Up Close and Personal With 'Milo'
Ken Marino, Gillian Jacobs, and director Jacob Vaughan on their monster Midnighter
If Milo has a prevailing theme, it's trouble with intimacy. Accounting drone Duncan (Ken Marino) has problems forging relationships with his wife (Gillian Jacobs), his father (Stephen Root), and Milo, the rage-fueled demon baby living in his colon. "It's a fresh take on a monster movie," said Marino. "A monster crawls out of somebody's ass, kills people, and goes back up their ass."
A rectally obsessed relationship comedy with a scatological/supernatural splash is not necessarily what you would expect from Jacob Vaughan, a longtime creative collaborator with such talents as the Duplass brothers and Bryan Poyser. There is, he admits, a slightly autobiographical twist to it. No, not the colon creature. "I had my bouts with bowels," Vaughan said, "up until I became an adult and realized that my diet directly affects how I feel inside." But that's not the kind of inner turmoil Milo is really about. Whenever the beast returns home to his cozy intestinal nest, Vaughan said, "Duncan feels very humiliated and ruined and distraught. Whenever I lose my temper or lose my cool, which is essentially what's happening whenever Milo goes out in the world and kills somebody, I feel humiliated because I lost my cool."
Still, selling even experienced comedy actors on Rosemary's Butt-Baby couldn't have been easy. "You do it honestly," Vaughan said. "I'd say to people: 'Look, you're never going to see it actually crowning. That's just not what I want to do. But I'm going to imply, and I'm going to shoot around it, and it's really not about the creature. It's about this guy coming to terms with his life.'"
The movie depends on Milo – a two-person puppet created by Fractured FX – being believable. Marino called their on-set relationship "a little dance. ... He's such a beautiful puppet, with such personality. The way the puppeteers were moving it around, it did feel like it was present and there."
Production hinged on their biggest star's availability, as the crew only had Milo himself for 11 out of 25 shooting days. When all you can shoot in any one action sequence is a single gag, Vaughan said, "The puppeteer's back here and Gillian's over here, and he's occasionally actually hitting Gillian, but it worked, because all I needed was a couple of seconds here and a couple of seconds there, and I can bridge it."
When it came to their most intimate scenes, Marino said: "The key problem I had when I saw the monster was, how does it fit up my ass? Because its head was so big, it would be painful, there would be damage, I would die." That's not exactly the kind of scene for which the Method prepares you. For those all-important insertions, he said, "I try to imagine a monster crawling up my ass, and then I portray that real pain."
Vaughan said, "My dream is someone coming to Comic-Con dressed up as Milo. Or dressed up as Duncan with Milo coming out of his ass."
"If you tweet it, they will come," Jacobs added. While Marino was cuddling up with Milo, she had her own practical effects to deal with: a prosthetic pregnancy bump. She said, "My mom came over to my apartment when we had the fitting. It was pretty strange, standing there with a pregnant belly with my mom going, 'Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.'"
Jacobs described herself and Marino as "co-straight-men in the movie. We're basically just in a marriage drama." Although, she admitted, most relationship dramas with this much butt action "are more like Last Tango in Paris." Before becoming famous as Britta, the perky megalomaniac of NBC's Community, she said, "I only did very serious movies, and I don't think people think of me doing those anymore. So it's fun for me, because that's what I started doing."
If Marino has problems getting close to Milo, when it came to acting with Patrick Warburton as his boss, the key words were "personal space." Marino said, "Patrick Warburton made this choice in the movie where it was like he was attracted to me and coming on to me in every scene. He would invade my space and get real close and get real quiet and flirty, and I didn't know what the hell."
Jacobs: "He wanted to fuck you and fuck you over, like any good boss."
Narrative Spotlight, World Premiere
Thursday, March 14, 9:45pm, Paramount