Nick Swardson is probably best known for his role in “Grandma’s Boy” and cameo appearances in numerous Happy Madison films, but a quick look at his career shows that he’s an incredibly busy guy. For people who aren’t familiar with Swardson’s work, he started doing stand-up at age 18 and since then has gone on to produce, write and act. Die hard fans have known this for years that he’s constantly writing, acting and working on fresh material for his stand-up. Media Mikes had the chance to catch up with Nick and ask him about the numerous TV and movie projects he’s been working on for 2014, as well as a new comedy special.
Jeremy Werner: It looks like you got a busy year ahead of you…especially this month. Let’s start off with “Back in the Day” which comes out on January 17th. How did you land the role of Ron?
Nick Swardson: Michael Rosenbaum, the director/writer, is a buddy of mine and he just called me up and he’s like, “Man I got this passion project I’m doing. It’s low budget. We have no money.” He goes, “It’s a great character. You’ll kill it. We’ll shoot in Indiana. It’d be fucking great to have you.” So he sent me the script and I thought it was a really funny character and it was something different than what I’ve done in the past. Ya know, it wasn’t a crazy character. It was a grounded, real dude. So I was pretty stoked. So as a favor to Michael too, I wanted to help him out. So I did it.
JW: Was there anything you had to differently than in past roles?
NS: It was just a lot more understated. I didn’t have to come in to the scene and be insane. This role is also based on a real guy so I was kind of interested to play a real dude…and I talked to Michael a lot about what this guy was like. So it was fun to play a real person.
JW: Was it a role that he had you in mind for the entire time he was writing it?
NS: He had the script for like 10 years. He had it for a long time. So I don’t know who he had initially envisioned, but he called me first.
JW: Now also this month, you have a big release on TV. “Chozen” premieres January 13th on FX and you play Troy. What can you tell us about that character?
NS: Troy plays Chozen’s nerdy, minion friend. He kind of saves him from bullies and so they become pals. Chozen shows him this whole world of sex and drugs. It’s pretty funny. The show’s pretty crazy..it’s one of the craziest things I’ve done and I’ve done a lot of crazy shit. Working with Danny McBride is awesome. His company is amazing. I love all the “Eastbound and Down” guys…it’s FX, so they really push the envelope.
JW: As a comedian, does voice acting provide you a lot of opportunities to improvise or are you restricted?
NS: No. I’m never restricted in anything I do. I only do projects where I can bring a lot to the table. I use to get fired just because I improvised a lot. It’s the main thing I do, I love improvising.
JW: I’ve read that usually in voice acting, you’re just kind of in a booth on your own. Who were you able to bounce jokes and ideas off of with your character?
NS: Usually you’re all alone…you’re just sitting in a booth and the producers are in the other room, so you just kind of run with it. They’ll give you a thumbs up if it’s good or they’ll do the heads up and tell you if it works. They’ll just feed you ideas…but it’s a great gig.
JW: Later this year you’ll also be voicing a character in the animated movie, “Hell & Back”. You actually voiced a character in the kid’s movie “Bolt”, but based on the premise I was reading…this is not a kid’s movie.
NS: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s pretty insane. It’s stop motion, so it looks like a kid’s movie. So if a kid saw it on TV he’d be like, “Oh! I wanna see this!” But it’s a hard, hard ‘R’. That’s another project that me and Danny McBride are both in with TJ Miller and Mila Kunis. It’s a great cast and that one’s gonna be really awesome. We’re finishing that up this week. I’ve got like one more record session…we’re really excited about that.
JW: Now with all these projects, are you working on any comedy specials this year?
NS: Yeah, I’ve been developing for the last two years, a new hour special and a new tour. So we’re looking to tour in the Spring…early Summer. Shoot the special maybe sometime in the Summer. It’s definitely in the works. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really excited..it’s coming together really well.
JW: Anything you can tell us about it?
NS: It’s just more stories, drinking jokes and it’s nothing too out of the box. I’m not all of a sudden really political. If you’re a fan of mine, you’ll be happy with it. The new hour’s going really well. I think the title of it is gonna be, ‘Taste It’.
JW: I know last year you were talking about a show you were working on called “Bro-Sassin”. How is that coming along?
NS: Bro-Sassin’s done. It didn’t fly. The network just didn’t get it. They thought it was gonna be too expensive…so they kind of backed off it, which bums me out, man. I wrote the pilot and it was really funny. People loved it, I’m gonna save the idea for a movie. I sold a new show to FX. My own show with the director of “Grandma’s Boy” and Danny McBride’s producing it. It’s called “Game On”. It’s like the office of a video game company…so we’re developing the pilot right now.
JW: Does that have any connections to “Grandma’s Boy”?
NS: Not really.
JW: Looks like you got a lot of stuff going on, is there anything else you’re working on for later this year?
NS: A lot of it depends on the pilot with FX and shooting that, seeing if we get picked up. That’s the primary focus right now. I’m developing two other feature scripts. So if this FX pilot grows, I’m gonna jump into an idea I sold to Sandler and Happy Madison and I’ll hopefully write that next Fall and start developing that.