Matthew Lillard Explains How He Ended Up in The Descendants
11.18.11 by Ryan
Actor Matthew Lillard first sprang to national attention with his performance in the 1996 horror movie Scream, but is now more well-known as Shaggy to children who seen him play the character in the 2002 live-action adaptation Scooby-Doo and its 2004 sequel or heard him provide the voice of Shaggy in several direct-to-DVD cartoon movies.
Lillard's latest role is in the upcoming comedy-drama The Descendants, which stars George Clooney as a father of two girls living in Hawaii who has to re-examine his life after he discovers his comatose wife has been having an affair with a local real estate agent (Lillard). In an interview with Black Book, Lillard revealed that the part did not come by easily. "It was an audition," Lillard admitted. "Nobody ever comes to me. Nobody in the history of filmmaking has ever gone, ‘You know who we need for this? Matt Lillard.'"
Lillard said that he didn't think the audition would actually get him the part, but was hoping to impress co-writer/director Alexander Payne.
I read the audition and I was like, 'Dude, there’s no way I’m going to be this guy. There’s no way I’m George Clooney’s wife’s lover. That’s not happening.' But I’m a huge Alexander Payne fan, and any chance you get to audition for a guy like that, I’m in. I actually tried to cancel the audition, for a lot of reasons. I was taking my kids to see a Scooby Doo screening of a DVD movie at Warner Bros., and you can’t reschedule. Anyway I walk in and there are like five guys who are all Adonises, like the Hollywood stud guy. And so I’m like, 'Okay, no one will really see me. There’s five f**king gorgeous guys, and I’d rather be taking my kid to a movie anyway.' But then I just walked in and I said 'Look, to be honest with you, I’m a charming guy. I could sit here and bullshit with you, but I’d rather just do it. If you want me to do it again and take adjustments, that’s my favorite thing to do. But if it’s all right with you, I’d like to get this done so I can take my kid to see this movie.' So I auditioned and Alexander was like 'That’s the best audition I’ve ever seen.'
[A]nd I said to him, 'Too bad I’m not going to be the guy f**king Clooney’s wife.' And he was like, 'Why would you say that?' The casting director’s like, "Just get out of the room, just go away." And for three months I knew that he liked the audition, but they saw hundreds of guys. So to get the role at the end of the day was crazy.
Lillard said that working on The Descendants with Clooney was like "going one-on-one with LeBron [James]".
Nobody goes into this business going 'You know, I want to be marginal and s**tty for the rest of my life.' You want to be great. So when you get a chance to do a movie like this and to work with Alexander and to do a scene with Clooney, you want to step up and carry the game. You want to forward the game. It’s like going one-on-one with LeBron. If you’re a basketball player and you think you’re a good player and you get a head-to-head with Lebron, you want to be great. And that’s what it feels like.
The Descendants is in limited release and is already getting Oscar Buzz. Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Payne co-wrote the script with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. The cast also includes Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Robert Forster and Nick Krause.