A stoner and a slacker, Kevin “Pac” Pacalioglu has trouble paying rent, yet has the awesome ability to communicate with ghosts. Tyler Labine stars in Deadbeat, a Hulu original series. With Lionsgate releasing Season 1 of the show on DVD (plus Digital) exclusively at Target this week, I had a chance to chat with Tyler about Deadbeat, the status of the Tucker & Dale vs. Evil sequel, and more.
Kevin “Pac” Pacalioglu has the impressive ability to see and talk with ghosts, and he’s also a stoner and a bit of a slacker. What attracted you to playing this unique take on a medium?
Tyler Labine: The role came to me as an offer through Dakota Pictures, who produced it. They sent me the first four scripts to give me an idea of what the show was going to be like. I think they had eight written. After reading the first four, I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is really funny.’ I think the thing that drew me to it the most was that it’s—I’ve been trying to coin a term—‘high class absurdity’, I’m calling it ‘absurditay.’
Everything about it, from top to bottom, was so unique, and Brett [Konner] and Cody [Heller], who write the show, just had this really awesome, quirky new way of looking at the stoner comedy. I’m quite honestly not a huge fan of stoner comedies because I’m not actually a stoner, but that’s what I thought was so appealing about it: ‘If I’m not a stoner and I think this is really funny, unique and quirky, then I’ll take that challenge.’ It was fun, man, it was really fun.
Many mediums on TV and in movies take themselves very seriously, so it was refreshing to see you instill Pac with a great sense of humor during his paranormal adventures. How did you approach playing a character that takes a unique angle on such a familiar element of supernatural media?
Tyler Labine: That was the hook. I wouldn’t call it a spoof or a lampoon, but we were winking a little bit at the medium genre. We wanted to make fun of that a little bit. And what better way to do that than with a failing upwards character, kind of like Chance the gardener from Being There (1979). He’s just in the wrong place at the right time or in the right place at the wrong time.
It’s not that he isn’t genuinely talented at talking to ghosts, it’s just something he’s done his whole life. But like you said, he just has no idea that that is something you could corrupt. It’s never occurred to him that you could use that to make a really good living and be kind of a crooked asshole. It’s like a curse/gift he’s had his whole life. He’s just tolerating it.
He just wants $25 to pay the dry cleaning bill.
Tyler Labine: Exactly! He doesn’t have any lofty goals. He just wants to be able to get high. Which I guess is kind of lofty for a stoner.
Out of the many ghosts you’ve encountered on the show, who is your favorite or most memorable?
Tyler Labine: The dead model [Alice, played by Justine Lupe] from episode 5 ["Out-Of-Body Issues"]. She wanted to be a model and Jason Biggs’ character [Reed Kelly] was a really despicable, scum-baggy kind of guy. She [Justine] was great, it was really fun to do the Weekend at Bernie’s makeover.
Having had a hand in writing all ten episodes of the first season, Cody Heller and Brett Konner, the creators of the series, were consistently involved with the show’s creative energy and story arcs. Was it refreshing to have them involved as much as they were, and how does that compare to other TV shows that you’ve worked on?
Tyler Labine: Usually your showrunners and your creators, they have their hands on every episode, but Brett and Cody, just the two of them wrote the lion’s share of the show. Only near the end did they end up having a little bit of help because they were so overwhelmed, but most of the show is written by those two beautiful, quirky minds, and it was cool because we formed an alliance—a nice solid bond—right away.
The three of us could collaborate and speak really openly without it being convoluted and having too many people muddying the waters. We decided early on that we would be each other’s allies and just lean on each other. So that was cool, because in network TV there’s a whole protocol of things you have to go through and you have to put in calls to your agents and blah, blah, blah… it’s a big pain in the ass, so this was really cool.
The show has an independent, flexible feel to it that translates through the writing and the performances. Was improvisation encouraged during shooting?
Tyler Labine: Yeah, they really encouraged me to do that, but it’s not quite improv. Because the collaboration was so welcomed and was really a big cog in the grand scheme of things, we would pre-improvise. So we would be jamming on ideas while we were blocking and we would come up with things. So they weren’t 100% improvs but I was always welcome to try new things. But there were a lot of improvs while the cameras were rolling because I can’t help myself. I have a problem. [Laughs.]
The clarity of the vision for the show, more than anything else, that’s what stayed intact so well because of Brett and Cody being so closely involved.
Do you believe in real life ghosts?
Tyler Labine: Yeah, I kind of do. I believe in energy, echoes and vibes, and I believe there may be actual occurrences and things that we can see and feel, but I think the idea that we can communicate with them is bullshit. If that does really exist, it’s such a greater power and question than anyone is asking. I don’t think you can really summon a spirit, that’s hogwash. I do believe there are some energies, I don’t want to say ‘ghosts’ or ‘specters’, but just some certain energies or some type of pain or joy that sticks around after we go.
What direction would you like the characters of Deadbeat to be taken in Season 2? *Season 1 Spoiler Warning*
Tyler Labine: I like the idea of them figuring out a way for Sue [played by Lucy DeVito] and Pac to carry on a romantic relationship. It would be really funny to cut into a scene right after we’ve had sex and never explain how a ghost and an actual living being can have sex. [Laughs.] Just have us lying on bed out of breath.
I really like the end of Season 1, how it got a little more into the mythology and we started linking through lines in the series. And near the end there’s a bit of a sadness in Kevin. He’s an orphan, he’s lonely, he’s a bit of a bum by most people’s standards. It was a neat element of the character that I would like to play with more. We can thread in a little more—I wouldn’t call it drama—but we’ve definitely played with the idea that he’s pretty frustrated and fed-up by the end of Season 1. I want to see a little more of that.
I want to know what the fuck the blob is. I love the idea of serializing the show a little more. Let’s reward the loyal viewers with a bit stronger of a through line throughout the show, instead of a weekly ghost kind of thing, which is awesome too, but it would be really cool to serialize it a little bit more.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010) is widely regarded as a cult horror comedy hit. While you were filming that movie, did you anticipate it turning out to be as special as it has become?
Tyler Labine: No. [Laughs.] It was really a grueling shoot. Alan [Tudyk] and I, we didn’t really interact with the college kids most of the time on set. If you think about it when you watch the movie, the only time we ever interact with them is when one of them dies. We didn’t have any big scenes with them, they just killed themselves in front of us, and I was busy courting Allison [played by Katrina Bowden].
Alan and I had a pretty good idea that the stuff we were doing together, we were like, ‘Oh, that seems pretty funny, I think we’re doing some good stuff here.’ We all loved the script, we were all definitely there because of Eli [Craig] and Morgan’s [Jurgenson] script. I thought it was amazing. There was always that concern like, ‘Okay, this could be tricky, it could end up being really dumb, too.’ It depended on how well we established the tone and walked that line and we had to keep a lot of balls in the air.
When you’re making independent films sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring against you if you keep those balls in the air. From budget to just everything gets in the way when you’re making a film. And you get frustrated and you just sort of lose sight of exactly what you’re making.
Alan and I would be riding in the van at the end of the workday and we’d be like, ‘Ah, fuck, did we get that thing?’ We’d be piecing together the shots of the day. We’d be like, ‘Okay, I think that scene will be good, that one will be good.’ But you get hung up on that stuff too much and you kind of lose sight of the big picture. But that’s what Eli was there for.
When we finally went and watched the first cut, which we got to go see with a few friends, we were all really relieved. Even Eli was like, ‘Yep, we made something awesome.’ The movie speaks for itself. Something happened with that movie that I don’t think any of us really anticipated. For starters, going to Sundance [in 2010]. I don’t think any of us thought, ‘Oh yeah, this weird little comedy horror that we’re making is going to kill it at Sundance or SXSW’ [also in 2010]. Something really magical happened with that movie and now we’re making Part II, so hopefully it will happen again.
Do you have anything on tap that you’re excited about, and what can you tell us about the Tucker & Dale vs. Evil sequel?
Tyler Labine: I can tell you that it’s more than just in the works. It’s being written. Alan and I, and Eli and Morgan, we’re collaborating very closely. The main thing to put out there is that we’ve all very adamantly vocalized the fact that if it’s not up to snuff, we’re not doing it. This is not a money grab. Nobody wants to make a shitty sequel to a movie that was such a surprise hit. We’re not trying to capitalize on it. We want to make sure that whatever script we do end up with is really, really great, but if it’s not, it’s not going to get made. We don’t want to ruin any integrity that the original film has.
If it is good, it’s happening. It’s not even an issue anymore of, ‘Oh, it might happen.’ It’s the first thing on our producers’ slate for 2015. We have some outside dates set for shooting, so it’s coming along. We just don’t have a script yet. [Laughs.] So that will happen soon.
As far as other things on the slate, I just finished a movie that my older brother [Cameron Labine] wrote and directed starring me and Chace Crawford called Mountain Men, which is a two-hander about me and him as brothers who get stranded up on top of this mountain and he breaks his leg and we have to get down off the mountain alive. It’s a cool, intense dramedy.
I’m shooting a movie in Toronto right now called Zoom with Alison Pill and Gael García Bernal. It’s a Brazilian/Canadian co-production and it’s really fucking cool. It’s so crazy. I’ve never done anything like it in my life. It’s such a complicated movie, but it’s really neat and it’s something that nobody’s ever seen me do before.
Obviously I’m looking forward to Season 2 of the show. Lots of other things I’ve got in the works, I’m trying to produce some stuff now, trying to put together a movie right now. There’s lots of stuff, I’ve got a pretty full dance card.
When can we expect to see Season 2 of Deadbeat? Do you start shooting soon?
Tyler Labine: Yeah, we start shooting November 3rd in New York. We have thirteen episodes this year instead of ten, which is always encouraging. I think the goal is to have the show out again around the same time next year in April. We’ll finish mid-February and I think they’ll start putting the show out on Hulu hopefully around the same time again next year, around April.