Reilly on Dewey Cox

Allan Lamb

“I did as many drugs as possible and slept with as many women as possible,” actor John C. Reilly joked about his new movie and preparing for his role as Dewey Cox.

Normally a character-actor, Reilly stars in his first major lead in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, due in theaters Dec. 21. Inevitably, he received many questions regarding this change.

“This role is like, I’ve been preparing my entire life to play,” he said, later adding “I always say I try to play any character as if it were his life story . I just get to spend a lot more time in front of the camera.”

Reilly contrasted where he is now to where he was almost 10 years ago.

“I have a lot of favorite projects, but the thing that comes to mind is Boogie Nights,” he said. “I was still pretty much anonymous so I didn’t have the expectations I do now.”

The creation of the Dewey Cox character was a multi-faceted process according to Reilly.

“We took from a lot of people’s life stories — Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Brian Wilson, Mack Davis in the ’70s,” he said. “I just fill in the gaps of my own experience when I prepare.”

Reilly, who made a name for himself playing dramatic roles in films such as Boogie Nights and The Good Girl, has also found a place in comedy with Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He spoke of the field day he had playing Dewey Cox.

“My favorite thing about playing Dewey was getting to be a rock star . He always had this goofy optimism. It was fun playing someone who was so oblivious to his egoistic, narcissistic side,” he said. “I had a lot of fun doing the PCP rampage scene . I just sort of fell in love with this character in all the different phases of his life.”

Reilly also had a hand in writing the role. The film’s producer and co-writer Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) is well-known for giving actors a lot of freedom in their characters’ development and dialogue.

Although the film is based on the lives of real rock stars, that did not prevent Reilly and the writers from being irreverent with their parody.

“In comedy, especially when you’re doing stuff like this, you got to go all out and cross the line . It’s all done with a lot of love, that’s the thing. Most of the guys are music lovers and come from music families. I bet if you showed Johnny Cash this movie, he would have a good laugh.”

Contact all reporter Allan Lamb at [email protected].