He Is the Walrus

Justin Long's take on Tusk

Kevin Smith (l) and Justin Long
Kevin Smith (l) and Justin Long (Photo by John Anderson)

"The prospect of doing it was scary, you know, just in terms of how it could affect my career. My agents were very reticent about it but I knew I had to do it because, if nothing else, it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

That's actor Justin Long explaining why he chose to take the lead role in Kevin Smith's new horror comedy Tusk. Formerly known as the Mac to John Hodgman's stodgy PC in the celebrated Apple ad campaign, Justin Long plays Wallace, an initially unsympathetic podcaster who's hit the big time by disparaging the humiliations of sadly epic YouTube fails. He gets his comeuppance at the hands of a deranged Michael Parks, who kidnaps Long's character and slowly stitches him into a walrus pelt.

"In his initial email to me, Kevin described it as a two-hander, a character piece," said Long. "He didn't mention anything about a walrus. After reading halfway through the script, I was thrown, to put it mildly. It was so out there, so bizarre. I thought, if you're going to fail, what a fun way to fail. I knew it would be something memorable regardless of its Rotten Tomatoes score."

Tusk's none-too-subtle goring of douchey podcasters and the relatively new concept of cyberbullying makes the film a morality tale worthy of EC Comics.

"I could not agree more," said Long. "Originally, [Wallace] wasn't written as this guy who makes fun of people, he was just going to Canada in search of an orgy. I thought there was an opportunity to [make the film] a little bit more than a stoner horror movie. I met with Kevin the night after I read the script and told him my ideas. I didn't think he'd remember any of it because he was about two-and-a-half blunts deep at the time, but within days he had incorporated those ideas into the script. And so, you know, for a walrus-man movie, that second draft had a real poignancy to it."

Tusk opened in Austin theatres last Friday. See our review here.

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