Interview: Matt Walsh on being pelted by golfball-sized hail for 'Into the Storm'

"Into the Storm" star Matt Walsh talks about doing crazy stunts instead of comedy and loving the tailor-made insults written for him on "Veep."

Matt Walsh takes a break from comedy to do the severe weather thriller "Into the Storm." Credit: Getty Images Matt Walsh takes a break from comedy to do the severe weather thriller "Into the Storm."
Credit: Getty Images

 

It seems strange for an effects-heavy movie like “Into the Storm” to include an actor like Matt Walsh — a comedy guy, one of the original members of Uprights Citizen Brigade, currently comfortably buffoonish Mike McLintock on “Veep.” It was weird for him too, even if it was a challenge he strangely enjoyed.

 

“I always like stunts. “I always try to do stunts in comedy. So I’ve always felt like an action movie would be a blast,” he confesses. In the film — about a tornado that rips through God’s Country — he plays the tyrannical head of a documentary TV crew trying to get the perfect shot with their giant truck. “I get to drive a kickass vehicle. And it seemed a good arc for a character who seems like a curmudgeon to get some redemption.”

 

Though the tornado itself was obviously not real, as an actor he wasn’t far from the real thing. “They had 400 mph fans blowing at us and people throwing leaves and sticks into the wind, or pelting us with golfball-sized hailstones,” he remembers.

 

For a large stretch of the film, he and much of the cast have to hang in a sewer while the storm rages outside. “They had these towers that just ran cold water on us. You stayed wet for the rest of the day. We were in the sewers for weeks, where it was windy and dusty. Then we lived in a restaurant during the rest of the day — sort of like the Ninja Turtles.”

Matt Walsh plays the curmudgeonly head of a weather documentary crew in "Into the Storm." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures Matt Walsh plays the curmudgeonly head of a weather documentary crew in "Into the Storm."
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Walsh doesn’t feel his character, while unpleasant and cruel, is a full-on monster. “I felt like I understood the guy. He’s been on the road for years. I understood the stresses of his life,” he says. “These crews operate like a military unit. He has to dispatch several vehicles during the storm and make sure everyone is safe, and make sure everyone’s getting the shots. He has to get this because his career’s on the line.”

Walsh is no stranger to this kind of extreme weather. “I grew up in Chicago, and we had tornado drills in school every summer,” he remembers. He remembers seeing tornados rip through neighboring towns. “You hear that siren. There’s a bad electricity in the air.”

“Into the Storm” was something Walsh shot while on break from his main gig, which is HBO’s hyper-profane government satire “Veep.” Like everyone in the cast, Walsh’s character is a regular target for tailor-made insults, some of them about his own physical appearance. Not that he ever takes offense. “The first day we get the new scripts, the first thing I look for is the awfulest thing they’ve written about me. They’re always really funny.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
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