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The Hot Seat: Will Arnett

The Arrested Development alum is bringing the pain.

Illustration: Rob Kelly

Not to ruin your fantasies or anything, but life as the offspring of gravel-voiced comic Will Arnett and his wife, Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler, isn't inherently hilarious. "It's not what you think," says Arnett from his temporary home base in Los Angeles, where he, Poehler and son Archie live while Poehler works on P&R. "It's not two clowns in clown makeup raising a baby." We'll pretend we didn't hear that—we'd rather assume that Arnett's life is full of crazy high jinks similar to those found on the much-beloved Arrested Development, in which he played magic-obsessed narcissist Gob Bluth. He's kept plenty busy since that show's demise: In addition to memorable guest turns on 30 Rock and his wife's sitcom—plus the occasional foul-minded Funny or Die video—the erstwhile Canadian has been bringing his own brand of off-kilter comedy to movies like Semi-Pro and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. In When in Rome, out January 29, Arnett plays one of many suitors who become obsessed with Kristen Bell, but he's not creepy like that in real life. No, seriously.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews

When in Rome is a romantic comedy—about stalkers. I'm shocked it hasn't been done before.
[Laughs] It's a movie that's condoning the notion of stalkerdom, I guess.

Way to take a stand.
Yeah. As long as you make it romantic and cute, it's not bad. That's not what I'm saying, though. I guess you keep it positive?

So it's not like the first ten minutes of a CSI episode or anything.
Uh, no. But all the guys who are chasing her in the movie—it doesn't sound good—but they're all sweet. It would be a lot different if they were building shrines to her and sharpening their knives. You can't call Silence of the Lambs a romantic comedy.

Very true. I'm planning a big Canadian party for the Olympics. You're Canadian; what should I serve?
First of all, I assume you'll serve poutine. And doughnuts are huge. And there's a French-Canadian dish called tourtire, which is a kind of meat pie.

And the U.S. is the country with the obesity epidemic?
We don't do 4,500 calories per meal. You can have one doughnut, you don't need to have six! For a Canadian party, you have to have a lot of beer. Everyone, when they show up, has a two-four with them.

A what?
A 24-pack. Or a suitcase, which is a 12-pack. Six bottles on each side.

Do people drive home afterward? Or do they just pass out in the snow?
Of course they drive home! I don't condone drinking and driving, by the way.

Good to know. How do you convincingly play an American?
It's just about staying on top of my out and abouts.

You're very good at playing creepy.
[Sighs] I know.

Is that innate?
I dunno. It's kind of a bummer. I always find there's something funny about supercreepy/annoying characters. It's more fun than playing a nice character—there's nothing there.

You're the first Canadian in the world to think that nice is overrated.
Heh. I think that's just boring for me. I remember once hearing a note—a guy at a studio thought I was mean. I never thought my characters were mean, just a little misguided. A little delusion in there. On 30 Rock, Devin, he's just kind of delusional. Gob is a complete fool.

So your characters have a touch of creepy, but they're more delusional.
They're really dumb and really confident.

Well, then you definitely understand playing Americans.
That's where the magic lies.

Arrested Development fans are rabid, so you have to tell me something about the movie. You can make it up.
I'm allowed to lie? There is no finished script.

Totally lie. Is it going to be in 3-D?
No, it will be in 4-D.

What's the fourth dimension?
The other dimension is pain.

When in Rome is out Jan 29.

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