Now that Balls of Fury is coming out on DVD, viewers have the opportunity to freeze frame on the scantily clad Aisha Tyler on their big screen HDTVs. Perhaps more lingering shots of Mahogany, the bad guys evil villainous sidekick, would have benefited the movie’s theatrical run. Tyler covered up a tad more for interviews, perhaps so much that her body couldn’t adjust to room temperature.
Aisha Tyler: I’ve been sweating.
CraveOnline: From the lights from the TV interviews?
Aisha Tyler: No, just apparently I’m a sweaty person. I don’t know what it is. I worked out before I came. That’s probably it. You know how you work out and then an hour later, why am I still sweating?
CraveOnline: How did you keep cool with the outfit in the movie?
Aisha Tyler: Well, there wasn’t very much of it, was there? It was really interesting when they came to me and offered me the role and kind of described who she was going to be and it was going to be this really kind of elaborate costume system. It’s been fun. I haven’t been able to do anything that kind of radical in terms of wardrobe. Everything was custom made and so difficult to wear. I had to pee all the time. I would pee, I would zip up and I’d have to pee again. Everything was tight, they’d have to get the pliers out. It was really, really cool. The character’s supposed to be seven feet tall and I only scratch 5’6" so I had like six inch heels and then eight inches of hair, so I’d be up there kind of wobbling like the leaning tower of Pizza, with this bowling ball of hair on my head. It was fun.
CraveOnline: Did you enjoy it?
Aisha Tyler: It was great because every wardrobe, everything that everybody came in with was so amazing. The woman who did the costumes did everything from scratch. Everything was custom. She built all the beautiful kimonos, the Japanese player with the custom paddle. Everything was really, really custom. It was very, very beautiful. At the same time, whenever you tell people I’m in an epic movie set in the criminal underworld of competitive ping pong, they just go, "I’m sorry, what was that? What’d you say?" It’s like the Kumite of ping pong. The Kumite is what originally got me through the door. I’m a real nerd, like inside tiny little nerd man. The Kumite is what the original Enter the Dragon was based on and the Kumite is real. I just played a character on Boondocks who was a Kumite champ so I knew a little bit more about the Kumite than most people. There’s actually a really, really awful movie called The Kumite that is absolutely required renting from Blockbuster.
CraveOnline: Did you have to do any training like the guys who played ping pong?
Aisha Tyler: You had to do the physicality. Everybody had to kind of look like they were actually playing ping pong. We had consultants. We had consultants on set the whole time and they’d be like, "Cut, cut, cut. You’re not holding the paddle correctly. I’m sorry, you’re not professional." I was such a huge nerd when I was a kid, it was so fun to be in the company of my tribe and be able to think about that stuff. I was an unbelievable dork. I was the tetherball queen of my school. Let me just say that right now. They loved it. They were like, "So, you’re a big movie star? Okay big movie star. You’re sucking right now." It was awesome. They were disgusted. They were furious. It wasn’t just a fun ping pong movie for them. They were like, "This is just wrong. I will not be part of this travesty! This is a ping pong travesty!"
CraveOnline: Did you have to play the drama of this story?
Aisha Tyler: Yes, the drama. Should we talk about the pathos? You do. It was the real world and we play it like it was the real world, the competition was real. My character never cracks a smile the whole time. I was furious. I was ice cold. And I was an assassin. All the tournaments are to the death so I eliminated the loser, and I also kept score. That was my job.
CraveOnline: Was that your Vanna moment?
Aisha Tyler: That was, moving the little abacus counter which I had no idea how to do. It was really, really fun. You really did have to kind of play that the world was authentic and play that the stakes were authentic which is I think why the movie works. Also, I think Dan and George specifically really played that this world was real and that the peril was real. I mean, the unfortunate thing about this movie is that it was just a room full of hilarious people and we had so much fun together. Part of working with other people that understand comedy and the mechanics of comedy is that everybody wants everybody else to be funny. Everybody cues up everybody else’s joke. The unfortunate thing about doing improv, and I learned this too because I just did Reno 911, is you do hours of genius stuff and then when the movie’s out, it’s like "Where’s all my funny stuff?" It’s such a funny movie, they have such a circuit of stuff that the DVD is going to weigh like 20 pounds because we went crazy every day. A lot of it was pretty racy.
CraveOnline: Were there alternate versions of your final scene?
Aisha Tyler: Oh, it was great. I totally improvised. Every day there was like an hour’s worth of material that’s going to end up on the DVD, like Balls of Fury: No Ointment. It’ll be the R rated version. It was just over the top. There was this one thing when I had to bring Dan back to the tournament and we were like fighting and going down the hallway. All of a sudden we started making out on the floor. I’m like, "You guys have to put that in the movie. You have to put it in." Mrs. Mahogany’s heels are sticking up in the air. The whole stick was moving around. It was just so much fun. We had a good time.
CraveOnline: Did Christopher Walken improve?
Aisha Tyler: It was like a hybrid of the two. Chris really likes the material. I think if he says yes to a film, then he wants the script to be locked when he says yes. Then he kind of masters the material. He did improv quite a bit I felt like. He did the dialogue but he would always add a twitch or be some little tag, there’d be some little bit. Every take was a little different with him. He’s an incredible just kind of master of finding little moments of comedy in every scene. It wasn’t like he would make the dialogue up, but every take there was some extra little line in there, he’d do something physically different. He’s incredibly funny as a physical comedian too. He would just make up this incredibly funny physical stuff, a lot of stuff like you won’t see in this cut of the movie, because we’d just go. He’s also a very generous actor in that he wants you to be funny, he’ll be like, "Let’s try this together." He’s the one guy who could have walked in on the set and just been like, "Bring me my puppies and my bowl of gold." He was just so kind. I had the seven inch heels and the seven inch hair and he would help me down the stairs every time we’d step off stage. He’s just the nicest guy, although he’s a prankster. I was the one he pranked this show. He has a scene he does in every movie that I wish I’d known. I should have googled him before I did the film, where he told me it was his birthday and he was really sad. He’s like, "I’m blue." "Oh no, Chris, what’s wrong?" "It’s my birthday. I’m all alone. I think I’m going to call my mom." I didn’t know if his mom is still alive. His mom’s probably been dead for years. "Maybe my mom will cheer me up." So I ran around, I got everybody in wardrobe, "He doesn’t want anybody to know but let’s get him a cake." We got him an ice cream cake and balloons and all this stuff, put it in his trailer. We came in, and as soon as he sat up and looked, I was like, "You f*cker. I knew it." But we got free cake so it was great. It worked out fine. I had the biggest piece.
CraveOnline: He might have done that three times to other actors on the film.
Aisha Tyler: He must have. He did me. He got me. I was specifically the one who went running around being like, "You get this cake. He’s really sad." It was funny because he looked at me and it was just this tiny little smile and I was like, "Man." It was still so nice because he was so kind about it. He was like, "Oh, that’s so sweet." He hugged everybody and then he cut the cake for everybody. So he’s nice. There’s this bit where he has to get in and out of that little car. I don’t know what that thing’s called where the guys carry him in and he comes out of the curtain. So he had that huge collar on, so we did this seven minute thing where he couldn’t get back in. They had the whole thing where he was stuck trying to get into the thing. Then we would just do these incredibly funny improvs. He’s a really, really generous actor and so funny all the time. I just sit next to him and he tells stories about doing theater and New York in the ’60s and ’70s. David Proval in the movie was in Mean Streets and they’d be talking about DeNiro. Then he’d be doing his Marlon Brando impression. It was a Marlon Brando impression he developed hanging out with Marlon Brando. It was just such an extraordinary experience as an actor to just listen to him tell these stories. The only word that I could do as Chris, I have one. He told me this really filthy tell you that I can’t tell. I already dropped the F bomb so I can’t tell dirty stories. I will say that my one word that I can do as Chris is, "Wow." That’s my Chris wow. I’d come over and be like, "Let me tell you what Chris said to me today. Chris and me are like this. Chris is my BFF." Everyone else is like, "Shut up. Shut it. You and Chris." It was so amazing.
CraveOnline: Did you come up with backstory for Mahogany?
Aisha Tyler: There’s scene that didn’t make it in the movie where Karl Von Wolfschtagg writes me a check to throw the match. He writes me this check, which I still have, the check. It was written to me by Karl Von Wolfschtagg. One million gerstrudelslavich. I have it at home, I’m going to frame it. And I say to him, "You don’t have to pay me to be evil. I enjoy it. That’s what I do for a living." So my character is purely evil. So yes, I think that Mahogany’s just evil. And actually I think she took the job for the great outfits. You couldn’t work in McDonald’s with all that leather. There’s only a couple jobs where you get to wear that kind of outfit.