A Minute With: Jason Sudeikis getting a "Hall Pass"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jason Sudeikis is best known for making audiences laugh on the TV sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” with his overzealous, track suit wearing dancer and his impersonation of U.S. vice president Joe Biden, among many characters.

This Friday, the 35-year-old stars in new film comedy “Hall Pass,” playing one of two married men, Fred and Rick (played by Owen Wilson) whose wives grant them a week off from marriage to do whatever they want. However, the men quickly discover the single life is not exactly how they envisioned it. Sudeikis sat down with Reuters to talk about the movie and his career.

Q: Fred and Rick love their wives, but relish having this ‘hall pass.’ What’s your take on marriage and relationships?

A: “I believe in marriage, having been married (to ‘30 Rock’ writer/producer Kay Cannon). We were together nine years, married for four and then separated in 2008. The divorce was finalized during the shooting of this movie.”

Q: How did that affect your work on the film?

A: “Understanding the power and commitment and the peaks and valleys of marriage absolutely informed the choices I made with my character. Especially emotionally toward the end where he potentially loses his wife. But Fred’s story is completely different from my personal situation. There’s more differences than similarities.”

Q: “Do you feel a bit of an expert given that your personal life and the movie’s themes sort of converged?

A: “I have to accept the fact I’ll never know it all. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without that relationship. Each experience I go through -- marriage, my public life, my personal life -- I’m learning as I go.”

Q: You’ve had supporting roles in films like “The Bounty Hunter” and “Going the Distance.” But “Hall Pass” is your first lead role. How does it feel?

A: “I understand the potential of it. And when Owen signed on, I was like, ‘That guy knows what he’s doing. He’ll make me look good! (laughs).”

Q: You and Owen spend practically the entire movie together. What was your first encounter like?

A: “I remember our first phone call. I was staying at a hotel (in Los Angeles) and getting ready to leave for dinner when Owen called me on the hotel phone. I said, ‘Give me your cell phone number and I’ll call you right back from the car.’ He goes, ‘Why don’t you give my your cell phone number and I’ll call you right back?’ I go, ‘Ooh, mysterious, I love it!’ And he started laughing. That’s when I knew we’d be good.”

Q: And you get your own solo promotional poster with “Hall Pass.” How great is that?

A: “It’s neat to have my friends and family be so excited about seeing my poster up in Times Square. But I sort of went through that a couple of summers ago because a lot of my friends thought I was in ‘The Hangover’ poster, but it was Ed Helms (laughs). My friends made that movie a lot of money because they all thought they were coming out to support me!”

Q: You had to juggle “Hall Pass” and “SNL” simultaneously, and you just wrapped the movie “Horrible Bosses” with Jason Bateman. How do you carve out a film career while on TV.

A: “It’s a matter of using your summers effectively. Our ‘school year’ as we call it on the show, is basically September to May and then we look for summer jobs. Instead of life guarding or mowing lawns, we try to do movies.”

Q: How much longer will you be on the show?

A: I signed on for seven years. I’m in my sixth now. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to do sketch comedy for 15 years. You can only have so many ideas. I’d like to extend my career a little bit into different genres. I’d love to do a drama.”

Q: What are you favorite “SNL” characters?

A: “I love those ESPN guys that Will Forte and I did last year. It’s fun watching them because I never get to see what Will is doing next to me when we perform them. Will and I also do (the characters) Jon Bovi who sing opposite lyrics to Bon Jovi songs. That’s a movie idea we should explore. Or a television series. We’ll see.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte