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A Minute With: Zach Galifianakis, politics and "The Campaign"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Zach Galifianakis may be best known as the breakout star of "The Hangover" movie franchise, but on Friday, he takes on politics -- and Will Ferrell -- in the Jay Roach directed comedy "The Campaign."
/ Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Zach Galifianakis may be best known as the breakout star of "The Hangover" movie franchise, but on Friday, he takes on politics -- and Will Ferrell -- in the Jay Roach directed comedy "The Campaign."

The film is about Cam Brady (Ferrell), a congressman in North Carolina who has run unopposed for the last few elections and expects to cruise to another victory. But two CEOs determined to oust him decide to hand-pick a naive man, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), to run against him.

Galifianakis, 42, recently talked with Reuters about his personal connection to politics and his newfound passion for farming.

Q: Why is the world of politics such a goldmine for comedy?

A: "Politics has become so insanely rough and there's so much B.S. out there that we thought it would be interesting to make a movie about the making of candidates. Basically how the sausage is made, if you will."

Q: Did you draw on any real-life politicians?

A: "There are several people that have been on the national stage that we borrowed from for sure. I think the most prevalent example is the Sarah Palin aspect where -- and I don't blame Sarah Palin, I blame it on the human ego -- when somebody chooses you to do something, you start believing (you can do it). If I got hand-picked to do something or was told I was really good at something, I would want to believe it because it sounds nice."

Q: Exactly. You hope that people genuinely think you're qualified ...

A: "I've never thought I was qualified for anything. But the last couple of years people think I'm qualified to act in movies, so I'm running with it! (laughs)"

Q: Do you follow politics in general?

A: "I've paid attention to politics since I was a kid. My uncle (Nick Galifianakis) was a congressman (between 1967 and 1973) and he was involved in a very unfair campaign against him in North Carolina in the '70s. So I'm pretty well aware of past races and elections. When we were filming the movie, all I did was watch political television on both sides ... A lot of these political ads are so ridiculous! They look like they were produced by fourth graders!"

Q: Did you ever think twice about getting into it yourself?

A: "Me? No, no, no. I'm not eloquent enough to be like that. It's a tough world to be involved in. I look at these guys running for president and I don't know how they do it. They must really believe that they can do something or maybe they're just power hungry. I have no idea ... I ran for school president in sixth grade and I lost. I stopped trying after that. My mom forced me to run. I thought I was going to win. I was cocky and it didn't go my way."

Q: Clearly the acting choice worked out for you. You're a go-to guy in comedy for these loveable losers. Do you feel typecast?

A: "My character (in "The Campaign") is different from anything that I've played. I think in the movie-making business, they want to paint you in a corner and re-use you for the thing that you're known best. I can play dumb very well and I play dumb in this one. But it's a different kind of dumb. It was fun to play somebody that's not so vacant."

Q: You're currently shooting "You Are Here," with Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler in North Carolina, where you happen to own a farm.

A: "Yes, I live there part of the time, so to be on my farm and commute to work is the greatest."

Q: Is farmland important to you?

A: "A few years ago I had this real craving to nurture land and grow things. I get a big kick out of watching my grapes and blueberries grow (laughs). The idea is to figure out how to feed my family and myself off the farm."

Q: And how's that going?

A: "When you don't know what you're doing, it takes a lot of work! But it's very rewarding."

Q: This fall, you're reprising your role as Alan in a third "Hangover." Got any clues as to what will be the boys' next adventure?

A: "Yeah, I have a little bit of a clue, but we're tight-lipped about that."

Q: Is there an end in sight? Or is this an infinite franchise?

A: "This is the last one. We're all in agreement that this is it. We're doing a third one to make a conclusion."

(Reporting by Zorianna Kit, editing by Jill Serjeant, desking by Gary Crosse)