MOVIES | John C. Reilly on “Cyrus,” Mumblecore, and his magnificent career

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John C. Reilly has starred in over 40 feature films since the late 80s. For a while, Reilly, 45, could have been called a “character actor”—someone you recognize but whose face you can’t quite put a name to—but nowadays he turns up in everything from leading-man roles to comic cameos. He’s been in films made by some of the biggest directors in the world: Brian DePalma (Casualties of War), Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York), Robert Altman (A Prairie Home Companion), Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia). In 2002 he appeared in no fewer than three of the five films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (The Hours, Gangs of New York, and Chicago, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination). Most people, though probably know Reilly best, for starring in comedies with Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers).


In the new dark comedy Cyrus, the third feature written and directed by Mumblecore, regulars Jay & Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Baghead)—which opens Friday at the Lagoon—Reilly plays John, a divorced man encouraged by his ex-wife (Catherine Keener), who’s getting remarried, to play the field and meet another woman. When John meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party, he can’t believe that he’s landed such a funny, smart, and sexy woman who’s interested in him. When John follows Molly home one morning to find out why she keeps leaving before they can enjoy a morning together, he discovers Molly has a son—a grown son—named Cyrus (Jonah Hill), who still lives at home. When John finally meets him, it becomes apparent why Cyrus still lives at home and why Molly was conveniently single.


Reilly was in the Twin Cities a few weeks ago promoting Cyrus, and we had the chance to sit down with him. Before the interview started, he was taken aback by how similar Erik looks to Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks), saying, “You’re like [his] brother from another mother.” We went with it, even though he disagreed when Erik mentioned people have told him he looks like Shia LaBeouf. So when the Twin Cities Daily Planet story is optioned for the epic screen treatment it deserves (seriously, where is that script?), it looks like Colin Hanks will be at the top of the list to play Erik. (We’re on the lookout for possible Jim Brunzells and Jay Gablers, so suggestions are always welcome in the comment section.)


When we finally got around to the interview, we asked Reilly about a few of his roles over the years, if his character is similar to Hill’s own Cyrus, and when the hell is he going to be working with Paul Thomas Anderson again?