Six Pack of Pop: Dane Cook
August 07, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Comedian/actor Dane Cook says he loved cartoons as a kid (“Tom & Jerry was my favorite.”) so it’s not surprising that his most recent on-screen effort was as much fun as it was work. Cook is the voice of the lead character Dusty in “Disney’s Planes," which opens in theaters nationally Aug. 9. A special paint scheme promoting the movie was featured on the No. 48 Chevrolet of five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson during this year’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Cook served as grand marshal for the race and spent time atop the pit box of the Hendrick Motorsports team.
"Many of my fans through the years have been kind of pumping me up on it, saying ‘you should come to a race.’ Nothing beats the actual event. It’s like saying you watch the Super Bowl versus actually being at the Super Bowl."
-- Dane Cook on attending his first NASCAR race
Is this your first NASCAR event?
Yeah, it’s my first. Many of my fans through the years have been kind of pumping me up on it, saying ‘you should come to a race.’ Nothing beats the actual event. It’s like saying you watch the Super Bowl versus actually being at the Super Bowl. The amount of pure energy that is out there … as a comic, that’s what I like to feed off of, so I feel like I’m in my element.
You’ve been doing stand-up for a number of years now. What was that first experience like?
In 1990, I was scouting a local comedy club in Cambridge, Mass., called Catch A Rising Star. I was sitting there, just watching, trying to learn what … was happening behind the scenes. And I was sitting there, they were reading off the names of perspective open-mikers. That’s how they would do it at this club; you’d sign up and then two weeks later you would show up, sit in the crowd and they would read your name off. And then you’d come up (from the audience).
So I’m sitting there, first time, and the host says, ‘where’s Earnest Glenn?’ Obviously Ernest Glenn didn’t show up because there was about five seconds of silence. I knew this guy wasn’t in the room and the next thing I knew my hand was in the air.
The host looks down at me and says, ‘Are you Ernest Glenn?’ I said, ‘Yes I am.’ So my first five minutes of performing was 23 years ago as Ernest Glenn. I’d like to find him and thank him because he started my career by not showing up that night.
You’re the voice of the main character Dusty in “Disney’s Planes.” Had you ever done that type of work?
No, nothing of this caliber, nothing with the amount of magic that (goes on) behind the scenes when you work with a company like Disney with their lineage and Pixar and everything. Just a bevy of incredible family animated films. When they came calling, I was over the moon to be a part of it.
Were you allowed any input into the development of the character?
Well, initially your first reaction is ‘these people have been doing this a long time. I think they know exactly what gives and probably don’t need a lot of punch up.’
But, once I got in the room, I found there were several scenes where my director, Klay Hall, and our producer, John Lasseter, would say, ‘there is some room to play here. Let’s try to find something that really resonates in the moment.’ So there were a few places, especially during some of the big action sequences, where I could take off.
What about this particular project appealed to you?
It’s a challenge. As an actor and a performer, it was something outside my comfort zone. As a child, I was pie-eyed watching some of these great Disney cartoons that influenced me and excited me. Again, just to be behind the scenes … see how those things came together -- which was even more vast a process than I had been introduced to. I think primarily for my fans who have said to me, ‘I’ve grown up with you. You’re of my generation, but I have a family of my own now.’ They may not be able to get out to see a comedy routine now like they used to, so it was like, OK, this will be really great for their entire family.
Did you ever think you’d be starring in a Disney movie?
I hoped. I guess you wouldn’t think so. But it’s kind of interesting. Because people have said ‘your stand-up is more adult.’ But … George Carlin was on “Shining Time Station,” which was a children’s show. And he was the ‘seven words you can’t say on television’ guy. Eddie Murphy in “Shrek,” Robin Williams in “Aladdin.” So I didn’t feel in any way overwhelmed when they called. I thought, ‘they know what they’re doing.’
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