Dan Fogler has starred in a variety of film, TV, and stage roles throughout his career (think NBC’s Hannibal, Balls of Fury, Fanboys, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), but playing the title character in his new film, Don Peyote, may be the one that’s nearest his heart.
In Peyote, Fogler plays Warren Allman, an unemployed stoner who finally finds a purpose in life after an unpleasant encounter with a homeless man preaching the end is near. Throughout the film, you’ll see the likes of Josh Duhamel, Jay Baruchel, Topher Grace, and Anne Hathaway, all playing some pretty unique (and strange) parts.
We talked to Dan about writing, directing, and starring in the film, sporting an epic beard, and making it big in Hollywood when you don’t have a mainstream look.
I saw the movie last night, and it was crazy! Where did the idea for it come from?
The idea came from how I was feeling just before 2012. I was turning 33, and I was about to get married – I just had all these questions about the future, and I wanted answers. From what I was finding on the internet, some people thought it was the end of the world, and some people thought it was a [going to be a] shift in consciousness. I thought “what the hell does that mean?” (laughs) So then I thought to myself – the best way to get all these answers is to go on an adventure and create an docu-mockumentary about it. It started out where I was this character Warren Allman, who was collecting all these interviews about what people thought was coming.
I always wanted to make this prophet journey movie, where he bumps into the guy with the end is near sign, and starts to go off the deep end, and he finally becomes the guy with the end is near sign. That was always the idea at the beginning, but during the course of that, scenes were written, scenes were thrown away, we were always improvising. We improvised characters, and I said yes to everything. That’s how the movie got made.
One of the really cool things about this movie is that you can’t really tell where it’s heading until you get closer to the end. Some people are going to look at it and think this is a guy dealing with a descent into madness, and others will think he’s finding the path to enlightenment. Did you want it to lean one way or another?
The way we’ve treated mental illness – enlightened people out there who were prophets who claimed a connection to a higher source – that was viewed as mental illness. Maybe there are more people like this who were supposed to come out, but instead they’re dying somewhere in some asylum, hopped up on some drug instead of helping us take another step in our evolution.
Another title for this is Don Peyote and the Prophets of Bellevue. How many of those guys in there are trying to give us the next amazing message to help us on our way? It just says something about our society.
Did you get to keep the epic beard you were wearing toward the end of the film?
That beard was crazy man! This movie was fraught with such hysterical low budget issues, and these synchronicities that would happen. The costume designer got sick, literally at midnight the night before. I had to go in the morning before the shoot – i’m the director, the writer, and the fucking producer (laughs). I had to go in that morning and make the costume. I was in there pouring paint on this thing – then I called in my buddy who was the blood guy on Hysterical Psycho.
So he comes in, and he brings this thing – it looks like he literally found some roadkill on the side of the road and was just taping it to my face. I think it was like 8 gnarly caveman wigs tied together. You know the part that’s right under the lip? That part was it’s own beard. (laughs)
Yeah, so you people are in for it!
Chubstr is all about style for bigger guys. It’s about being able to dress how you want and not letting people’s perception of size stop you from doing the things you want to do. I know your acceptance speech for the Tonys touched upon that. Have you had to overcome these kind of hurdles in your career in order to get where you are?
Oh yeah. Just in the acting world in general and how they pigeonhole you and categorize you. That speech was very much about me doing it to prove to myself that I could do it. I did it with my own two hands, and I did it with this face and this crazy hair. That’s what made it so special.
The last time I was skinny, I was like 9 months. (laughs) I know I’m always going to be stocky and big boned. That’s your blood, that’s your family, that’s just the way it is, you know? I exercise, I’m very physical, and I’ve got more stamina than dudes who people would consider fit. It’s all perspective.
Then, there’s a whole other category of “hair.” Like I’m incredibly hairy too. I’ve got all these things going at once – the whole machine.
The total package, right?
The total package! (laughs)
Watch Don Peyote on VOD and iTunes today and catch it in theaters on 5/16.