July 16, 2008

‘SNL’ star Jason Sudeikis returns home to preview his film ‘The Rocker’


The Kansas City Star

“Saturday Night Live” star Jason Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park, returned to the area Tuesday night for a screening of his new film “The Rocker.” After the film ended, he took questions from the audience.

Next stop for Jason Sudeikis is the Foo Fighters’ concert with some friends. For the “Saturday Night Live” star from Overland Park, being back in the Kansas City area feels good, he said as he addressed fans at a preview screening of “The Rocker”.

So what does he like about home?

“It’s great. You get to eat Gates and Bryants,” he said. “Oh, and beers are cheap here.”

The seats at the Olathe AMC 30 were full for the screening of the film, which stars Rainn Wilson (Dwight from NBC’s “The Office”). The film centers on a washed-up drummer who almost made it big in the ’80s who finds fame playing in his nephew’s high school band.

Applause and laughter were fairly subdued until Sudeikis’ David Marshall, the band’s major-label manager, appeared on screen. Either the audience recognized Sudeikis as a local star, or his crude, slimy, two-faced role delivered many of the comedic highlights of the film.

“I think the movie would have been PG without me,” Sudeikis joked to the crowd, most of whom stayed after the movie to hear him speak and answer questions.

One questioner asked where Sudeikis got the idea for the popular “Two A-holes” characters on “SNL.” They were created late at night, with no particular inspiration in mind, he said.

“I guess you could say they are like Blue Valley kids,” said Sudeikis. The audience burst into either support or dissent at this point, and he went on to mention that other schools — including his alma mater, Shawnee Mission West — had some “turkeys,” too.

But Sudeikis’ academic life was not necessarily impressive after graduating high school. He dropped out of Fort Scott Community College after getting kicked off the basketball team for having bad grades. Oddly enough, the soon-to-be writer for “SNL” even failed English.

But Sudeikis started focusing on comedy. His troupe, Der Monkenpickle, performed around Lawrence before he moved to Chicago to become part of the Second City improv company. He was brought onto “SNL” first as a writer, then a performer.

And Sudeikisimprov history is clear when he speaks to an audience. When asked whether he would concentrate more on making films than “SNL,” like former cast member Will Ferrell, Sudeikis was quick.

“Yeah, do the Will Ferrell thing and make $20 million a film, buying houses for my boats?” Sudeikis said. He would like that, but he has a long way to go.

After all, he is only working on “low-budget” movies with around $15 million to spend. Well, low-budget for Fox, anyway.

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