Nick Kroll has played a radio host called The Douche (Parks and Recreation), a spin instructor named Tristafé (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and a German foosball enthusiast named Juergen (Community). But in the new movie Adult Beginners, which hits theaters (and iTunes and video on demand) Friday, Kroll plays a character that’s a little less hyperbolic and a little more relatable.
In the film, viewers meet Jake, a failed entrepreneur who moves in with his pregnant sister (Rose Byrne) and her husband (Bobby Cannavale, Byrne’s real-life boyfriend), and becomes a nanny to their young child. The story was inspired by Kroll’s own experience as the youngest of four siblings and uncle to a dozen nieces and nephews. After developing the idea with Mark Duplass, his co-star from The League, he enlisted husband-and-wife team Liz Flahive and Jeff Cox to write the screenplay.
“I wanted to have a female voice in helping to put the script together, because it’s really as much about me as it is about my sister in the movie,” he says. “A lot of movies are written by 30-year-old white guys, and you don’t want your characters all to sound like 30-year-old white guys.”
Fans who know Kroll from his recently retired Comedy Central sketch show Kroll Show, on which he played characters like the tuna-loving Gil Faizon and craft services extraordinaire Fabrice Fabrice, may be surprised by how normal a character Jake is. But Kroll insists that the gulf between Faizon and Jake is not so gaping, after all.
“The goal is to create something that just feels really believable, whether it’s a grounded character in a dramedy or a toilet baby who has been forced into becoming a father himself. How does that guy talk, how does he walk, how does he feel about his mom, how does he feel about his sister,” Kroll explains. “I’m trying to do the same homework regardless.”
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