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Fred WillardFred Willard's acting career has spanned some five decades and he's played just about every kind of role in every medium -- from children's television to iconic Christopher Guest movies to screwball comedies to horror films.

Willard is the one actor who, it seems, has been in literally everything.

It doesn't hurt that he's also incredibly charming and sweet. His latest TV turn as the Dunphy family grandfather on the hit sitcom 'Modern Family' had him crying over the potential loss of his favorite pooch. Adorable!

Willard spoke with Moviefone about facing the paparazzi with Steve Buscemi on the set of 'Youth in Revolt,' the role he most gets recognized for (and no, it's not a Guest film) and the one director he's dying to work with. Fred WillardFred Willard's acting career has spanned some five decades and he's played just about every kind of role in every medium -- from children's television to iconic Christopher Guest movies to screwball comedies to horror films.

Willard is the one actor who, it seems, has been in literally everything.

It doesn't hurt that he's also incredibly charming and sweet. His latest TV turn as the Dunphy family grandfather on the hit sitcom 'Modern Family' had him crying over the potential loss of his favorite pooch. Adorable!

Willard spoke with Moviefone about facing the paparazzi with Steve Buscemi on the set of 'Youth in Revolt,' the role he most gets recognized for (and no, it's not a Guest film) and the one director he's dying to work with.

So you spend a lot of time shirtless in 'Youth in Revolt.' Did you do anything to prepare for that?
[Laughs] Yes, I did. We did this in Birmingham, Michigan, and it was the middle of the summer and I have to have my shirt off in the truck. I tried to sit out in the sun and get a tan. Because they don't seem to put body makeup on anymore. Usually when I do something, you go in and they put makeup on your face, and then your arms, your hands, but they don't seem to do that anymore and I didn't want to go in and be the pale, white guy. So I did spend some time sitting in the sun. Not too much! Because we've found out that sun is not that good for you like everything else we thought was good for us years ago -- milk, steak, bacon.

You also spend a lot of time in this movie on psychedelic mushrooms.

Yeah. I spent no time preparing for that. I've never been into any drugs, so I just played it like I was.

Justin Long and Fred WillardThat scene had you and Justin Long and Steve Buscemi -- what was it like working with them?

I found Justin to have a very good sense of humor; he tells some very funny stories. Steve Buscemi, I would joke with him on the set and I found he was really into his character. We stayed at the same hotel and we would get out of the car at the hotel and there'd be the autograph hunters and photographers waiting and they seemed to know when we were wrapping and getting back to our rooms. He didn't seem to like that. I did. I would always go up to them because there weren't that many of them. There'd be six or seven guys waiting at midnight or one in the morning.

Steve didn't like his picture taken. I said, "Why not?" He said, "Because then they develop the picture and come back the next day and want you to sign it." It was also funny because we all had hotel rooms with balconies and his was right over the street and he said, "I can't even go out on my balcony because they'll look up and see what room I'm in." So he was a little more reclusive than I was there, but he just did some wonderful stuff and I got to be in the scenes with him. And Zach Galifianakis is in it. I've known Zach for years. I was on his TV show. I didn't do a scene with him, but I spent some time with him on the set.

A lot of times, you're only in a film for a very short scene, but you always seem to make an impression. How do you do that?
That's a good question. You have to get a sense of what the character is, the relationship to the other people. The thing to do is is to really know your lines, really come in prepared. And then you can relax. The fun part of acting is when they say, "All right, action!" The rehearsal is when you start interacting with the other actors, and if you know your lines and you know what to do, you can kind of relax and get into the little aspects of it, the little side things, the attitude. When the time comes up to ad-lib, you can say a little something so that the ad-lib is in character and fitting with the movie. I've also found a lot of times, especially when doing the Christopher Guest movies, you'd come on the set and the director or someone would say, "Look, ah, just forget the lines. Just say whatever you want." That's not much fun to me because suddenly you're writing a script and then suddenly the pressure is on you to come up with brilliant, goofy stuff. I would prefer to have a script that someone sat down and wrote and then if they say, "If you want to add something or change something," then that's comfortable. But not to say, "Don't pay any attention to what's written, just go ahead and wing it." Because I think even like if you're Robin Williams, you still tend to be funny, but if you get away from the script, you go down the wrong alley.

Fred WillardWhat's the one thing people on the street tell you they recognize you from the most?
Two things. One is not surprising. One is 'Best In Show,' the Christopher Guest movie. An awful lot of people remember me on a show I did called 'Fernwood 2 Night,' which I did with Martin Mull years ago.

Right! Is that ever going to come out on DVD?
Yeah, people ask that and I don't know whether it is or not. People remember the show because several years (after it originally aired) it came out on Nick at Nite, and so people remember it from that. And strangely enough, a lot of people remember me from a movie I did called 'How High.' I worked with two guys from a group called the Wu-Tang Clan. I played the chancellor of Harvard and people will just say, "Hey! Were you that guy in 'How High'?" So I just watched it the other day and it's a very funny movie. The guys -- who are not really actors, they're singers -- just did a great job. A really wonderful job.

Speaking of Christopher Guest, do you have anything coming up with him?
I'm sure he does. I'm sure he's coming up with something now. But I don't know. I don't ever hear until I get a phone call. First, I hear a rumor that he's doing a movie and I think, "Oh jeez, I'm not going to be included," but then there's a phone call from him. The phone call.

Wait, come on. Are you serious? After all this time, you think he wouldn't include you?
You never can tell! You never can tell in this business, you know. If there's a situation that would include my character, I'd like to think he would have me in. Yeah.

Fred WillardYour career is all over the map. What do you think it is about you that makes you so versatile?
Yeah, I think it's because I've never done anything that really types me like one definite character, like, "OK, it's a Fred Willard part." I think I've done several things, some that are kind of serious, some that are wacky. I've played the president of the United States in kind of a serious mode and in kind of a funny mode. I've played announcers. I think I can kind of do comedy and do it kind of straight, so it's humorous, it's not over the top so people are like, "Oh, this is a wacky part. Let's get Fred," or "This is a heavily dramatic part. Let's get Fred," or "It's a murderer. Let's get Fred to play a crazy." So I think there's a middle ground in that. Luckily, I work with people who are pretty good, like Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy and Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd, who are the producers of 'Modern Family' and Kelsey Grammer. I get along well with all of them. I think, a lot of times in this business, people like to work with someone they've worked with before. I just count myself lucky. Every time I do something, I say, "Oh, this might be the last one, so this'll be fun. Let me go in and do it." I just welcome anything they offer if I think it's a good role.

What's a role you haven't done that you wish someone would cast you as?

Oh, let's see. I'd like to play a cowboy, a Western, if I didn't have to get on a horse. I've had to ride a horse in movies and I said to myself, "I'll never get on a horse again." They're dangerous. I was in a movie called 'Sodbusters' and it was directed by Eugene Levy. It was a spoof on the movie 'Shane' and I was in it with Kris Kristofferson, who had ridden horses, you know, he's a cowboy, he's real Western. I saw him, he got his spurs caught in the saddle of the horse and the horse tried to buck him off like you see in a rodeo. I said, "Oh my God, if they can do that to Kris ..." Anyway, I'd also like to do a baseball movie. I'd be ... I don't know what I'd be, the manager or something because I love baseball. I think I'd like to be in an Albert Brooks movie and oh! Oh! Woody Allen. I've always wanted to be in a Woody Allen movie. I like the stuff he does. From what I've read about him, I like the way he works. I would like to do the, you know, just the come in, set up a camera, do a scene. That's what I like. Anything in a Woody Allen movie.

Fred WillardI'm surprised you haven't worked with Woody Allen yet.
Well, he's a New York guy. I'm out here in L.A. Maybe someday. We did a series called 'DC Follies' about 10 years ago where I played the bartender in a Washington bar and all the characters were life-size puppets and one of them was a Woody Allen puppet and I thought, "Well maybe Woody will see this and then say, 'Hey, who's playing the bartender. Oh, that's Fred Willard!'" But I haven't heard.

A friend of mine is a huge 'Roseanne' fan and he wanted me to ask you about being one of the first visible gay characters on television. Do you think you'd ever play a gay character again?

Yes! It was the first gay wedding on TV. You know, what I tried to do when we did the wedding scene, I said, "I'm not going to play the cliche character." I tried to play it straight, but as the episodes went on, they wrote my character a little more flamboyant. The nicest thing about it was I would run into people in the gay community who would come up to me and say, "Fred, we really enjoyed how you portrayed the gay characters." So that was kind of a notable ... kind of a proud one. I don't think we were over-the-top and I don't think we were too far off. I would do it again in a minute, sure. There's so many levels in the playing of that sort of role. There's just so many rich levels you can get into.

'Youth In Revolt' is out on Blu-Ray and DVD June 15. Rent or buy it now.