Spider-Man: Far From Home is now available for consumption on Digital and Blu-ray, and in celebration of this, LRM Online was invited to join teachers Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell (played by Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove) in a field trip of sorts. Sadly, we could not make the trip, as we did not have permission from our parents, but we were able to lock down some interview with the talent, including Starr.
In my conversations with the comedic actor, we touch on some of the pain behind Mr. Harrington’s eyes, as well as some interesting behind-the-scenes details of specific jokes in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. We also touch a bit on Silicon Valley, whose final season will air on HBO soon.
Anyway, check out my full interview below!
Spider-Man: Far From Home is available on Digital and Blu-ray today!
Starr: Hey, how are you? Good.
LRM Online: I am doing good. Good. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. I’m a huge fan. I cannot wait for the last season of Silicon Valley and I loved your role in Spider-Man, so it’s great to talk to you.
Starr: Yeah, we’re in the middle of shooting Silicon Valley right now. So, should be a fun one. So far it’s been great.
LRM Online: So when I first saw you in Spider-Man: Homecoming, at first I saw your character and I was like, oh, that’s Martin Starr. And then you opened your mouth and it didn’t sound like you. And I was thrown … I was thrown off for a little bit because I just wasn’t expecting sort of a different sort of vocal tone. Can you talk a bit about creating that sort of, for me at least, unique vocal tone for that character, you know, contrary to some of your other roles.
Starr: I’ve just been doing Silicon Valley so long. I think you associate that tone with me. But, in fact, I’m doing my job when I show up to work at Silicon Valley. And I get to do something different for Spider-Man and other things. So it’s fun to stretch other muscles like that and play around in new ways.
LRM Online: Sure.
Starr: I got to have a lot of fun. And surprisingly on Spider-Man, just being able to be, kind of … I mean, I don’t know if it’s surprising, I guess … But to be able to be the comedic relief in a movie like that. It’s super fun. Takes all the pressure off of, you know … I mean, Tom [Holland] kills it. I can only imagine having that kind of pressure of playing Spider-Man themself. It’s a lot easier for me, just to be able to lay back and have fun and do the thing that I do.
LRM Online: And in terms of the comedic aspects, you guys … you and Mr. Dell, you know, J.B. Smoove bring to the entire story … How much … did you guys have any room for improv at all? How much of that was improv? Like the little gags that you guys had, you know, random comments and stuff. How much of that was improv and how much of that was scripted would you say?
Starr: I forget what was used, but we improvised a lot. John left a lot of freedom to do that. And from the first movie to the second one, I think it grew even more. And I remember having a lot of freedom on the first movie and then I think John felt more comfortable in making a movie like that. I think it became, you know, he just kind of fell into a rhythm and a groove and had figured it out in a way that perhaps in the first movie he was, you know, busy trying to understand new things and growing and learning. And in the second one I think he had the swing of it. So he knew where we fit in, in a way, more so in the second one.
So, we got to play more on the comedy beats and I think we knew more where those comedy beats helped the story and where it all fits together. So, it became even more freeing on their second movie to improvise and have fun. And I think a lot of that got used.
But in general though, the comedy had been a bit more honed. And there was a comedy that didn’t end up in the first one that was written in the first one about me and my wife. And there were about like a divorce and just like kind of painted a dark, behind the scenes picture of who Mr. Harrington is and I guess it felt too dark or something. They ended up using it on a DVD like … behind the scenes thing, or you know, an extra scene that came out. And then for this one they actually incorporated it into the script a way where they couldn’t cut it out cause it’s right at like a pivotal plot point.
LRM Online: Right. So that was the Blip comment, right. That was the Blip comment where your character’s Blip pretended to Blip and ran off. So that was scripted.
Starr: Exactly. That joke wasn’t in the first one. But jokes like it were just in how sad his relationship with his wife is. Like just … his like happy-go-lucky kind of teacher, who doesn’t have his shit together very well. But somehow keeps it together well enough. And then you see this behind the scenes of his life is crumbling and he’s kind of a broken shell of a person [crosstalk 00:00:05:50]. Which just became a funny joke that we didn’t even get that much into. But it made me laugh and it made other people laugh. So it found it’s way back in somehow.
LRM Online: I mean there …
Starr: Yeah, that was scripted.
LRM Online: There was another line in the first one where you mentioned … you wouldn’t … you don’t want to lose another student. Not again. Was that an improv line or was that also scripted?
Starr: No, I think I improvised moments of that, but that was a scripted piece, that we shot for sure. That was a moment that was intentionally a joke that was written prior. I think I might’ve played around with it and found … I might’ve extended it a little bit, but that beat was there. Yeah. I think that was also nice in the sense that there was a lot of freedom given to finding the way that the rhythm of a joke worked and trusted me to do something I’ve been doing for a while.
LRM Online: Right.
Starr: So I got to play and find the rhythm of those jokes and play around and give them some options. And then they picked the one they liked the best. But I remember that … actually we shot on a day when I think they were busy doing something else and we just went out with a different camera crew as the sun was coming down and I don’t think we lit it or anything. It was just a natural light and I just got to do it as many times as I wanted to. I’m sure I did it too many times, but they found one that they liked. It all worked out.
LRM Online: So actually I’m not sure if you hear about this. Well, maybe you did. We’ll see. But I am sure you know about one thing. How you didn’t … you are not necessarily new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how you did pop up in The Incredible Hulk, x-amount of years ago, over a decade ago at this point.
Starr: Right. Yup.
LRM Online: And Kevin Feige did come out and say that, that is the same character that you play in the Spider-Man movies. Did you know that? And do you have any insight and thoughts as to, you know … I guess how you filled in the gaps between those years and now?
Starr: I did not connect it to … I did not assume that there was any connection. I auditioned for this separate from anything related to that. That was being friends with Ed Norton and he reached out and asked if I would come and do a cameo on that. And that was a dream come true. And in that I am such a huge fan of his and I was more than excited to have an opportunity to work with him. Even if it is just holding a piece of pizza, I’ll take it and then years later the wind up in a bigger way in the MTU is very cool. Those are questions I can’t answer. I was not connected to … as far as my performance is concerned. But if they’re connected … if Kevin says they’re connected, then they’re connected.
LRM Online: Awesome. Switching subjects for the final part. Anything you can tell us about the final season of Silicon Valley?
Starr: It’s going to be a big one. We just had a table read for episode six of seven. Our second to last episode. And it is, I think the funniest table read we’ve ever had. We had to stop the most I’ve experienced in six years just for laughter. We stopped many times. So that’s a good sign. I think we’re going to end on a real good note and hopefully everybody who watches will laugh until they feel pain in their stomachs and hopefully they don’t s**t their pants.
LRM Online: Or hopefully they do.
Starr: Yeah. You know what? You’re right. F**k it. I hope everyone laughs so hard they s**t their pants when they watch our show.
But I think at the very least it’ll be a nice, funny ending.
LRM Online: Right.
Starr: Hopefully people are happy the way it ends. I feel like there’s so much pressure on a show’s ending. Especially when you know that it’s ending and there’s this anticipation of them, you know, getting it right or doing what the fans want or something in that world. And obviously we have no idea what other people want. But it will stay consistent and yet alter. It’ll be the same and different. And it’ll end very conclusively. I know that Alec Berg will rack his brain, and Mike Judge will make sure the laughs are present. And they will make it a very strong ending, which I’m looking forward to. It’s great working for geniuses.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is out on Digital and Blu-ray!
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