Charlie Day is probably best known as the manic oddball in "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," an FX comedy series whose cast is comprised mostly of manic oddballs.
But Day is stepping out into the spotlight in a pair of monstrous movies: in Disney/Pixar's furry prequel "Monsters University," where he plays Art, a New Age philosophy major who had the body of a slinky and who gets all the best lines. Then, come this Friday, you'll be able to see Day in Guillermo del Toro's monster mash "Pacific Rim."
In the jaw-dropping sci-fi adventure, Day plays a scientist who is very close to unlocking the secrets of the kaiju: giant, towering monsters that have escaped from an inter-dimensional portal to wreak all sorts of costly, deadly havoc on mankind.
We got a chance to speak to the star about what it was like working for del Toro, how hard it was to imagine monsters that simply weren't there, and what the status of the "Horrible Bosses" sequel is.
Moviefone: How did you get involved with "Pacific Rim?" Did Guillermo just call you out of the blue?
Day: Yeah, he kind of did. Lucky for me, he's a huge fan of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." He loves the show, he's seen every episode, and he desperately wanted to do a cameo on it -- he's in an episode in the eighth season as Pappy McPoyle. But yeah, Guillermo called me. I guess he'd seen an episode where I was killing rats and I had been haunted by the killing of the rats, and he was thinking about a scene in this movie where I'm haunted by seeing the monsters' world and he put two and two together and he gave me the part.
Is he one of those guys who you dreamt of working with?
I hadn't dreamt of working with him because it had never occurred to me. I loved "Pan's Labyrinth." In my opinion, it's a perfect movie. It's one of the best movies I've seen. But it just hadn't occurred to me. So I was thrilled to do it.
Was there any trepidation on your part in accepting a role like this that tips more towards the dramatic?
I wasn't too worried. First of all, I knew I was in really good hands with Guillermo. And I had done a lot of theater before "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and I had primarily done dramas or commercials or whatever I could get. So it was nice to get the opportunity to go back and do something that was funny at times but also serious at times.
Your chemistry with Ron Perlman is one of the highlights of the movie. Can you talk about working with him?
It wasn't what I was expecting at all. He's such a large and intimidating guy and he's got a face that the camera just loves and he's known for playing so many tough guys and bad guys. And what I didn't know is that he's just a giant ham; he's the funniest guy, such a jokester. Between him and Guillermo, they're always joking around. I just didn't realize it was going to be as funny as it was. We really had a good time working together.
What surprised you the most when you finally got to watch the movie, since obviously when you're filming there are no monsters or robots around?
There were no monsters or robots because of the scale but there were these incredibly elaborate sets. I didn't have to do too much imagining of things. I would be running through the streets with 500 extras and they were screaming and crying and the environments were very real. Now maybe in the course of that scene I would have to turn and look at something and be frightened but by the time I had to do that look I was already in such an unsettling environment that I was able to emotionally get there quite easily.
What was your favorite set to work on? Perlman's underground black market lair is pretty amazing.
I did love getting the opportunity to have that "Indiana Jones" moment where the sliding door opens and I get to point a finger at Perlman. But I think my favorite set to work on was the underground bunker where I'm hiding out from this kaiju attack. It was so real -- everything from the dripping pipes to the terrified people packed in there to the ceiling that shook and dust came down and the lights are swinging and the ceiling did cave in. It was a really incredible set.
Since you're also in "Monsters University" this year, I am going to put this out there: Charlie Day, King of Summer.
How was working with Pixar?
You know, I was fortunate enough to get two opportunities -- on one hand, with Guillermo, a man who is exceptional, and on the other hand, with Pixar, a company that is exceptional. You know Pixar doesn't make bad movies. And if there are any of them that are critiqued it's usually against their other movies and not movies in general. They have a formula down that is really effective. And to get to do something that kids can see is nice because I usually don't toil in that area. So it was two fantastic opportunities and both are happening to come out this summer. Truthfully, I'm a lucky guy.
You're in two movies that heavily feature monsters. Were you always into monsters, did you love monsters as a kid, or is this just a complete coincidence?
I think I like monsters as much as the next person likes monsters. I think we're all entertained by monsters but I never had any kind of monsters posters and I didn't sleep in a monster-shaped bed. I have a healthy relationships and it doesn't go beyond that.
Guillermo on the other hand...
He has a slightly unhealthy relationship with monsters but I think for him it's the right mix.
Are you still working on "Horrible Bosses 2" -- is that still happening?
Yeah it's still happening. Basically everyone has agreed to do it. And they've been developing a script and it's all supposed to come together this week. So hopefully I'll be reading something any minute now and knowing whether we have the opportunity to do something funny or whether we're just going to waste everybody's time.
Guillermo has said that he's already started working on "Pacific Rim 2." Has he indicated whether or not you'll be back?
I don't want to give anyone any spoilers as to whether or not I live or die in this movie but if they find a way to bring me back, I'm into it.