Tim: We’ve worked with Ronnie [Rodriguez] before on the show, so we knew that he could bring it. He was the best Johnny Depp impersonator that we had ever seen up to that point, so we just knew it was a slam dunk.
Has the real Johnny Depp reacted to his vicarious cameo in the movie?
Tim: Not to my knowledge, but he only watches DVDs, so he might be waiting to watch the DVD.
Those personal makeovers that you both get in the movie are something else. What instructions did you guys give to the stylist? Was there a particular look you were going for?
Tim: I was going for Jon Bon Jovi.
Eric: I was more of a Motley Crue, aging L.A. rocker.
How long did it take to get that tan makeup off?
Tim: It took a lot longer to put on than to take off.
Eric: It was a spray process that was kind of annoying at first. But after you see it on camera, I think the makeup person does an amazing job on us.
Just after you have your revelation to get involved with the Swallow Valley Mall's re-opening, you guys launch into this especially memorable dramatic little dance walk. Had you guys toyed around with a bunch before you settled on that one?
Tim: Two others. We were originally driving a little ATV in that scene, and then we couldn’t do it for budgetary reasons, so we brainstormed, which is sometimes the best solution to a problem, to get on your brainstorming caps and work out a solution that’s better than your original idea. When you’re pressed up against a wall, sometimes inspiration just finds you.
That mall truly looked like its own seedy, hellish version of some bad part of a city. What about a mall struck you as the right place to set the scene?
Tim: It first was a small town and that was a little more than we could handle, so a mall seemed like a great next choice because it’s sort of like a micro world.
Within that mall, you deliver plenty of awkward humor, namely the simultaneous sex and "shrim" sequence, which is no doubt the movie’s most squirm-inducing moment for first-timers. Did you feel like you were testing them in a way with those scenes?
Tim: No, we just make the stuff up to entertain ourselves. We just think that’s funny. We know our audience can handle that. It didn’t seem that completely insane. I think when the movie came out, a lot of normal people began reacting as though we’d slaughtered a child on camera, but I think we realized that people are prepared for that kind of humor. I don’t think there was any sense of, “This is the craziest thing that’s ever happened.”
Twink Caplan, who plays your shared love interest Katie, looked so familiar to me at first, and it took a little while to place her. She was actually Miss Geist in Clueless. How did you guys wind up connecting with her for this role?
Eric: She did a bit for Awesome Show that we never used, working with Tommy Wiseau, and she was very open and willing to do a lot of funny physical moves, and she just nailed it. She knew what she was in for from having worked with us on the show.
It seems as though you’re both so immune to the uncomfortable when it comes to your work. Does anything have the power to make you guys flinch?
Tim: I can’t think of anything. Still haven’t crossed the line of doing full frontal nudity yet, that’s still one I don’t see crossing anytime soon.
Eric: One thing that’s interesting is that a lot of people think that we’re really into gross-out stuff, like diarrhea, boogers, and stuff, and we like making fun of it and performing it, but I actually am really grossed out by stuff like that. I don’t really like when people talk about shit problems or see people picking their nose—it actually really affects me heavily. That’s a weird little tidbit. But I love doing it on film to freak other people out.
Which scene in Billion Dollar Movie resulted in the most outtakes?
Tim: Will Ferrell’s office scene with Mr. Weebs in his office. There was originally a version of that scene that was like 15 minutes, and there was so much improvising and goofing around that it kept on getting slashed down.
You both weren’t afraid to push the boundaries with B$M. Do you have any regard for what critics think, or is the focus really much more on what makes you two laugh?
Eric: Since we started with Tom Goes to the Mayor, we’ve had the same reaction, which is polarizing. People really love it or people really hate it that don’t understand it. We sort of knew what we were getting into with this movie. This movie we made for ourselves, it was so unfiltered, exactly what we made, and the reviews were exactly what’s happened forever—really good and really bad. But it doesn’t affect us—it doesn’t affect me. I stopped reading them.
Tim: There’s a point when you read them and you’re like, “Oh, this person couldn’t have been watching the same movie.” I’ve learned through his process that it seems pretty obvious to me that the mainstream press has some kind of agenda that is weighted against independent filmmaking and stuff that doesn’t fit into the category of traditional studio pictures; some people were very harsh on the movie in ways that were not accurate or not fair and I think that there’s a real tendency for some of these people to fight for the big, giant mass-marketed pictures a lot harder than some of the smaller pictures.
Lastly, what’s up next for you guys?
Tim: Well, we have a pretty interesting phone chat later with someone who’s hopefully going to be designing some apps for us for mobile use. We’re getting into the app market. It’s very primordial: "Let’s get on the phone, talk about what ideas are out there, what do we want to do and what we don’t want to do." It’s really at that developmental stage. It’s probably going to be some kind of calorie counter, though.