Published Sep 25, 2019"I never thought about there being a world behind the scenes of this series," Lauren Lapkus says of Between Two Ferns: The Movie.
The popular and hysterical web series starring Zach Galifianakis and co-created with director Scott Aukerman has made the leap to the big (Netflix) screen, with a funny, star-studded, and ultimately whimsical road trip of a film that undercuts its cynicism with genuine affection.
Lapkus suggests that at least some of that tone might come from the generosity of the writers and cast behind this movie.
"It was really great, because we were able to improvise the film and we improvised far more than you'll ever see, and created a very in-depth world for [Zach], which was really neat to step into. It felt really real."
Lapkus herself plays Galifianakis's assistant and guest booker, Carol, who dresses a bit like she's from the '70s and is both oblivious to her boss's misanthropic, narcissistic selfishness, but also very aware that his OCD about his ferns is odd.
"I was given a small description of her, but was able to create a personality and backstory for her — and her backstory is dark," Lapkus laughs. "There's a moment where she reveals a little bit about what's going on in her life and it's really messed up. It kind of tells you a lot about her — that she can compartmentalize her life really well, and stay with Zach, and not think about what's going on."
Lapkus says the cast were given basic plot points to make sure a story was told here, but otherwise had free reign. In the film, after he momentarily kills Matthew McConaughey in an epic, complicated water leak fiasco, Between Two Ferns host Galifianakis faces the wrath of his show's Funny or Die benefactor, Will Ferrell, who promises to get him a real network talk show if he can cross the country and record ten fresh episodes. The simple road trip plot allows the characters to shine, with endearing performances by the likes of Galifianakis, Lapkus, Ryan Gaul and Jiavani Linayao, among others.
"I loved it, because the other cast members are fantastic improvisers," Lapkus explains. "And so we were able to work together and create these scenes and Scott let us go to so many different places. The takes might be 30 minutes long, where we'd do a full scene of conversation between these characters, and then it might be cut down to one minute or you'll never see it in the movie."
Aukerman has suggested that there may be life for this extra material. He is already releasing the full versions of Between Two Ferns interviews that were excerpted for the film (see the Paul Rudd episode above). On Twitter and in other interviews, he has confirmed that perhaps a sequel or series is in the works, and at least some of it could be drawn from about an hour-and-a-half's worth of scenes that didn't make it into this movie. When asked if having such scenes edited out of the final cut bums her out, Lapkus demurs.
"One positive thing about it is that I have a bad short-term memory," she says. "I forget everything right after we do it and that's part of improv — staying in the moment, but also moving past things. So there's a lot of stuff that I just forgot, but if we talk about the things we did that got cut, I'd be very sad."
As expected, the infamous Between Two Ferns interviews with celebrities provoke most of the laughs in the movie, as Galifianakis poses the most extraordinarily rude questions and gets into some trouble along the way (the Chrissy Teigen and John Legend subplot here is remarkable). For Lapkus, being on set for some of these interactions was surreal and fun.
"It was really great because they did a full 45 minutes with each person," Lapkus says. "Every day, we'd come to set and have no idea who the celebrity was going to be; they wouldn't tell us in case they pulled out, or to prevent it from leaking. Some of them were super top secret. We'd get the call sheet and there'd just be initials of the celebrity coming in and we'd try to guess who it was. It was a fun game, because there were times that we were right.
"I love Paul Rudd; I have a crush on him, so that was cool," she adds. "Keanu Reeves was an amazing one. When he showed up, I was really starstruck. That's somebody who I stayed away from, because I was afraid to be annoying, because he's just so great. He was really amazing in his interview, and read us a poem he wrote for a friend who was going through a hard time. It's so cool to see him getting this comedic moment. And John Legend was so fun, because he had more of a storyline and we got to improvise with him a bit and he was great."
Beyond Between Two Ferns, Lapkus reveals another funny new Netflix project on the horizon.
"I just shot it with David Spade," she explains. "It's called The Wrong Missy, and I'm really excited about it. It's wild. He invites the wrong Missy on his work retreat and it's me and we went on a bad blind date and I am not the person he thought he was inviting and I ruin everything for him. It's really fun."
Listen to this interview with Lauren Lapkus on the Kreative Kontrol podcast on Apple Podcasts or below: