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Christian Slater And Clark Duke Dish On Inside Job, Their Influences, And Nostalgia - Exclusive Interview

Christian Slater and Clark Duke made a splash together in "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," and now they're teaming up again for the Netflix series "Inside Job." The pair went from time travel to conspiracy theories, as "Inside Job" hinges on the idea that every conspiracy you could dream of is true — with shadowy cabals keeping their existence a secret, of course. Slater's character Randy works through his tumultuous relationship with his daughter Reagan (Lizzy Caplan). Meanwhile, Duke's character Brett strikes up an unlikely friendship with Reagan. All in all, there's a lot to love about the show's dark humor and its confrontation of trauma — all set in a heavily parodied sci-fi world.

Slater's movie credits include the '80s dark comedy "Heathers," "Interview with the Vampire," "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves." Meanwhile, has Duke starred in projects like "Kick-Ass," "The Croods," "Veronica Mars," and is often most recognized for his stint as Clark on "The Office." In "Inside Job," he ditches his usual nerdy roles for Brett's jock personality — and his need to be liked by everyone.

Looper spoke with Clark Duke and Christian Slater during an exclusive interview for "Inside Job." The duo dished on their time on the show, which of their former projects they'd love to see parodied on the series, how their deep catalog of work informed their direction in the series, and which of their projects they'd like to relive.

Back to the '80s

Christian, you came up as an actor in the '80s. You didn't get a chance to go to the '80s town during the thematic episode of "Inside Job," but if you had a chance to watch it or read the script, what are some of the nostalgic moments that stood out to you, and do you have an '80s or '90s project that you worked on that you'd love for the show to parody?

Christian Slater: Wow, great question. I love that episode. I thought the '80s episode was hilarious. It was fun to see ... what is that game? Simon Says. Just all the little toys and things that they were playing with were great. I did a movie called "Heathers." That would be fun for them to parody. I think that could be interesting. Yeah, that's all I can think of right now.

You've both worked with an incredible slate of talent in your careers, and the show parodies a ton of celebrities, from Taylor Swift to Oprah. Is there anyone you've worked with, or someone you're friends with, or a fan of, that you'd love to see parodied on the show?

Clark Duke: Personally, or just somebody from pop culture in general?

It could be either or both.

Clark Duke: I'm trying to think of somebody I know that's really interesting.

Christian Slater: I got a guy named Pete, just Pete. Pete would be hilarious to parody. He'd be funny. Oh my goodness.

Clark Duke: I mean, we cover so many people in the show, in the clone episode alone. Without spoilers, I'm trying to think of somebody we haven't. The JFK and Elvis ones made me laugh a lot. We can't do Nixon because "Futurama" already had the Nixon in the jar. Maybe they'll bring Joe Biden on, make it really current.

A Hot Tub Time Machine reunion

Clark, you worked with Lizzy Caplan in "Hot Tub Time Machine." What was it like working with her on "Inside Job" so many years later?

Clark Duke: It was great, and I actually worked with Christian on "Hot Tub 2," so I had met a lot of people in the cast already. It was really fun and easy because I'd known Lizzy for a long time. And initially, when the show first started recording, we were doing the live table reads in person, and then COVID happened, everybody split up and had to record in their closet, but it was nice because I feel like you had an immediate shorthand relationship with everybody. And getting to do those initial table reads definitely, I think, helped set a tone for the ... Or for me, at least, it gave me a sense of the tone and how to play the character a little bit, so it was great.

The magic of nostalgia

I love the show's idea of a memory wipe being used to forget the ending of a show, movie, or book to relive it again. Is there a project that you either worked on or something that you're a fan of that you'd love to erase so you could live it again?

Clark Duke: Oh, so "I had so much fun, I'd like to do it again" type of thing? The first movie I did was this movie called "Sex Drive," and I was 22, and we shot in Miami, and that was about the most fun I've ever had.

Christian Slater: Yeah, maybe "Pump Up the Volume" was a movie I did, same as you, many, many years ago, and I did have a great time making that project. Yeah, to have a memory erased and to be able to go back in time and do that one again with all those people, that would be a fun one to relive.

Where do you hope that your characters go in Season 2, and are there any plot points or character arcs you'd love to see them explore?

Clark Duke: I think my honest ... I'm glad I'm not in charge of that — someone else is.

That's a fair answer. What about you, Christian?

Christian Slater: Yeah, I know. Me, too. Well, we actually have recorded another eight to ten episodes, I think, so I know where it goes, and I'm very happy about it. I think it moves in the right direction, or in a particular direction that is enjoyable, that I think you'll enjoy, so I'm happy with where it goes.

Inside Job meets The Office

Clark, I got a mildly incompetent and wildly inappropriate Michael Scott vibe from J.R. Did you notice any similarities between those two characters, and why do you think "The Office" fans need to tune into "Inside Job"?

Clark Duke: I'm sure there are similarities, and they're probably just subconscious on my part. I think fans of "The Office" would definitely like the show because, at the end of the day, it is an office sitcom about this group of people that work in this office. The office is just very off the wall. But it's still got that similar dynamic. You've got the guy in the office that's a loudmouth, and somebody's a know-it-all, and it's like ... the dynamics are still there. So yeah, I think anybody that liked "The Office" would like the show.

Did you bring anything from that experience into your experience playing Brett?

Clark Duke: Nothing specific. I definitely learned a lot, being on "The Office," about how you can have really outlandish dialogue scenarios, whatever, but as long as it's grounded in that style, you can get away with a lot. And I think that holds true for this as well because like I said, even though it is about the deep state and the world ending every week, it's still really about the relationships, at the end of the day, and that grounds the material in a good way, so probably that was the thing I picked up most from being on "The Office."

Trauma and robots

Christian, some of the "tech meets trauma" vibes on "Mr. Robot" are similar to "Inside Job." Can you speak to some of those similarities and why "Mr. Robot" fans need to tune into the show?

Christian Slater: Well, I think it's a show that is definitely out there on so many levels. The timing of the show, I think, is quite fascinating. I mean, so many people are believing in these conspiracy theories and deep state and Illuminati, so there are similar qualities. "Mr. Robot" had that 1% of the 1% that was controlling everything, and I think this show certainly, to an extraordinary extreme, takes advantage of that whole scenario as well.

And what drew you both to your characters, and why were you excited to take on this project?

Clark Duke: The script. Everything starts with the script. I thought the script was really smart, really funny. And like Christian said, who would've guessed that it would've ended up being so weirdly relevant to life right now with all the conspiracy stuff in the forefront of the news? But yeah, I mean, like anything, it starts with the writing.

Playing outrageous characters

Christian, you've done a significant amount of dark comedy work on projects like "Heathers," along with horror like "Interview with the Vampire." What draws you to some of these darker roles, and did any of those projects help inform your direction on "Inside Job"?

Christian Slater: Well, I definitely enjoy playing characters that are more outrageous. I think I find them therapeutic. This type of character, Randy, is certainly a guy who's living on the edge. He thinks he's the smartest guy in the room. He doesn't really know how to connect with his daughter. He does the best that he can. There is, I think, a genuine love. As much as that relationship is frustrating to Reagan, there is a love between these two characters.

So this whole experience, even doing it during COVID and having to be creative and set up my own recording studio inside my living room, was a fun challenge. The whole thing was nuts. And by the time I would come out of my own personal recording booth, I'd be sweating and have really delved into this character so deeply that it was fun. I love the whole world of animation. I mean, that's a world that I love to play in, and I think it's just a very creative space with a lot less pressure, and you can really let yourself go.

From nerd to jock

Clark, playing a jock-type character is a relatively new venture for you. What drew you to this role, and did you have any inspirations for the formulation of your character, and what did it feel like to ditch that typical nerdy character and take on something different?

Clark Duke: I mean, that's the beautiful thing about animation — you're not limited by your usual typecasting type of stuff. You can stretch out a little, so it's been really fun. I will add that I also am always really sweaty afterwards, from the home recordings. I agree with you, Christian.

Christian Slater: Right?

Clark Duke: Yeah. I'm always just soaking wet after.

Christian Slater: Oh my gosh, I know. Well, yeah, I was under a big duvet most of the time, recording these things to try and kill all the exterior noises.

Clark Duke: You got to turn the AC...

Christian Slater: Yeah, yeah. You really, really do. But that was fun. It made me really feel like I was doing some aerobic work.

Clark Duke: It was nice to have something to ... ongoing, during the pandemic too, because voiceover was the only thing I had going on for a year there, so I was glad to have it.

Christian Slater: Me too, me too. Needed that creative outlet during all this.

The first ten episodes of "Inside Job" are streaming on Netflix now.