Actor Nick Kroll: 'I'm A Real Solid Uncle The First Hour'

Actor Nick Kroll: 'I'm A Real Solid Uncle The First Hour'

10:47am Apr 26, 2015
In Adult Beginners, Nick Kroll plays a failed tech entrepreneur who moves in with his older sister (Rose Byrne) and starts looking after her young son (Caleb and Matthew Paddock).
In Adult Beginners, Nick Kroll plays a failed tech entrepreneur who moves in with his older sister (Rose Byrne) and starts looking after her young son (Caleb and Matthew Paddock).
Courtesy of RADiUS-TWC

Nick Kroll is the star of a lot of things, including Kroll Show on Comedy Central and The League on FX. And if that wasn't enough, he now has a new film coming out called Adult Beginners. Kroll tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his character in the film, Jake, is in transition.

"He has created a wearable technology company. We see him at the beginning of the movie just as it's falling apart," he says. "And he loses all of his money, all of the relationships that he's built, his girlfriend, friends, everything, and has to leave the city. And the only place he can turn is to move in with his [older] sister and her husband and their 3-year-old son. And to pay his way, he becomes their nanny."


Interview Highlights

On whether he has children in his life and how he interacts with them

I don't have children myself, but I have 12 nieces and nephews. I've been asked to babysit maybe once. And so that became the basis for what would it be like for a youngest brother — I'm the youngest of four — what would it be like for that youngest, selfish, younger brother all of a sudden thrust into a caretaker role with his nephew. ...

I'm a real solid uncle the first hour. I'm a real good first-impression uncle. The second hour gets a little tricky, and by hour three I'm either on my phone or taking a nap.

On his and co-star Bobby Moynihan's connection to the New York City suburbs, where the film is set

I grew up in the suburbs outside of New York and we shot the movie largely in the city of New Rochelle. I had a lot of friends in that town growing up. And my friend Bobby Moynihan from Saturday Night Live plays a supporting role as a guy who I'd gone to high school with. And I have to go to like a local department store to buy a bathing suit and run into him. ... And he reminds me a lot of who I was in high school. And Bobby actually grew up literally down the block from where we shot that scene and was like, "Oh, this used to be, before it was a little department store, was the bowling alley where I used to have birthday parties."

On his inspiration for Liz G, a recurring character on Kroll Show

[She's] really an amalgamation of a lot of people. And one of Liz's — my character's — sort of catchphrases I would say is, "Sorry my hands are so cold." Because I found that every time I shook hands with a specific kind of woman they would apologize about how cold their hands were.

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Nick Kroll is the star of a lot of things, including the "Kroll Show" on Comedy Central, "The League" on FX, and if that weren't enough, Kroll has a new film coming out. It is called "Adult Beginners." He joins us now from the Studios of WGBH in Boston. Thanks so much for being with us, Nick.

NICK KROLL: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So I want to ask about your TV work in a few minutes. But let's start with this new movie. You play the main character, a guy named Jake. Jake is in transition. Can you just kind of give us a snapshot of where he is at in his life?

KROLL: Sure. He has created a wearable technology company. We see him at the beginning of the movie just as it's falling apart. And he loses all of his money, all of the relationships that he's built - his girlfriend, friends, everything - and has to leave the city. And the only place he can turn is to move in with his sister and her husband and their 3-year-old son. And to pay his way, he becomes their nanny.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ADULT BEGINNERS")

BOBBY CANNAVALE: (As Danny) You want to watch Teddy?

KROLL: (As Jake) Yeah, sure. I'll watch cartoons with him while you guys have a night on the town. I could do that like every other week.

MARTIN: Do you have children in your life, Nick?

KROLL: I don't have children myself, but I have 12 nieces and nephews. I've been asked to babysit maybe once.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

KROLL: And so that became the basis for what would it be like for a youngest brother - I'm the youngest of four - what would it be like for that youngest, selfish younger brother all of a sudden thrust into a caretaker role with his nephew?

MARTIN: So this is a little autobiographical this story - a smidge?

KROLL: A smidgen in it's - I wouldn't call it wish fulfillment. I'm a real solid uncle for the first hour. I'm a real good first impression uncle. The second hour gets a little tricky. And by hour three, I'm either on my phone or taking a nap.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

KROLL: I mean, I think the hope is that the relationship between siblings, specifically older sisters and younger brothers, I obviously called from my own life. But everyone involved in making the movie was able to give input as to what it's like to have a sibling and how complicated those relationships are and what it's like to have parents who've moved away 'cause Justine Rose's character and her husband, played by Bobby Cannavale, are living in our childhood home. So not only am I going to live with her, but I'm going back to my childhood bedroom, rediscovering my, like, sweatshirt from the musical "Cats."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TENNESSEE")

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: (Singing) ...Why does it have to be so damn tough. I don't know where I can go.

KROLL: And...

MARTIN: And a Sony Walkman.

KROLL: And a Sony Walkman playing Arrested Development and a Choose Your Own Adventure book and then some incredibly real and serious elements to life that I kind of left behind.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ADULT BEGINNERS")

KROLL: (As Jake) Thank you for not throwing everything away.

MARTIN: The film does take place in New York City and outside of New York. And this is where you're from, right? This is where you grew up?

KROLL: Yeah. I grew up in the suburbs outside of New York, and we shot the movie largely in the city of New Rochelle. I had a lot of friends in that town growing up. And my friend Bobby Moynihan from "Saturday Night Live" plays a supporting role as a guy who I had gone to high school with. And I have to go to like a local department store to buy a bathing suit and run into him. And he sort of...

MARTIN: That's a great scene.

KROLL: Yeah. He's so funny in it.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ADULT BEGINNERS")

BOBBY MOYNIHAN: (As Paul) Paul Regio, Regio Jackson. Come on, man. Everyone called me that. I went to New Rochelle High with you.

KROLL: (As Jake) Oh.

MOYNIHAN: (As Paul) I think we did "Guys And Dolls" altogether. I think you were Sky Masters, and I think I was Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

KROLL: (As Jake) No, that was Goldberg.

MOYNIHAN: (As Paul) That's right. I did tech. But if auditioned, I would have been Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

KROLL: (As Jake) No doubt.

He reminds me of a lot of the - who I was in high school. And Bobby actually grew up literally down the block from where we shot that scene and was like, oh, this is the - this used to be, before it was a little department store, was the bowling alley where I used to have birthday parties.

MARTIN: No way.

KROLL: Yeah.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Let's talk about TV for a moment because you are yourself in a bit of a transition. You're show "The League" on FX is wrapping up its seventh and final season. Very funny show. This great ensemble cast about guys in a fantasy football league. Last month, another transition for you - the final episode of your own sketch comedy show, the "Kroll Show." This is sketch comedy at its best, if you don't mind me saying.

KROLL: Thank you.

MARTIN: You play a bunch of different characters. For people who aren't familiar with it, let's play a little clip of the show. This is you playing a character named Liz G.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KROLL SHOW")

KROLL: (As Liz G.) Oh, hey guys. You didn't even recognize me.

JENNY SLATE: (As Liz B.) Like, are you, like, hiding from, like, the paparazzi or, like...

KROLL: (As Liz G.) I may as well soon be considering.

SLATE: (As Liz B.) Considering, like, what?

KROLL: (As Liz G.) Bangs. I got bangs.

MARTIN: We should give the back story. You mentioned Jenny Slate. She plays the other Liz. It's two Lizes. And they have a Publizity firm.

KROLL: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KROLL SHOW")

SLATE: (As Liz B.) Congrats. I'm Liz. I had a baby. And now it's time for me to grow up.

KROLL: (As Liz G.) And I'm Liz. I got bangs.

SLATE: (As Liz B.) Our PR firm is called Publizity.

MARTIN: (Laughter) So dare I ask where the inspiration for Liz G. comes from?

KROLL: Really, an amalgamation of a lot of people. And the one of Liz - my character's sort of catch phrases I would say is (as Liz G.) sorry my hands are so cold. Because I found that every time I shook hands with a specific kind of woman, they would apologize about how cold their hands were.

MARTIN: (Laughter) That is a thing that I hadn't thought of until just now.

KROLL: Oh, it is a thing.

MARTIN: Did you learn anything? I mean, you're an old hat at comedy, but I imagine having your own show and a sketch-driven comedy like this one - did you walk away learning something about your craft?

KROLL: Oh, constantly.

MARTIN: Yeah.

KROLL: I really learned a ton about just how to have the endurance to make something, to see something both from the conception to the writing to the physical production to the postproduction to then going out and trying to spread the word about it. I think I went back to "Kroll Show" after shooting "Adult Beginners," and I had learned a lot about acting making the "Adult Beginners" that took back to "Kroll Show" as ridiculous as it might sound to think, like, how seriously I took the fact that Liz had grown bangs.

MARTIN: (Laughter) It's a big thing in her life.

KROLL: It was a big moment in her life, and she had cut bangs. And it ended up being a real roller coaster for her.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Nick Kroll. You can see him in the new film "Adult Beginners." Thanks so much for talking with us, Nick.

KROLL: Thanks so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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