They describe it as '"Dexter" meets "Dumb and Dumber," and it's inspired by a guy Undergaro was friends with, never realizing he was a sociopath. They cast it with unknowns from The Groundlings and Improv Olympics.
Menounos credits Undergaro with discovering her 15 years ago, just as he "discovered" Beth Behrs (pre-"2 Broke Girls"), whom he cast in the film without ever seeing her act. They also managed to line up some bigger names, like Christopher Lloyd, but on such a small movie, everyone, even Kathie Lee Gifford, pitched in to get it made.
Moviefone: You actually knew a serial killer?
Keven Undergaro: No, he wasn't a serial killer; he was a sociopath and he committed a bunch of heinous crimes and he's still in jail for it, but I didn't know that at the time. So that's what kind of gave me the idea to make the movie. I thought we were friends and by the end of it, he was carted away for life, I was like, "Oh."
Are you still in touch with him?
Maria Menounos: I will not allow that.
Undergaro: Actually, I get emails every now and again. He has traced the movie and he's always asked if it's based on him and I haven't responded.
So, it's not based on any real crimes?
Undergaro: No. Just the fact that you think someone is a little quirky and kind of off and then later you find out...
Menounos: ... they're really off.
How hard is it to make serial killers funny?
Undergaro: The characters are so incredibly stupid that they don't even realize they're serial killers. We had the most colorful costumes and that almost gives it a surreal nature. So when people have seen the movie, no one's ever called on the fact that they're serial killers. It's more like watching "Dumb and Dumber."
One critic even called it "Dexter" meets "Dumb and Dumber."
Undergaro: Yeah, that was great, but it really is accurate.
Menounos: That's what I always thought, so when the critic said it, I literally was like "Hallelujah!" that's exactly what I wanted to hear, because that is the best description of it.
Maria, how did you get involved with the project?
Menounos: Keven wrote the script and just put it on my desk one day. I read it and thought it was hilarious. We bought a property back east on 60 acres knowing we were going to start filming movies back there and so this was the perfect one to start with.
Undergaro: It was only a three- or four-week shoot, and it was all timed to Maria's schedule. At that time she was doing "The Today Show," "Nightly News," and "Access." And now she's hosting "Extra," so she really has to be in LA on set every day. But it's our passion. It's how we met. This was such a labor of love.
How about Beth Behrs?
Menounos: Keven actually discovered her. He has a real knack for it. He's a genius for knowing someone has "it" before they even know they have it. Like with me, I was just a chubby college student who had dreams but didn't know how it would all come together and he put me on the right path and shepherded my career all these years. The same thing with Beth Behrs.
Undergaro: We went to see Joan Rivers and there was Beth working The Geffen. I had a quick interaction while she ripped my ticket. I said, "Tell me you're an actress," and she said, "Well, I'm actually studying and, yeah, that's what I want to do." I said to Maria, "I'm going to put her in 'Serial Buddies.'" I decided to create a role for her and Maria said, "You haven't even read her. You're just going to create a role for her, fly her back to Boston?'" I said, "No, Maria, you've got to trust me on this one.'" And sure enough, she was amazing. She was one of the funniest, if not the funniest people on set. And as soon a she came back, she booked "2 Broke Girls."
You put her to work as a P.A. as well.
Menounos: Yeah, I was in charge of producing the movie. Pretty much everybody, except for the main actors, were living at my parents' house. So I said, "Everyone, it's all hands on deck. It's going to be long days, it's going to be humid and hot and sticky." I told Keven if he was going to take a chance and fly out people for roles I thought could have been cast locally, they really had to go to work. Beth was one of them. It made the movie familial. Everyone felt they were pitching in.
Undergaro: Beth was helping with makeup, carrying stuff. She's someone who's gonna be like Jen Aniston. She's going to be around for a long, long time. By the way, Kathie Lee Gifford, same thing. We shot her at her estate in Connecticut and she told us, "Guys, there is no rush. As long as you guys are willing to put in the hours, I am. We can stay here all night into the morning. And I don't care if I'm only in 15 seconds of this movie. They're going to be the best 15 seconds of the whole movie."
How did you find the leads?
Undergaro: Paul Ashton (who plays one of the killers, Gregory) had about seven years' training in Australia before he even stepped in front of a camera. That's how intense the training is there. He worked with the costume department on his costumes. I think he has 30 or 40 different outfits in the whole movie.
Hal Rudnick (who plays the other killer, Gary) is really big on the improv scene here in LA. He's really well respected. Very quirky and a ton of range. HIs role was tough to cast but when he came in, we said, "Oh, that's the guy."
Artie Lange told me, "I just said no to an Adam Sandler movie, because that's how busy I am, but this is on the East Coast, it's an hour for me, I really want to make this work." Most of his stuff was improv. He went off script but his stuff was amazing.
Todd Wilson does one of the biggest radio shows in the country and he's like a mini John Candy. Really, really talented young actor. He came out of Improv Olympics.
Who do you play, Maria?
Menounos: I play one of the sorority girls with Beth. She's the naive sweet one and I'm...
Undergaro: ...the bitchy one. That was a stretch.
Menounos: Shut up!
Undergaro: I always put her in my movies because she's so talented.
Menounos: And because I sleep with him.
Undergaro: Yeah, she sleeps with the director.
"Adventures of Serial Buddies" hits VOD on May 29.