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“Is it tomorrow there?” begins Mark Hamill, sitting alongside The Machine co-star Bert Kreischer ahead of the action-comedy’s release. “They’re going to love it in Australia,” he adds, revealing he was recently been in the country to “promote other movies”.
Hamill continues: “[Australians] have such a great sense of humour; they are outrageous, and we had the best time in Australia. I loved it there. If I come back, I’m going to want to stay, because it takes you so long to… you’re falling asleep at one in the afternoon and waking up at four in the morning. It takes you a couple of days to get turned around. But once you do, it’s more than worth it.”
Kreischer, a stand-up comic by trade, has also recently returned from Australia, promising he’ll be back. Fans of his comedy will be very familiar with the real-life story that The Machine is based on; his signature set recounts his true experience with Russian mobsters while on a college trip.
It’s that unbelievable story, that ends with Kreischer robbing his entire class during a wild train ride, that sets up the fictitious tale we’re offered in The Machine, set 23 years later with Hamill portraying his estranged father. The duo are kidnapped by the mob and taken back to Russia to atone for something they say he did during that trip.
“I was like, ‘This film needs to go hard,’” Kreischer explains. “I know what live comedy’s doing and I know what jokes we’re telling on stage in live comedy, and there has been a disconnect in live comedy and [film], but the live comedy venues are murdering it right now. I mean, I’ve got five friends doing arenas. We’re all doing arenas. So, the fans are out there, they want it, it just wasn’t being delivered.
“We took some big chances and I think they paid off. I remember telling Mark, ‘[Someone’s] head gets ripped off,’ and Mark’s like, ‘That’s not funny.’ And we’re like, ‘No, but it will be. You got to trust us.’ And he was like, ‘You’re ripping a man’s head off…’”
Hamill chimes in: “Yeah, I didn’t know. I told them, ‘This is going to cut the comedy cold because it’s so gruesome and so graphic. But what do I know? I was attracted to the script because of the relationship between Bert and his father. I could really relate to that. I had issues with my father. He was very much different than I was. But I just admire the way the script is so unpredictable.
“Minor spoiler alert, the fact that instead of me influencing Bert to become calmer and more like me, he influences me to where I lose my mind and go crazy… what an opportunity for me.”
Hamill says that he was “playing it like it was drama”.
“I don’t think you play comedy so much as play the truth. If you play the truth, the laughs will come,” he offers. “So, in many ways, it is a stark drama about being kidnapped and put in these unimaginable situations. But that’s what was so thrilling. Not only is it unlike anything I’ve been in before, I think it’s unlike anything that’s ever been before.”
Hamill looks over at Kreischer and says, “You mentioned it was a cross between the Hangover and…” Kreischer interjects with “Godfather II” and Hamill continues: “It’s so original and I hope people do see it in the theatre, because I think it’ll be a much more rewarding experience if you see it with a big crowd as opposed to seeing it at home months later.”
‘The Machine’ is in cinemas May 25