The aw-shucks demeanor Jason Sudeikis exudes on Saturday Night Live is not an act. Speaking by phone from L.A. to promote Hall Pass, the Farrelly brothers’ new comedy, Sudeikis, 35, seems as self-deprecating as his onscreen persona. He costars with Owen Wilson as sex-obsessed buds whose wives grant them one week off from marriage. While the Kansas City native and vet of Second City and iO strikes out with women as suburban schlub Fred, in real life the actor, until recently, dated Mad Men’s January Jones.
You’ve been married. Do you think married men are hardwired to fantasize about other women?
I haven’t done my research, but I think there’s enough evidence to support this: Men do look at other ladies, yeah.
In Hall Pass, you bust out some awesomely horrible pickup lines. What’s the worst one you’ve said?
I’ve never really used one. But I think a really bad one would be, “People tell me I look like a handsome Ted Bundy.”
What’s the film’s Ireland pickup line?
Oh, yeah, something about my dick’s “Dublin” in size.… The Farrellys gave me a legal pad–size piece of paper filled with [pickup] lines and we did them one by one. [Laughs]
Do you think a hall pass could ever be a good idea?
Just the idea of it will certainly get people talking. While it is a very funny movie, it does have a definite point of view. It is pro-love and pro-marriage. But if you really put it into practice, you’d have to be in a position where it’s maybe the step right before, like, a trial separation? [Laughs] I don’t think you do it at your six-month anniversary.
I was surprised how realistic the film is. I think most men would be paralyzed those first few days.
Oh, yeah. It was written by guys who have been married for a while; despite the fact that they are very well-known, wealthy film directors, at the end of the day, they’re guys who haven’t been single in many, many years. I think they wrote that very realistically. [Laughs] You know, not knowing where to go, overindulging because they know they can sleep in the next day.
You followed your uncle George Wendt to Second City and the Chicago improv community. Did he encourage you to go into comedy?
He was always very good at encouraging me mostly by what he did himself. Being from the Midwest, from Kansas City, but having the majority of my family in Chicago, you don’t realize [that] making a living at [acting] is a viable option. He certainly proved it, not just to me, but to other family members—specifically my own mother. He would keep my mom at bay by being, like, “Jason’s pretty good at this. If he keeps with it, he could probably do this for a living.”
Parents don’t want to see their kids disappointed. Or broke.
I think they were more concerned with me living in the basement of our house in Kansas City for the rest of my life, my business suit being merely just a tattered robe.
Most of your family still lives here?
Yeah, I have a lot of aunts and uncles that live on the South Side, in Beverly. And a few cousins that live up north. We come home every Christmas.
What do you remember most from your days living in Chicago?
What I think about is driving Lake Shore Drive a lot, coming up from the South Side to go to classes initially and then to perform shows eventually at iO and the Annoyance and Second City. And eating a lot of Potbelly’s sandwiches.
Which originated here.
I know; it’s so funny to see it just grow. Every time I go back, there’s, like, six new Potbellys somewhere. I suggested going there to friends and they rolled their eyes; they’re like, “Why do you eat that corporate sandwich?” I was like, what are you talking about? When did this become McDonald’s?
Your movie roles have been goofballs or wacky sidekicks. But if the tabloids are to be believed—and I always believe them—you do quite well with the ladies. What’s your secret?
Oh, I think [my secret] is to listen to people and keep your eyes open when they’re talking. That’s about it. Other than that, I don’t know what the hell’s going on with that stuff.
You’re likely the only man on the planet who’s kissed both Mr. and Mrs. Draper from Mad Men. Which was more memorable?
Probably Mrs. [Laughs]
Although that was some nice mustache-on-mustache action with Jon Hamm.
Thank you, yes. The mustaches were the only thing that was fake there.
Hall Pass opens Friday 25.