Q&A: Tucker Max brings drunken debauchery to the big screen
Misogynist. Hero. Asshole. Best-selling author. Now the 33-year-old is adding another title to his resume: filmmaker.
Opening this Friday, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is Max's first venture into feature film. Based on his book of the same title (an autobiographical collection of drunken, sexually-charged adventures), the movie follows Tucker (played by Matt Czuchry) as he manages to lie, drink and screw his way in and out of trouble during a bachelor party gone wrong while trying to find his way back into the good graces of his two best friends.
Last week, Max came through Minneapolis as a part of his 31-city premiere tour where roughly 300 fans (and two lonely anti-Tucker Max protestors) were able to catch an advanced screening of the film and meet the man himself. Afterwards, Max took a few minutes to chat with Gimme Noise about the film, his writing and embracing his narcissism.
Official trailer for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Your book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since 2006. Why decide now to finally turn it into a movie?
Tucker Max: We could have made this movie a lot sooner. Nils (referring to Nils Parker, the movie's co-screenwriter) and I had an offer a little while back to turn the book into a TV show, but we would have had to give up creative control and that wasn't going to happen. We had a major movie studio offer us $2 million for the rights, but it was the same thing; they wanted creative control and they would have fucked it all up. So we said no and waited until we could do it our way and now here we are.
Now that the movie is done, how do you decide whether or not it's successful? Is it financial success or fan acceptance that you're most interested in?
TM: There's a high correlation between success and exposure. In most cases, fan acceptance and financial success are one in the same; if it's accepted by fans, you'll make money. I don't do shit for cult success. We made this movie for the same reason that we create all of our art; because we love it. If you're an artist of any kind, whether it's a writer, filmmaker, painter or whatever, and you say that you create art for any reason other than that, then you don't understand what art is all about.
So let's say that this movie blows up and exceeds your expectations -
TM: This movie can't blow up bigger than I expect. There is no number or level of success that would make me think, "Wow, I didn't think that was possible."
OK, then let's say that this movie exceeds other people's expectations. Would you consider making another movie?
TM: Definitely. We've already got material in mind for three sequels, based on my stories and just the general direction that we see the characters in this movie moving towards.
Speaking of your stories, you have another book coming out next year with a whole new set of wild adventures from your life. As you continue to write stories and make movies, are you going to keep writing about the same subject matter and catering to the same demographic? Or do you see your stories reflecting your growth or maturity?
TM: I'm not wise enough or stupid enough to think that I can write fiction. My writing is authentic and whatever happens in my life is what I write about. This movie is based on the stuff I was doing at 23 or 24. I'm 33 now. I'm not out at the bars every weekend trying to pick up 19-year-olds anymore, because that would just be lame and stupid. Back when I was younger, I was like an unguided missile of debauchery. Now, I'm more like a smart missile.
For someone who has never heard of you or the book, what would you tell them about the movie?
TM: We wanted to prove that you can make a funny guy-movie that can be successful, which everyone knows is true by now. But what we were trying to do with the characters was show how Tucker's narcissism affects his relationships with his friends. Yeah, it's funny to watch but there's a darker side to it that almost ruins his friendships. We also wanted to make it feel realistic. The whole movie spans the course of about a week. At the end, Tucker has learned a lesson, but he hasn't really changed as a person. That's because in real life, no one has a complete transformation over the course of a week. Have you ever met anyone who completely changed their personality that quickly? No. Because it's not realistic.
What do you say to people who claim that this movie is misogynistic and exploits women?
TM: See the movie. The people who say that obviously haven't seen the movie and have no idea what it's even about. In fact, the two female leads are probably the two strongest characters in the entire movie. And if the movie is so terrible and exploits women, then why is it that there are so many women coming to see this movie on every stop on the tour, and laughing their asses off the whole time? The people who want to protest me or this movie need to go see the film before they pass judgment on it.
Based on the success you've had with the blog, the success you've had with the book and now the success you've had with this premiere tour, it's probably safe to say that this movie is going to be successful. So where do you go from here?
TM: (Laughs) Can't we fucking release this thing before I have to worry about what I'm going to do next? Don't get me wrong dude; I'm not laughing at you. It's just funny because for the past couple of years we've been killing ourselves to get this movie made, and everyone just assumes it's going to be a success. I hope you're right, man, and I'm glad that you have faith that it's going to be successful. But as for where we go from here, we need to make this thing a success first.
Video from the Minneapolis premiere screening.