I’m Incredibly Cheap: Richard Ayoade on The Watch and The Double

Why filming an orgy is boring and hoping his next directorial effort, The Double (starring two Jesse Eisenbergs), isn't like Jack and Jill.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


Richard Ayoade is a mellow guy, and he made some mellow deadpan jokes over the phone. In The Watch, he plays Jamarcus, the fourth member of a neighborhood watch (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill) who wind up fighting aliens in their neighborhood. The comedy includes improv, action and an orgy. Ayoade was nonplussed to talk specifics (including Jamarcus’ Asian housewife fantasy) and tease his upcoming directorial effort The Double.


CraveOnline: Did you know right away your personality would fit this group?

Richard Ayoade: No. I don’t really know what my personality is anyway. I don’t really have one.


What did you think of the name Jamarcus?

Yes, well, if I hadn’t been called Richard, I probably would’ve been named Jamarcus so it was already close to me.


Is that a real name? Have you ever met a Jamarcus?

Yeah, my brother’s called Jamarcus. I think that’s the name [screenwriter] Seth [Rogen] has picked out for his future children, regardless of whether they’re male or female.


Is that true about your brother?

No, I don’t have a brother.


So then your brother might be named Jamarcus if he existed.

Yeah, could be.


How did it feel to have a stare down with the alien like the great Alien movies?

It was good. I practiced on a lot of life forms, animals mainly.


Was it a real head and face or CGI later?

No, that was Doug Jones. He’s amazing animating those creatures.


How did it feel to get the double gun John Woo shooting in there?

Yes, it’s very hard on the thumbs. It’s not something I’m generally called upon to do in the things I’ve done.


Was Jamarcus’s Asian housewife fantasy in the script?

Oh yes, that was in the script. That wasn’t something I insisted they put there.


What was the set like in between takes of the orgy scene?

It was pretty awkward for me. I think it’s difficult because generally whenever I’m in a room there’s an enormous explosion of erotic tension. So everyone else I imagine they found it very hard to control themselves. But for me it’s just boring.


Were there some extras who got into it or was everyone really professional?

Are you asking whether they need to prosecute people?


No, no, just wondering if some extras got carried away, maybe nudists?

I think there were some nudists. I think they were at the correct level. I don’t know how you can get more into it if you’re already nude but I don’t know. Will people start taking their skin off? I don’t know. They were as into it as they could be.


How did this movie come along for you? Were you auditioning for American movies?

No. I haven’t auditioned for anything for five years or something like that. I just haven’t. I’ve only ever really been in shows of friends, so I don’t know exactly what happened. I think I’m incredibly cheap to hire. That can buy some traction. I’m as cheap as it’s possible for an actor to be legally. Yeah, that was it.


So much of the film takes place at night. How did you adjust to night shoots and keep your energy up?

I actually prefer night shoots to days. I prefer being up. It’s easier for me. I’m more of a night person. It’s hard on crews because they’re on their feet all day, but [for] me I think it’s easier.


Are you able to keep up well with the improv?

No, I’m not able to keep up well. They’re great. They’re probably the best improvisers around. So yeah, it’s very impressive and they have a great facility for that. I generally tend to stare at the ground and tried not to laugh.


What were some scenes that made you break?

A lot of the establishers. Just generally any scenes with everyone, with those other three, when it’s the whole gang.


When Vince Vaughn goes on forever about the Russian nesting dolls, did you have to bite your cheek to get through it?

Yeah, he’s good, Vince. It comes very easily to him, improvisation. He has no filter. It’s very readily accessible.


Did any of your lines make you crack up?

No, I tend not to laugh at my own delivery.


Not even the Asian housewife line?

Oh no. I never laugh, no. You always laugh at someone else. You don’t really laugh at yourself.


What can you tell us about the next film you directed, The Double?

Well, we’re just coming to the end of the shoot. I’ve got Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in it. They’re great I think.


Are there two Jesse Eisenbergs in that?

Yup, yeah. He plays his doppelganger so yeah. There’s two of him.


How did directing The Double compare to the maybe smaller scale Submarine?

Well, it’s similar. Everyone who’s in Submarine is in this as well. It’s very different to Submarine.


What about working with the visual effects that are necessary to duplicate Jesse Eisenberg?

Yeah, technology is quite advanced now so you try and capture it in, just try and film it how you would film it if there really were two people, and then just try and work out the details.


Do you benefit from the technology of Multiplicity and Jack and Jill?

I think the technology of motion control has been around for a while. It’s become more advanced. Hopefully it’s more like Adaptation than Jack and Jill.


What would you say is the tone of The Double?

Well, I haven’t edited it yet so I don’t know. We’ll find out. I mean, I think it’s quite dark, almost like a horror film.


Is there going to be more of “The IT Crowd?”

I don't know. I think they’re trying but everyone’s got so many other things, Graham [Linehan] has. Katherine [Parkinson] is about to have a baby or has just had a baby. Chris O’Dowd… I think he would like to. It’s just finding a time when everyone is free.


What was your experience directing the Pulp Fiction/My Dinner With Andre episode of “Community?”

That was great. I was a big fan of Dan Harmon. Oddly, [Andre star] Wallace Shawn is in The Double so we had met.


Was it more fun to do the Pulp Fiction side or the My Dinner with Andre side of that episode?

I liked both. I think that’s what was really nice about the episode. Louis Malle is maybe one of my favorite directors, but I love Tarantino. It was great to do both. Actually, I think Danny Pudi’s great so it was really nice being able to do those scenes with him and Joel who I’d known for a bit, and do things that were I guess smaller than you sometimes get to do.


Did you have to brush up on “Cougar Town” to understand that particular episode?

I know everything about “Cougar Town.”