Interview: Broken Lizard’s Erik Stolhanske on Motivational Speaking, Super Troopers 2, & His Next Film

erik stolhanske interview

I pretty much vowed to never do an interview again after my last one. The lead singer of that band I interviewed is a total asshole and completely put me off from doing them until last week. Out of complete luck Erik Stolhanske agreed to meet with me. Erik is best known as Rabbit from Super Troopers, as well as appearing in Club Dread, Super Troopers, Beer Fest, Slammin’ Salmon, Puddle Cruisers, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Six Feet Under, P90X, and the new upcoming film RockBarnes: The Emperor in You.

When I showed up at the Caribou Coffee, I saw an older man sitting with his back turned to me. The guy was wearing a suit, had a leather binder open, a blue tooth, and the keys to a BMW sitting on the table while he drank an incredibly tall latte. I realized I had just come from work, I smelled like ass, and I was wearing one of my five smelly flannel shirts. I remember thinking, “Fuck, this isn’t going to be a very long interview.” I sat down with the guy until I realized it wasn’t Erik and I just made myself look like a jackass. Luckily, Erik showed up and had a much calmer demeanor.

Can you tell me about the latest movie you were a part of?

RockBarnes: The Emperor in You. It’s a movie about a self-help guru who doesn’t quite have it together. It’s a movie I didn’t do with the guys from Broken Lizard, and it was written and directed by Ben McMillan.

The trailer looks really funny. How do you feel making fun of something you do? You are a motivational speaker, right?

Yeah, I do a lot of speaking. I’ve been all over the country doing motivational talks in Michigan, Virginia, Arizona, Salt Lake City, Gainesville, about what I like to call “Foolish Perseverance.” A lot of the events that happened in my life were real reasons to quit. I was born without a fibula and I was the captain of my high school baseball team. When I was a kid my parents used to say things like ‘you’re going to fall down and you’re going to fail, but don’t worry, you just need to get back up.

People really think Broken Lizard took off and everything was great, but in reality, it took us ten years to get off the ground, where our shows were losing money. We took a risk and went into debt but it ultimately paid off. One of the things I say in my motivation speeches is “we all have a wooden leg,” and “never give up.” Of course I am nothing like RockBarnes in the film.

Do you ever look yourself up on Wikipedia? If so is everything there true?

I have no idea what it says on there, but probably not.

I guess he hasn’t checked because I added “His best friend in the world is who he considers to be the greatest writer of all time, Troy Bernardo.” That’s what you get for not being narcissistic! Take that Erik!

When I heard you on A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan you said something about a podcast. Can you tell me more about it?

My podcast is “Live From Uncle Denny’s Winnebago.” Honestly, I know actors and I get along with them, but we aren’t really friends. I’ll see people I’ve worked with around and we will be excited to see one another, but we don’t hang out. I mostly hang out with professional athletes, I don’t really know why. So I interview them. On my podcast I interviewed Jared Allen-

What is that guy like off the field?

He’s a really nice guy. Really mellow and down to earth. It’s crazy he could be pumping up the crowd and sacking quarterbacks one second and he could just turn it off and have a nice conversation with you. The difference is, he could take down Brian Urlacher and you and I can’t.

What is it like when the guys from Broken Lizard write a movie? Do you each bring something different to the table? Does one of you write?

We all write and we all bring something different to the table. The challenge really comes when you have to write a movie with 5 main characters because we all have to do the same thing. Like being cops, or college professors, or servers. Generally though we all write about 20 to 25 pages and every week there’s one “secretary” who helps facilitate the process and there you go, you have a movie script. Really, we’ve probably written 10-15 scripts together, and only a few have been made into movies.

Are there any movies you guys would watch a lot that the Broken Lizard guys really loved?

Quentin Tarantino movies.

Tell me about Super Troopers 2. Is that going to start getting shot soon?

It actually hasn’t been green-lighted yet. Once they do though we’re ready to go!

What are some other projects you’ve been a part of?

I was on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was different, I showed up and there was no script. They told me I was a Norwegian but Larry was going to mistake me for Swedish. My dad is Norwegian and my mom is Swedish but honestly there isn’t that much of a difference. Larry was a serious guy though. They gave me specific instructions to not be funny and to not try and upstage him.

What are your future plans? Is there anything you really want to start doing?

One of my old college English professors wrote a script based on his mother and father after World War II, and I read it and fell in love with the script. I want to direct the film, but it is hard to get the money when you’re a first time director not many people want to take a shot investing in you. So that’s currently a big obstacle I’m facing is getting financed for this film I’m really drawn to. I also wrote a script about India that’s a work in progress. I’ve been working on it for like 10 or 15 years and I can’t get it right. I’ve had people take multiple looks at it and I just cant make it fit.

Even though I had just came off an eight hour shift smelling like ass, and Erik could have been doing significantly more productive things with his time, he still hung out with me for two hours and shot the shit. We took a couple pictures together and he signed my old Super Troopers poster. It was awesome.

Keep your eyes peeled for RockBarnes, which will be out soon as it’s in the final stages of production.

erik stolhanske