Rob Corddry talks about zombie comedy “Warm Bodies” “Children’s Hospital” and “Arrested Development”

Rob Corddry gets zombified in "Warm Bodies," which hits theaters on February 1st.

Rob Corddry is more than happy playing the best friend in romantic comedies, especially if it involves being a flesh-eating zombie. For “Warm Bodies,” takes on the task of dispensing romantic advice to his lovelorn pal (Nicholas Hoult) without the help of verbal communication.

In the romantic comedy world, the best friend character is a pretty familiar role. How different is it when you only have four or five actual words of dialogue in the entire movie?

Before I auditioned for this, somebody said, “Are you sick of playing best friends all the time?” And I was like, “No.” I wouldn’t play the same one over and over again, but I would play shades of that stock character for the rest of my life. Because it’s got everything, you know what I mean? You’re often the comic relief, you have your own moments — usually, in good ones, in good stories — you have your own either comeuppance or realization. But this one is like, it doesn’t get much of a different shade of that character than this, so it was even more attractive to me.

Your bar “conversation” with Nicholas, with no words, was great. I think I’ve seen improv exercises like that.
Oh God. Yeah, I’ve suffered through some myself. This sounds like a brag, but it’s very funny, actually. I pitched that conversation taking place at an airport bar, and [director] Jonathan [Levine] was like, “That’s actually a good idea.” We were at dinner or something and he got on the phone. I’d forgotten about it, and then about 10 minutes later he goes, “They’re going to see if they can build the airport bar. I like that idea. By the way, that’s a $25,000 idea.” (laughs) You just cost the production $25,000 with this whim!

How much of a challenge is improvising without the use of words?

I didn’t find it a different challenge. Improv should only be a tool and not something that you abuse willy-nilly. Because if you’re doing a script it’s because you really like the script and you like the words, and it’s not yours to, like, make better somehow. As a matter of fact, I was never the fastest improviser on my team or whatever. But I was young, so I just thought I was bad. I wish I were doing it now, because you recognize it’s like a team and everybody’s got their job to do. It’s like “Moneyball,” but for improv.

I don’t think anyone would stop you if you wanted to do improv now.

Really? You think I could get on? (laughs) The only people who would stop me are my wife and kids, I think. Sometimes I’m asked to do shows with my buddies who still do it once in a while, whether they have kids or not, and they’ll be like, “Yeah, the show’s at 11.” Make the show at 7:30 and I’ll do it. I need sleep.

Keeping busy on TV

Rob Corddry still has plenty of work on the small screen to keep him occupied. After getting his start on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Corddry has had memorable recurring guest spots on “Arrested Development,” “Community” and “Happy Endings.” And his own creation, the twisted comic soap opera, “Childrens Hospital,” is set to premiere its fifth season later this year on Adult Swim.

At the end of last season on “Childrens Hospital,” you killed off your character, Blake, as well as Cutter Spindell, the actor who plays him. Are you going to be in the new season?
Thank you so much for asking that. I thought no one was paying attention whatsoever. I am in it. My character returns the first episode, we’ve already shot it. Blake will be in the season, and he is played by Cutter’s twin brother, Rory. Not as autistic as Cutter is, and I think he has hair.

Do you still have to put on the John Wayne Gacy makeup?
Do you know that I’ve been told by Adult Swim not to say… that name? You can totally print that. Like… no comment? (laughs) It’s the same character.

Are you popping up again on the new “Arrested Development” episodes?
I don’t know, I think they’re done shooting. There was a rumor years ago that when they brought that show back — or if they did the movie — every character that was ever in it was going to be in it somehow, and I was like, “Oh that’s awesome, and also a terrible idea. Good luck building a story about that.”


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