In “Reality,” Jon Heder plays a cooking show host who finds that his rat costume is making him itch. Let’s start over again: “Reality” is the latest block of absurdity from DJ-turned-filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, whose debut feature was the killer tire movie “Rubber,” which wasn’t a horror film about a killer tire but an eccentric philosophical comedy that sent up the act of watching ridiculous movies like it. “Reality” is an even stranger movie, with several characters with silly habits (one is trying to make a movie about killer TVs, another has dreams of him riding around a jeep in a dress, etc.) who eventually find their worlds becoming parts of dreams. It’s an odd film to watch and, as per Heder, one to make too.
We can’t really discuss what really motivates your character, because what motivates your character is really simple: the rat costume he wears is making him itch.
My character just jumps out of the gate with an extremely simple dilemma. Eventually he think he and [the character played by Alain Chabat] are the same person. So it jumps into this existential situation. It seems so absurd, but you’re playing it in a very monotone way. You’re not in a normal world, but it feels normal and it’s played normal.
That’s kind of like “Napoleon Dynamite”: he doesn’t think he’s in a comedy. He thinks he’s in a drama.
For sure. We thought it was funny, but it was funny because he was just very sincere. You take it seriously and trust the comedy will come. That’s why you get great comedic performances out of dramatic actors. Every now and then you see a dramatic actor trying to be funny, and that’s when it can hurt. But when they commit to a character and fleshing that character out, that’s when it scores.
How did you first encounter Dupieux?
Before I met him I had watched “Rubber.” And I was extremely confused. I was like, “OK, that’s not quite the horror film I thought it was going to be.” When I read “Reality” I was very much prepared for unconventional storytelling and messing with the linear plot — not just playing it non-linerally, but messing within a story. But it’s very simply laid-out. It sounds confusing, but it doesn’t’ really get that confusing. It’s actually rather easy to follow.