Danny McBride

Danny McBride

Born in Statesboro, GA, McBride was part of a group of filmmaking friends who met as students at the acclaimed North Carolina School for the Arts in the late 1990s, including David Gordon Green, Jeff Nichols, and Jody Hill. Although not a trained actor - he majored in writing and directing - McBride's gift for improvisation made him ideal as talent for his friends' film projects, and he made his acting debut with a supporting role as a clownish pal to the Lothario hero (Paul Schneider) of Green's "All the Real Girls" (2003). Like Hill, McBride spent several years in Los Angeles in pursuit of work in Hollywood features, but returned to North Carolina after failing to land any roles of substance. It was in North Carolina that McBride and Hill, along with fellow alum Ben Best, first conceived of "The Foot Fist Way." The film was borne out of a brainstorming session in which Hill suggested a film in which McBride would play a tae kwon do instructor. Best was struck by the humor of the image, and the trio penned the script; after raising funds from friends, family, and a handful of credit cards, the trio began shooting the film with McBride in the lead as instructor Fred Simmons, whose self-contained world falls to pieces after he catches his wife in bed with his martial arts hero, B-movie actor Chuck "The Truck" Wallace (played by Best). Much of the film's humor came from Simmons' overwrought anguish over his marriage, as well as the physical abuse he endured as he attempted to work out his frustration with a host of opponents. Though the film was scripted, McBride improvised many of his scenes."The Foot Fist Way" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to enthusiastic crowds, but was unable to find a distributor. McBride and his partners eventually returned to Hollywood to support themselves through all manner of jobs. Meanwhile, the film's sales agent began to distribute DVDs of the picture around Hollywood, and it slowly earned a reputation as a must-see among the Hollywood comedy crowd. In late 2006, McBride and his partners received a call from Will Ferrell and his producing partner Adam McKay, who wanted to distribute the film through Gary Sanchez Productions, their new shingle at Paramount Vantage. Their meeting helped to introduce McBride to other big-name comedy stars like Stiller, Rogen, and Patton Oswalt, each of whom publicly voiced their affection for the film. They also began casting him in supporting roles in their features, including "Hot Rod" (2007) as a violence-prone sidekick to star Andy Samberg, and in Stiller's "The Heartbreak Kid" (2007) as Michelle Monaghan's boorish cousin, who makes life difficult for Ben Stiller. He could also be glimpsed as a partygoer in "Superbad" (2007) and a homeless pal of Owen Wilson's "budget bodyguard" in "Drillbit Taylor" (2008). In early 2008, McBride baffled many television viewers by appearing on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-) in character as Fred Simmons from "Foot Fist Way." His guest shot was filled with cheap insults for many of his fellow guests, including Will Ferrell, whom he accused of dancing suggestively during his interview segment, and a disastrous attempt at splitting a cinder block martial-arts style. For those in the know, however, the film solidified McBride's status as an up-and-coming comedy star in Hollywood. That status was solidified by his appearance in supporting roles in two of that summer's most anticipated comedies, "Tropic Thunder" (with Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey) and "Pineapple Express" (with Rogen and James Franco). Soon thereafter, McBride joined Ferrell in the theatrical version of "Land of the Lost" (NBC, 1974-1976), which was released in 2009. In the flurry of press that preceded the release of "The Foot Fist Way," McBride was frequently confused with writer-producer Danny McBride, who penned "Underworld" (2003) and its 2006 sequel.On the small screen, McBride had a choice role as Kenny Powers, a washed-up major league baseball pitcher with anger management issues in the cable sitcom, "Eastbound and Down" (HBO, 2009-2012). Powers returns to his North Carolina hometown, where he finds work as a substitute physical education teacher at his old middle school and earns mocking derision instead of the respect he thought he had. McBride continued a high-profile year with two major feature releases, co-starring opposite Seth Rogen in "Observe and Report" (2009) and opposite Will Ferrell in "Land of the Lost" (2009). Though his appearance in "Observe and Report" was minor, the disappointing performance of "Land of the Lost" did little to fulfill the promise of his potential film stardom. An unusually sedate and sincere supporting turn opposite George Clooney in the mid-life drama "Up in the Air" (2009), however, demonstrated an acting potential not previously seen in McBride. He kept busy the following year, providing voice work for the animated adventure "Despicable Me" (2010) and offering up a brief cameo as an unsympathetic Western Union clerk in the road comedy "Due Date" (2010), starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis.As one of the producers, screenwriters and stars of the stoner fantasy-comedy "Your Highness" (2011), McBride's career took a serious hit when the movie became one of the biggest critical and commercial disasters of the year. A co-starring role in the virtually overlooked crime comedy "30 Minutes or Less" (2011), only added salt to the wound. On more familiar and friendly ground, though, McBride returned for the third and final season of "Eastbound & Down" in early 2012, much the delight of Kenny Powers' growing legions of fans. Attempting yet another comeback as a pitcher for Myrtle Beach's fictional Mermen minor league team, the unrepentantly hedonistic Powers was shocked to discover that he was the father of his old flame's (Katy Mixon) baby boy.After "Eastbound & Down" wrapped production in 2012, McBride continued his fruitful associations with his longtime pals. McBride co-starred as Mississippi farmer Vernon Tull in James Franco's film adaptation of William Faulkner's classic modernist novel "As I Lay Dying" (2013). McBride, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen (who co-wrote and co-directed with his longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg) starred in the apocalyptic black comedy "This Is The End" (2013), playing fictionalized versions of themselves stranded in a Hollywood mansion following The Rapture. McBride's gleefully anarchic role as the group's primary antagonist attracted considerable critical attention.