A Minute With: Zach Galifianakis, politics and "The Campaign"

LOS ANGELES Wed Aug 8, 2012 5:11am EDT

Cast member Zach Galifianakis poses at the premiere of ''The Campaign'' at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California August 2, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on August 10. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Cast member Zach Galifianakis poses at the premiere of ''The Campaign'' at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California August 2, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on August 10.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Zach Galifianakis may be best known as the breakout star of "The Hangover" movie franchise, but on Friday, he takes on politics -- and Will Ferrell -- in the Jay Roach directed comedy "The Campaign."

The film is about Cam Brady (Ferrell), a congressman in North Carolina who has run unopposed for the last few elections and expects to cruise to another victory. But two CEOs determined to oust him decide to hand-pick a naive man, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), to run against him.

Galifianakis, 42, recently talked with Reuters about his personal connection to politics and his newfound passion for farming.

Q: Why is the world of politics such a goldmine for comedy?

A: "Politics has become so insanely rough and there's so much B.S. out there that we thought it would be interesting to make a movie about the making of candidates. Basically how the sausage is made, if you will."

Q: Did you draw on any real-life politicians?

A: "There are several people that have been on the national stage that we borrowed from for sure. I think the most prevalent example is the Sarah Palin aspect where -- and I don't blame Sarah Palin, I blame it on the human ego -- when somebody chooses you to do something, you start believing (you can do it). If I got hand-picked to do something or was told I was really good at something, I would want to believe it because it sounds nice."

Q: Exactly. You hope that people genuinely think you're qualified ...

A: "I've never thought I was qualified for anything. But the last couple of years people think I'm qualified to act in movies, so I'm running with it! (laughs)"

Q: Do you follow politics in general?

A: "I've paid attention to politics since I was a kid. My uncle (Nick Galifianakis) was a congressman (between 1967 and 1973) and he was involved in a very unfair campaign against him in North Carolina in the '70s. So I'm pretty well aware of past races and elections. When we were filming the movie, all I did was watch political television on both sides ... A lot of these political ads are so ridiculous! They look like they were produced by fourth graders!"

Q: Did you ever think twice about getting into it yourself?

A: "Me? No, no, no. I'm not eloquent enough to be like that. It's a tough world to be involved in. I look at these guys running for president and I don't know how they do it. They must really believe that they can do something or maybe they're just power hungry. I have no idea ... I ran for school president in sixth grade and I lost. I stopped trying after that. My mom forced me to run. I thought I was going to win. I was cocky and it didn't go my way."

Q: Clearly the acting choice worked out for you. You're a go-to guy in comedy for these loveable losers. Do you feel typecast?

A: "My character (in "The Campaign") is different from anything that I've played. I think in the movie-making business, they want to paint you in a corner and re-use you for the thing that you're known best. I can play dumb very well and I play dumb in this one. But it's a different kind of dumb. It was fun to play somebody that's not so vacant."

Q: You're currently shooting "You Are Here," with Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler in North Carolina, where you happen to own a farm.

A: "Yes, I live there part of the time, so to be on my farm and commute to work is the greatest."

Q: Is farmland important to you?

A: "A few years ago I had this real craving to nurture land and grow things. I get a big kick out of watching my grapes and blueberries grow (laughs). The idea is to figure out how to feed my family and myself off the farm."

Q: And how's that going?

A: "When you don't know what you're doing, it takes a lot of work! But it's very rewarding."

Q: This fall, you're reprising your role as Alan in a third "Hangover." Got any clues as to what will be the boys' next adventure?

A: "Yeah, I have a little bit of a clue, but we're tight-lipped about that."

Q: Is there an end in sight? Or is this an infinite franchise?

A: "This is the last one. We're all in agreement that this is it. We're doing a third one to make a conclusion."

(Reporting by Zorianna Kit, editing by Jill Serjeant, desking by Gary Crosse)

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