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Reggie Watts on 'Creative Control' and the 'underdog' 'Late Late Show'

The musician and comic talks about a new movie about the scariness of tech and trying to find creative uses for gadgets.

In the new indie “Creative Control," Reggie Watts plays “Reggie Watts.” Like the real Watts, his character is a musician and comic, one considered cool enough to co-create and star in a hot new ad campaign. That often happens to Watts himself, who’s done commercials in addition to his free-form solo stage shows (such as 2010’s “Why S— So Crazy?”), co-starring on the “Comedy Bang! Bang!” TV show and his current stint: leading the house band on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

There’s always a serious side to Watts’ goofiness, though “Creative Control” is full-on dark. It imagines a near future in which a company has created a new and improved twist on the Google Glass — one that actually looks like a pair of glasses. The film follows an ad exec (played by Benjamin Dickinson, who also directed and co-wrote) as he employs it surreptitiously, using it to create a digital version of his friend’s new girlfriend (Alexia Rasmussen). For Watts, this touches on a lot of his own interests in — and issues with — how we use tech.

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You’ve done ad campaigns before. What have your experiences been like, especially compared to the one in “Creative Control”?
They’re jobs, obviously, and ways to generate an income. But I try to be careful about who I associate myself with. My manager lets them know that I like to work a certain way, and what you’re getting is this person — this is what he’s capable of doing and just be aware of that when you’re hiring him. That usually tends to work, and I end up doing things I like to do. The more that I do under those circumstances the easier it becomes, because people have this body of work and they can see what I do. There have been moments when people say, “Oh, you should do this,” and I’m just not feeling that.

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“Creative Control” seems to really speak to some of your own interests. Your use of tech, for instance, isn’t just being a slave to it. You’ve found creative ways to use gadgets.
Technology is a tool. Technology is there to serve humans. When technology becomes smarter and more social, we don’t notice the weird shift, and we end up working for our technology, responding to every alert technology gives us. I’m not a big fan of that. That’s not why I like technology. I like technology because when it’s designed well it appeals on an aesthetic level and a creative level, instead of creating frustration and disappointment and addiction. I’m always going to be addicted to technology insofar as I love design and I love what technology can do. But that’s the limit of my addiction.

The glasses here are a lot like Google Glasses, only they actually work well.
They don’t look like a piece of crap on your face with a camera that’s intimidating to people. Now it’s just a pair of glasses. They’re integrated stylistically into everyday usage. That’s exciting to see the design of that, the form factor, and it’s beautiful. But projecting how that will affect us on a societal level, that’s hard to say. It’s really a tool, so it depends on how people use it. You’re either going to use it in a creative way that’s transparent, where everyone knows what you’re doing. Or you’re going to use it in a nefarious way, like sampling people when they’re not looking or doing gross things, like the characters in this movie.

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The characters in this movie definitely use it in nefarious ways, but it’s important to note that this could be used for good. Do you always feel partially optimistic about new tech?
Any time I receive or read about or invest in a piece of technology, I want to interact with it, to see if it’s good. Was the vision realized? Do they know what they have and what it can do? I like figuring out things they didn’t plan on it doing.

You’ve often talked about not caring what audiences think and just doing what you do. How have you adjusted to the “Late Late Show”? That’s perhaps an even bigger audience than you’ve ever had.
I haven’t really noticed too much of a change, really, actually. Of all the late night talk shows, at least on the networks, we’re the most underdog-ish. That’s kind of cool. I like that feeling of being the Bad News Bears of late night.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
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