Who are Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso, you ask? The two funnymen (Diamantopolous has appeared in 24 and Up All Night; Sasso used to be on MadTV and does voice acting for Family Guy) play Moe and Curly, respectively, in the Farrelly brothers’ big-screen adaptation The Three Stooges, opposite Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Larry. ScreenCrave recently spoke with Diamantopoulos and Sasso about bringing the beloved slapstick characters to life in the new film, as well as their love for the Stooges trio. Check out our interview below!
ScreenCrave: Being that I’m a) female and b) was never a huge Stooges fan (until I saw the movie, of course), can you explain why all my male friends absolutely adore The Three Stooges?
CHRIS DIAMANTOPOULOS: I’m afraid it’s one of those mysteries in life. In its purest form, I think it comes from having watched The Three Stooges with your dad. What it was that struck me, ‘cause I was a big fan as a kid, was the Stooges were real-life Looney Tunes. You go back and watch the old Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Porky Pig cartoons, it’s amazing how similar they were to the Stooges shorts. Knowing that Bugs and Daffy were hitting each other and not getting hurt, and then oh my god! These guys are doing it for real!
WILL SASSO: I’ll tell you why, because back in the prehistoric era, men were fighting saber-toothed tigers and the like, so they could bring food back to the cave. It was a simpler time. And occasionally when that would happen, Ugg Mugg would get mauled by a tiger or stomped on by a wholly mammoth and the other cavemen would just laugh because hey, shit happens. The physicality of the Stooges appeals to the males for the same reasons. It’s physical comedy and motivated comic violence, at the same time.
SC: To be fair, I’m sure not all women hate The Three Stooges…
WS: Look, if the The Three Stooges were just starting today, I don’t think they would have that reputation, only appealing to men. Society has told women, “Nah, this isn’t for you.” It’s literally the punch line of jokes, “Women understanding The Three Stooges.” And they’re like, “Screw you, I don’t care, I’ve got Sex and the City.”
SC: There were a lot rumors swirling on who would be cast for this movie, with names like Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benecio Del Toro attached at various times. Tell me about finally snagging the roles.
CD: Well, it was grueling. When I first heard about the audition, I knew I wanted to be part of it. But I broke a lot of rules an actor shouldn’t break. They never met me out of character. I poured more of my heart into than I should have, especially since there was a big chance I wouldn’t have gotten it. In a course of four months, I read and met for it 10 times. I also mourned the loss of it a few times, when it was incorrectly reported other actors were taking the roles. I didn’t know.
But let me say this about the bigger names that were supposed to be attached. This is not Chaplin and what I mean by that is, you don’t want to see the sad clowns behind The Stooges, you just want to see The Stooges! I just think it’s easier for an audience to absorb Moe, Larry and Curly if they’re not looking at Sean Penn, Benecio Del Toro and Jim Carrey. No disrespect to those guys, I think they are incredible and can do anything, but…
WS: It was insane. I spoke to the Farrelly brothers about seven or eight years ago about it. They called me into a meeting and said they heard I used to do Curly when I was on MadTV. I said, “No. But you don’t want me to have done it on MadTV.” And they’re like, “Why?” “Because I would have done already on TV and it would be derivative. You guys are making a big movie, you’re the Farrelly brothers.” And now knowing Pete and Bob like I do, I find it interesting when they said, “Oh, yeah, you’re right. Good point. We’ll send you some DVDs and we’ll be in touch.” It finally came back around and for a lot of reasons it didn’t happen with those bigger names. But it was a long process. They saw everybody. When they were in talks with Jim Carrey, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll see that movie.” I would trust Jim Carrey. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter — what matters is Larry, Moe and Curly. Making sure we deliver The Three Stooges.
SC: What was it like when the three of you saw each other for the first time on set, in character?
CD: It was surreal. Watching the crews’ reactions was amazing, because the crew was made of primarily men over the age of 45. I had goose bumps for 16 weeks and it wasn’t just because I had the snot knocked out of me.
SC: What is your favorite Stooges move?
CD: It’s a non-violent one. Moe does this thing I like called “The Cobra.” When he says something and Curly seemingly agrees but says something idiotic and then Moe almost agrees but realizes what has just been said. Then he does this thing where he stands, with his fists by his side or folds his arms and rolls his head from one side to the next and then cocks his head. And you know Curly is going to get clobbered.
WS: One of my favorites we weren’t able to do in the film is when Curly would get slapped so hard, he would end up rolling backwards and literally standing on his head, up against the wall. We’ll have to do it for the sequel.
SC: Is there one thing about Moe and Curly we might not know?
CD: Moe Howard, the actor, was an amazing cook. He used to have the boys over all the time, made an incredible lasagna. But Moe the character is actually a real softie and an altruist.
WS: Curly comes from and is Curly Howard, the man. Curly Howard was actually kind of a quiet guy who didn’t hobnob with a lot of people. He really preferred animals to people. He grew up around animals on the farm, that’s why they are so many animal mannerisms in Curly the character. That mysterious man brought to life this character that people loved. He was the baby brother [to Moe Howard and Shep Howard]. Moe’s nickname for him was Babe. He always wanted his older siblings and his family to be happy and Curly brought that to the character.
SC: When I’m interviewing actors who are in very serious movies, I ask them how they would blow of steam, lighten things up when the camera wasn’t rolling. I want to ask the opposite here, would you guys read Shakespeare in the off hours?
CD: [Laughs] That’s a great question. I may be teased for saying this, but I really did look at this role as a serious undertaking. There are physical mannerisms, emotional nuances, facial expressions, intonations, which way to cock the head, where the eyebrows raised in this moment, how does he walk, how does he hold a spoon? It’s funny because we are talking about Moe, but why should it be any different from another role? A character is a character and if you’re going to immerse yourself, you’ve got to take it seriously. You want to know what we did in our trailers and on weekends? We’d watch The Stooges. I’m not kidding.
WS: We never got serious. Occasionally we’d be talking to each other, like we are talking now. If Sean was in his wig and Chris was in his wig, and we’d be eating lunch or something, every once in awhile, we’d just start cracking up. Look at you! You look insane! We were just laughing all day long.
SC: Do you think The Three Stooges will gain a whole new legion of fans?
WS: The Farrellys took the Stooges to the MPAA and asked what it was, and they said, it’s PG. So because of that, The Three Stooges is actually for the whole family. This is the legacy the Stooges gave us – and it’s PG! And I do think women are going to love it. There is a lot of heart to the Stooges. I mean back in the day, they made 16-minute shorts. They were never given the opportunity in their prime to make a 90-minute movie. And if they did, they probably would have been even bigger stars, to be able to infuse story.
SC: Working with directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly must have also been a hoot…
CD: I’d walk a thousand miles for Pete and Bob Farrelly, that’s all I have to say. Anything that Pete and Bob ask me to do, provided it didn’t mean stapling my genitals to something, I’d seriously consider it. I think those guys are true blue, incredibly talented and have hearts bigger than anyone I know. They just do it right.
SC: And now they are going to do a sequel to Dumb & Dumber!
CD: I know. It’s fantastic. I can’t even believe it! I’ve got to get in there, and I could probably do it, too, because I’m pretty sure Pete Farrelly still has no idea what I really look like.
WS: Maybe the Stooges could crash the film.
Will you be seeing The Three Stooges?