,’" Bierko says, referring to the co-creators of Unhitched, the brothers behind There’s Something About Mary. "And then on page three, I went ‘Oh. That’s where they’re planting the flag. Right in my a***. And they planted the flag of the Planet Farrelly and they claimed it."
He continues, "And the one thing I knew about, because I’m a fan of their stuff, is that they — as outrageous as they can get — they’re very much in control of the tone of their pieces. It’s what separates them from people who don’t do what they do as well, the copycats. Their scripts are all extremely well-constructed and maintain a very specific tone and there’s also a lot of heart, a lot of warmth in all their stuff. So I got that from the script shortly after the rape."
In Unhitched, Bierko plays Gator, a man reentering the dating world after a long marriage to his college sweetheart. Conveniently his three best buddies are also being forced back into the romantic marketplace.
Also part of the group is Rashida Jones’ Kate, a seemingly perfect woman who keeps dating an unfortunate string of inadequate men.
"I would absolutely not say, I mean, I don’t think I’m sane," Jones insists of her character. "I’m definitely not sane when it comes to dating. I’m really naive and an unfortunate amount of idealistic when it comes to being romantic with guys. But I am a woman and for that reason, I think I probably do a little better with my dating demise than the guys. I’m used to having guys around. I have a group of guy friends and I love it, it’s great. It’s a nice compliment to be accepted as one of the guys, I think."
Unhitched premieres on FOX this Sunday (March 2) night.
Some other highlights from Bierko and Jones’ chat with the press:
Jones on her worst dating experience: You know, luckily I’ve been spared, for the most part, but I would say probably my most uncomfortable experience was I went on a date with a guy and he tried to feed me lobster. It was just corny. [Bierko interjects "You mean he tried to actually feed it to you?"] Yes, he took his fork, dipped into his own lobster and then reached across the table and tried to feed me.
Bierko on his character’s unusual name: I love the fact that his name is Gator, but my connection to it was, I just remember when there was a Burt Reynolds movie named Gator and when every guy in America wanted to be Burt Reynolds and he was just racing around in a speedboat in the swamps of Florida. And I thought ‘Cool, I get to be Gator.’ That was literally as much thought as I put into that.
Jones on her interactions with Peter and Bobby Farrelly: I will say, the first time I met Peter ever, I think even before I got the part, his first gesture was to come hug me, which I thought was so sweet until I realized he was just trying to unhook my bra… He does that every time. He does it every single time I see him. But he did start with the first time I ever met him, so at least he’s consistent. [Bierko adds "That’s why I wear a sports bra"]
Bierko’s own Farrelly memory: My favorite story is when we were shooting the pilot and we were doing the first big group scene and essentially I think everybody knew the group scene is what’s going to sell the pilot or not sell it, how is everybody’s chemistry together. And we were good, but we weren’t clicking, we hadn’t found the right, it just wasn’t clicking yet. So Peter came in with a rubber band and he made us all flick each other on the earlobe with a rubber band. And the anticipation and the genuine pain, because we really had to do it, got us out of our heads and got us into this goofy mood. And we kind of found what we are when we’re all together anyway, which is we love being with each other, we love hanging out, we laugh a lot and we just put that on film.