Matthew Lillard is not afraid to admit how little he got paid to star in “The Descendants.” The actor, known primarily for his roles in 1996’s “Scream” and several “Scooby Doo” movies and television shows, may be working on the regular, but he doesn’t want anyone thinking the average actor is making big bucks.
“The amount of days you work, as a successful actor, isn’t very many and if you’re doing a movie like this, you get less than a union teacher — well, maybe not less,” he says. “It’s 1,600 dollars for five days a week, and then you have to pay taxes on top of that, plus 10 percent to management and 10 percent to an agent, so 1,600 dollars for a week isn’t that much money.”
That’s a gutsy statement to make during a recession, but perhaps Lillard is so blinded by his enthusiasm for this Alexander Payne film he’s promoting, he’s just lost his filter. Lillard enthuses about the director, who also has “Sideways” and “Election” to his credit.
“He’s one of the most pre-eminent filmmakers in the world right now,” Lillard says. “As a leader, he knows exactly where he’s going and that’s all that you can ever ask for as an actor. There’s a guy you’d run into a wall for a hundred times because he knows what he wants and where he’s going.”
Perhaps Lillard needed to trust in his director the most out of all of the actors in the film because he
doesn’t exactly play a likeable guy here. The film is about a Hawaiian land baron, Matt King (George Clooney), who tries to reconnect with his children after a water skiing accident renders his wife comatose. King learns that his wife had been having an affair with a local real estate agent who has a wife and kids of his own. And yes, that’d be Lillard’s character.
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But given that the film is already getting great buzz, he’s hoping it’ll be the career-reviver he needs.
“There’s no doubt that I would love more work,” he says. “I got this job on my 40th birthday. [Before that] we had a big house, and big cars and 'Scooby Doo' money. [We] had to have it completely downsized.”
Lillard on co-star George Clooney
Q. George Clooney is known for pulling pranks on the set of his films. Did he do that during the filming of “The Descendants”?
A. He turned 50. That was his prank. See, if he came and did these [junkets] he could defend himself, but he doesn’t do them so… But he had his 50th while he was there.
Q. How was working with him?
A. Clooney turns in, I think, personally, one of the great performances of his career. He’s one of quintessential most beautiful leading men in the world and he plays the most schlubby dude, a dork.