Jason Sudeikis: Film critics have a lack of imagination
Jason Sudeikis's new film has been lambasted for its crude humour, but Tom Teodorczuk hears the actor defend Horrible Bosses 2
At a time when more Hollywood comedians are flaunting their loudness and lewdness, Jason Sudeikis's rise to stardom seems remarkably understated and subdued.
Sure, there have been public romances with leading actresses (Sudeikis previously dated Mad Men's January Jones and he is now happily ensconced with Olivia Wilde and their seven-month-old son Otis). But, unlike many of his peers, Sudeikis hasn't had to apologise for politically incorrect rants that went viral, or launched a war on Twitter. He is never asked about any similarities between himself and the screwed-up characters he plays on screen - whether it's a family man going off the rails in Hall Pass or a small-time drug dealer in We're The Millers - for good reason.
Sudeikis, 39, is now one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, having featured in four films that have grossed more than $200m worldwide in the past six years. He possesses a boyish, goofy comedic appeal, his relaxed mien enhanced by the fact that he's a late developer by Hollywood standards - he only acted in his first film in 2007. Sudeikis's new film, Horrible Bosses 2, is hardly understated or subdued. Horrible Bosses was a 2011 black comedy in which a trio of bitter workers played by Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day murdered their tyrannical managers. Most of the starry supporting players return for the sequel - Jennifer Aniston as a sex-crazed dentist, Kevin Spacey as a psychopathic CEO and Jamie Foxx as the ex-con "murder consultant". Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz is a milionaire business investor who steals the workers' money.
The success of Horrible Bosses took Hollywood off-guard, tapping into audiences' own experiences with micro-managing superiors in the workplace. But for the second film, Sudeikis says, they've cast a wider net and taken a look at economic inequality: "While we're not preaching or trying to change anybody's minds, they are a reflection of the times. It started out as comedic conceit/bar-banter between three pals getting so frustrated with their bosses that they killed them. Here the theme underlying it as a jumping point is the 99 per cent versus the one per cent."
Horrible Bosses 2 is Sudeikis's first sequel and he insists it wasn't inevitable. "We didn't know we were (going to be) making a sequel while we were making the first one," he says. "It wasn't an automatic 'yes' from Charlie, Jason and I until we were able to agree on a script and a story."
Horrible Bosses 2 has been criticised by some reviewers for being racist and misogynistic. Sudeikis contends it personifies a heightened version of reality: "Each boss personifies a different element, whether we're being put on our heels due to a woman's frank sexuality or Jamie Foxx's character and the way he deals with race... Christoph challenges us on class, status and wealth, Spacey challenges our masculinity. Each one is almost like the archetype for the Everyman which we divide by three people to go through.
"While some people may just write it off as dumb, crude humour," he says, "I think they are maybe in a position of criticising films because of a lack of imagination."
Sudeikis frequently works with Aniston. This is the third time that they've collaborated in recent times, I say. "I'm not allowed to do a movie without her," he replies before correcting me: "It's actually the fourth movie." This time around, Aniston's sexually voracious dentist wears a cock ring around her neck and she has said she was impressed that Sudeikis was the only person on set to notice the appendage. "I've never used one but I know what they look like," he says.
Horrible Bosses 2 is out now