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Rob Schneider on Why It Took So Long To Reveal His Dramatic Side in Indie Noir ‘Dead Wrong’

We all know Rob Schneider from Saturday Night Live and all the comedies he’s done over the last three decades. The Hot Chick, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and its sequel, The Animal and of course, his numerous collaborations with Adam Sandler.

Like his buddy, Schneider has made a career out of being funny. But also like Sandler, Schneider has a dramatic side fighting to get out. Now, with his new movie, the film noir Dead Wrong (available on VOD as of Tuesday, May 21) he finally gets to show that side, and it’s rather impressive.

Playing a sleazy lawyer who gets involved with the wrong client, Schneider is a standout in the surprisingly effective indie. He’s hoping that this will be the start of something new in his career, and with this performance, he’s off to a pretty good start. He spoke to us from his home in Arizona.

Your performance in Dead Wrong is not the kind of thing I think most people expect from you.

Thank you. The thing about it was my friend Peter Riegert, who was in Animal House and Local Hero. I love that movie. I’ve been dying to get a movie like that my whole career. We worked with the same French director years ago and the guy said, “If you are a French actor and you do comedy, the American audience wants to see you do a period piece.”

They want to see you do something else. But in American culture, I just think they want you to do the same thing, and it’s hard to break out of it.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that you should’ve taken a drama 15 or 20 years ago, but if the comedic roles keep coming your way, that’s where the paychecks are.

Exactly. And truthfully, a lot of it is your position in show business. Peter said the same thing. We were talking about the frustrations of acting and show business, and he said, “You do realize that you wanted to make your living in the most elitist art form that exists.”

The thing is if you’re a big hit comedy actor, that pays better than most dramas. I worked with William H. Macy in Down Periscope. He had a small role in that. He’s a great actor and I would even tell him, “Man, you’re a great actor.”

I ran into him a few years later, after his Fargo success, and I said, “You must be killing it.” He said, “Dude, do you know I don’t make anywhere near the money you make?” Anywhere near it? Are you kidding me?

He said, “You get all the accolades you want, but at a certain point, you want to eat. You want to get paid.” I didn’t realize that. So, if you do get an interesting role, you make the most of it, and I thought this was that role.

So, what you’re saying is, thanks to comedy, you could afford to slum it in a little indie where you could stretch a little.

(Laughs) Exactly. A little bit, yeah. Also, there wasn’t the pressure of a big movie.

One of the things I like about the role is that your character Ethan Boggs is a sleazy lawyer, and yet there is a real morality there. He’s doing this thing out of necessity, but if he can find a way out, he still thinks he can redeem himself. That’s not something you see very often in a movie like this.

Absolutely. You always are rooting for yourself, and you’re never giving up. It’s always about winning. I did a prison movie years ago called Big Stan. We shot it in an actual prison. We’re up in Stockton, and most of the people who were in the movie were former felons.

None of them saw themselves as guilty. All of them thought of themselves as they were wronged. You’ve got to root for yourself, and then the audience can root for you, no matter how horrible it is.

You’ve done pretty well playing comedies over the years. But this feels like a really interesting step for you. Do you think it’s something you want to pursue?

Absolutely. I’d love it.

I mean, Adam Sandler, I’ve never seen him more excited and more nervous than when he had me watch this movie Good Time. The Safdie Brothers made that and then he did Uncut Gems with them, and he was great at it. I felt like he was able to lose himself, and that’s wonderful.

Absolutely, I would love to. I hope I get offered some more interesting things like this. It would be great.

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