Zach Galifianakis might be best known for his role in The Hangover, but he’s been a fascinatingly original comedic voice in stand up for years. His act typically involves playing gentle music on a piano while delivering absurd non-sequiturs like, “My New Year’s resolution was to stop saying ‘You go girl’ to myself,” and occasionally berating the crowd like a crazy person.
He has long played with the idea that he’s insane, so it should come as no surprise that his latest role is a hilarious and surprisingly dramatic turn as a psych ward patient in It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
“I’ve always been fascinated by that,” Galifianakis told Metro. “I think that a lot of people put on the front that everything is going OK, but I feel that the human mind can go completely crazy at any minute.”
The delicate balance Galifianakis walks between eccentricity and comedic insanity has always been central to his work. This impressive new performance comes as a result of being able to explore mental illness more thoroughly than ever before.
“I actually did research and went to a couple of mental institutions,” revealed Galifianakis. “I’ve never really prepared for anything in my life, but for this it was important to see the real thing.”
Fortunately, fans of the comedian needn’t be concerned that he’s become a dramatic actor. Co-directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Half Nelson) let Galifianakis improvise and infuse the role with his unique sense of humour, a freedom he considers vital.
“Some writers don’t want you to mess with their words and I totally understand that. But they gave more freedom which is important because, a) I can’t remember a lot of lines, and b) quite frankly, not this script, but most of the scripts in the movie business are terrible. People are always saying, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a movie.’ Trust me, just write it because you’d be amazed by what gets through the pipeline.”