“Are you going to give me his mouth?” No, Trey Parker is not requesting fellatio from a reluctant personal assistant here in Culver City, California. We're on the set of Team America: World Police , the new film by Trey and fellow South Park creator Matt Stone, and the soft-spoken Parker is waiting for the radio controller in his lap to take command of one of his actor's jaws. An actor who, along with every other actor in the film, is an 18-inch-tall marionette.
Yes, the sassy satirists have persuaded a major Hollywood studio to fund a feature-length film about a terrorist-fighting band of wooden brothers (plus two chicks), and judging by the scene they are shooting today, the world will be a much happier place for it. But not everyone is thrilled about Team America . Last August, a senior advisor to President Bush registered disgust with the film's trailer, saying, “I really do not think terrorism is funny, and I would suggest Paramount give respect to those fighting and sacrificing to keep America safe.” And from the looks of other puppets hanging around the set, with name tags such as Alec Baldwin and Janeane Garofalo, a certain outspoken segment of the entertainment industry might be less than thrilled with this project, as well. But at the moment, there are only two men in the United States who seem to truly despise the words Team America . And those two men are sitting in director's chairs, staring at playback monitors and not-so-quietly praying for death.
STUFF: Is it a director's ultimate fantasy to be able to control his actors like this?
TREY: Well, yeah, except that all of your actors are basically quadriplegic and retarded. To get a marionette to do anything is so hard. I'm so used to cartoons, where it's, I know, let's have the entire Chinese Army show up, and a few minutes later, you have the entire Chinese Army. All you want them to do is look over here, and they can't. I hate puppets.
MATT: I have dreams about them not being able to do anything. This thing has absolutely hijacked our lives. I remember when we made the South Park movie, we were driving home, and Trey said, “I am never fucking doing this again.” And I was like, “Me neither.” And for some fucking reason, we're back here again.
Why puppets? Why now?
TREY: We were flipping through the channels, and Thunderbirds was on. And it was like, I remember this show. Well, I kinda remember it. We were like, “Wow, this kinda sucks.” It is so bad. But we thought it was so cool that it was all models and there were no computers and thought, Aw, man, someone should do that, only not with such sucky writing. And we thought, We could do that. Not that our writing doesn't suck, but we'd have to be able to do better than Thunderbirds.
When they made a feature out of Thunderbirds, they inexplicably replaced the marionettes with Bill Paxton.
TREY: Yeah, they had better actors than we do. More wooden, anyway.
The Drudge Report stated that the Bush camp was displeased with the trailer of this movie.
MATT: Yeah, but you know, who knows? Who knows who was upset? Some low-level guy in Alabama? I'll bet Drudge made that up. Or not. Who knows?
Will this be the first time puppets will have an influence on an election?
TREY: I don't think so. Because I don't think anyone would come out of this movie saying, “Oh, they made some very good points there.”
MATT: Hopefully, before you see the movie, you'll get a little bit drunk.
TREY: I don't think anyone will leave the movie theater going, “Oh, I get the message.” I think they'll be going, “That was funny the way that puppet fell down.”
So what is Team America's mission?
TREY: We don't know yet. [ Laughs ] As soon as we figure it out, we'll tell you. This movie lampoons politics-spouting celebs.
Has Michael Moore seen his puppet?
TREY: I think he'll be pleased. It's pretty flattering, actually. We tried to make it fatter, but we just couldn't. The thing with these puppets is, their heads are so big that it is hard to make them look fat.
George Clooney has done voices for you guys. Why didn't you give him shit about pontificating about the evils of the paparazzi after Princess Diana died?
MATT: That was different, because he was talking about something he actually knew something about. I mean, he knows about being stalked by the paparazzi.
TREY: George is sort of a friend. We've hung out and stuff, but he was involved with MoveOn.org, so it would be hypocritical for us to not make fun of him, too. So fuck him, too. [ Laughs ]
Do people who you've trashed on South Park regularly threaten to beat you up?
TREY: They always say that they like it.
MATT: They usually thank us. I'll forget we did something and they'll come up to me at a party and they'll say, “Thanks a lot.” That's happened to me with Tony Danza, Tina Yothers…
Has Mel Gibson's camp gotten back to you since South Park 's now-infamous “The Passion of the Jew” episode aired?
TREY: No, no. [ Laughs ] They're pretty good at keeping their distance. You have to remember, these people have amazing publicists. So their publicity people get the word out that, “Oh, they loved it!” So it's like, “See, they're cool.”
So Mel loved the fact that you had him in diapers smearing his feces on the wall?
TREY: Yeah, he thought it was great.
When you appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last year, you explained that before you guys made it, your favorite pastime was going to Hollywood parties and photographing yourselves farting on celebrities. Then, to drive the point home, you farted on fellow Kimmel guest Lorenzo Lamas.
MATT: Lorenzo didn't invite us to any parties after that.
TREY: We stopped farting on celebrities when we became small celebrities, because we didn't want people doing it to us.
As established filmmakers, do you have a favorite way to belittle assistants?
TREY: No, we feel like everyone is in the same hell we are, so why make it worse? My assistant is one of my best friends from high school. So I could yell at him, I guess, but he'd be like, “Fuck you, dude.” [ Laughs ]
What offends you?
TREY: I'm offended by things that are terrible, like Bruce Almighty or Shrek 2 . I am superoffended by Shrek 2 . I sat in the front row and listened to people laugh at jokes that have been on Three's Company millions of times. What is going on?
MATT: I'm offended by comedy that doesn't even try. But for us, it's so emotionally draining when you care about it. If you're doing some piece of shit comedy like Big Daddy or a Rob Schneider comedy, you can just go home at 7. It's like punching the clock. And whether ours is better or not, I don't know.
What's the most egregiously bad thing on TV?
TREY: It's all egregiously bad. I really stopped watching altogether.
You don't TiVo According to Jim ?
TREY: No, I can't stand that guy.
Do you ever step back and think, I can't believe we just committed that to film ?
MATT: All the time. I am constantly amazed at how stupid the shit we are doing is.
You guys throw a pretty famous Halloween party every year. What goes on at it?
MATT: A bunch of booze and a bunch of people in costumes getting fucked up. It's our way of giving back to the community. Last year, I got a Sears catalog, a 1980 fall catalog. I opened to a random page and pointed to a random guy, and I dressed up as that guy. I walked around with the catalog, and when someone asked who I was, I opened it up and said, “That guy on page 83.” It worked out pretty well.
I notice you're rocking a mustache, Matt.
MATT: I hate myself and my life right now, and I hate mustaches, so this is my way of expressing that—like cutting your arm to feel something. It's my soft version of Iggy Pop slicing himself up onstage. I don't have the guts to hurt myself, but I'll slowly make myself look cheesy.
Do you have any parting words for our readers?
MATT: They're lucky they have Stuff around. When we were 20, we didn't have magazines like Stuff around. All we had was Mother Jones . Oh, and grow a mustache if you're pissed off.
[ source: STUFF ]