Tom Arnold has managed to carve out a unique niche in Hollywood. He started out as a stand-up comedian and writer on the TV sitcom Roseanne, before his marriage to the show’s star, Roseanne Barr heightened his profile. Arnold, then, managed to become a film actor in roles as varied as True Lies, Nine Months, Happy Endings, The Kid & I, and Gardens Of The Night.
These days, he’s best known as a TV show host, for Fox Sports Net’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period! and currently for Country Music Television’s My Big Redneck Wedding. Now the 52 year-old stars as himself in his latest film, a mockumentary-styled comedy known as Brother’s Justice.
In the film, actor Dax Shepard trades in his primary profession of comedy to become an international martial arts action film star. And Tom and co-star Bradley Cooper helps Shepard to achieve his dream. The comic talks about how he became a part of this film.
“We’re friends with all the guys and all of them are really close to Dax,” Arnold says, “So when he came up with the idea for this movie he asked all his friends, including me, to be in it. This is a few years ago, so Bradley Cooper was our buddy, he’s a good actor, he’s a very sweet guy, let’s give him a little part in the movie, you know, throw Bradley a bone. Then by the time we were done with the movie Bradley’s like the biggest star in the world suddenly. Everybody’s career that was in the movie is going straight up except for Dax’s.”
Arnold talks about his relationship with Shepard as it pertains to the notion that the film is autobiographical.
“Very inappropriate,” he describes of it, “It was very inappropriate. But I have to say that I understood it like this; he’s doing a movie, he’s interesting in me playing his brother. That’s what I seriously understood until he got to my house and he was filming, and I thought I was playing the part, I’m going to be the brother, and I’m playing along and then he’s like ‘Well, maybe the dad.’
“I’m like, ‘What! Because seriously, that’s couldn’t happen. I’m not old enough,’” Tom adds, “But no, I have a brother who’s your age and he’s my brother, he’s not my dad. So it’s weird. But anyway the fight, and it heated up, that’s real. I was just cascading sweat fighting I was so upset because I had to prove my point.”
Tom was asked whether the rest of the cast knew they were being spoofed in the film.
“The truth is, with the economy, with everything that’s going on our business, your business, everybody’s business is different,” Arnold says, “So this gave us an excuse, all these guys, the 10 guys that are in this, gave us an excuse to say, ‘Hey, let’s pull together for Dax,’ but what we really want to do is just get together with our buddies and do something fun. That’s why we filmed some and then we wanted to do some more, and that would never have happened if everything was going swell and everybody was doing the jobs they want to do. So that’s the good news.”
Arnold recalls a moment he had where he thought he had a great idea that he pitched, only to end up being told it was terrible by the person he pitched it to.
Guy: Can one of you describe a moment where you thought you had an absolutely fabulous idea and you pitched it to someone and they were like “That’s terrible”?
“There was a pitch that my wife and I were taking around called Say it to My Face,” Tom recalls, “Basically, on the Internet you can say anything you want about anybody, you can dog them, you can say they were rude to you at an airport, they did this or that. And I know celebrities; they’ve all got something that they’ve read about themselves that they want to make right. So what if you could track these people down that say these things and find them? And it came from there was a guy that on IMDB was just dogging me, so I got his url or whatever and I tracked him down. I find out he’s living in New Jersey, I track him down, and I just start hammering him. He had a website called Tom Arnold is the Devil, and he actually had a picture of my eyeball and said you could see a 666 in there, and if you look you could.”
“So I just start hammering this guy,” he continues, “I said I’m getting even with this guy, and then I find out that the kid lives in his mom’s basement, and he didn’t have any friends and now he’s got like 200 because he has this website called Tom Arnold is the Devil. And so I was so embarrassed. It was in Hollywood Reporter because I was so stupid. So then I said to the guy, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel terrible. Please put the site back up. I’ll give you some help on proving that I am the devil,’ and I ruined this kid’s life. But the idea is if someone says an out and out lie, you were in Chicago and you were rude to everybody, and you can prove it, we track the people down that said it and then in the perfect world the celebrity would show up to McDonald’s where they work and they’d hash it out, say it to my face. Anyway, so that’s what we pitched, and the show that came out of it, which we’re doing now, Dax comes in, tells a story, and then we have babies or dogs or animation play it out, act it out. And that’s a completely different show; it has nothing to do with anything.”
Tom talks about the experience of doing an independent film that is 80% improvised.
“We loved it, the actors, because our director is committed to this so much and we could really get behind a guy that puts himself out there like that,” Arnold says, “It reminded me a long time ago I did [True Lies] and Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to jump from a down escalator to an up escalator, you know jump over the top, and he got really scared and was like “I’m afraid to do this.” And Jim Cameron’s like ‘Why? Why is it so hard?’ and he ran up there and Jim Cameron jumped over the escalator in front of everybody to show how easy it was. And that reminded me of Dax. Put himself on the line.”
Unlike most independent films that get small releases in arthouse theatres mostly in New York City and Los Angeles, Brother’s Justice is being released directly to Video on Demand. Arnold shares how he feels Video on Demand is changing the film industry.
“Now they’re putting independent films in the hotel rooms and they’re opening up a whole section, because of this VOD thing, “ he says, “Where before they wouldn’t have independent films, they’d just have the big comedy of the week and this and that.”
“So in that way I saw Ceremony in a hotel a month ago, that’s Henry Winkler’s kid, Max’s movie, and I really liked it,” Tom adds, “And I also liked having the opportunity to see it before it came to the theaters. But in our case we really were praying for a theatrical release of any kind. It seems backward, but we’re okay with it.”
Tom gave us a highly interesting description as to what the film can be considered.
“A mock-buster,” Arnold replies, “Write that down. I just coined that. I like it because it is really funny and plus you get to see a lot of guys you recognize and have these little inside moments and you see how everybody’s relationship works with each other and you go “Oh that’s me and my buddies,” except their buddies are Bradley Cooper and Ashton Kutcher.
Finally, Arnold shared with us if there was anything else he’d want to do that might surprise people.
“Porno, of course,” Tom answers, “It’s the ace in the hole, so to speak. That’s the name of my porno; Ace in the Hole. I think I would like to do more of the same. I’ve done some dramatic parts and to get accepted if you’re Tom Arnold into doing that, that takes a whole… I’d like to do a little more of that stuff, it was fun.”
“And I’d like to keep working,” he continues, “I’d love it if my pilot got picked up this year. Whatever happens and wherever it leads me it’s just an honor to be able to do this job and not be working at Hormel anymore like I used to.”