Louis C.K. on Lorne Michaels' 'Horace and Pete' Advice, How the Show Almost Starred Jack Nicholson
Plus three other juicy tidbits revealed by the comedian during an interview on Marc Maron's 'WTF' podcast.
Louis C.K.'s promotional tour continued with a stop in Marc Maron's garage, where the two comics recorded the 700th edition of Maron's WTF podcast.
In the 90-minute-plus interview, C.K. revealed both the run-up to and the details of the casting and creative process on his self-financed Horace and Pete web series. Among them: the A-list actors initially approached for key roles on the dark comedy, including Joe Pesci and Jack Nicholson.
Here are five highlights from the conversation:
Lorne Michaels gave C.K. advice — but he didn't take it
C.K. was adamant that he didn't want the pressure or obligation for Horace and Pete to have to be funny, much less print money. “I knew what I wanted it to feel like, and I knew the idea of something that looks like a sitcom, the way a sitcom feels theatrical, but with no laugh track,” he told Maron early in the interview. When he told Lorne Michaels about the idea, the Saturday Night Live creator urged him to reassess his plan. "He begged me to get financing from somebody," notes C.K., in Michaels' voice. "And he said, 'No one's going to congratulate you for paying for it. No one.' And I was like, 'I don't want to have to talk anybody into the shit I'm doing.' "
Steve Buscemi signed onto Horace and Pete first
The Boardwalk Empire star had called C.K. to be part of one of his charity events, and before hanging up asked C.K. how he was doing. "We had never really chatted," said C.K., "and I'm like, 'Oh I'm alright, how are you doing?' 'Ah, Boardwalk Empire's over, just sitting around.' " After they hung up, he called Buscemi back right away and asked if he was interested in being on a TV show with him. Buscemi's response: "Maybe." They met up in New York City the following day, where C.K. pitched the still evolving series idea to Buscemi. He signed on, on the spot, to play C.K.'s brother, Pete.
Joe Pesci, Jack Nicholson and Christopher Walken were all approached for the part of Uncle Pete
For the part of Uncle Pete, C.K. initially approached Joe Pesci. He went to Pesci's home, and though he ultimately passed on the part, Pesci helped him write and form the character. He then asked Jack Nicholson (via Michaels), who turned it down. "My phone rings," recalls C.K. "Jack comes on and he says, 'I just wanted you to know the writing is terrific, but I'm not gonna do it.... You know what I did today? I went out to the tree in my yard and I sat under it and I read a book. And when I was done, I went back inside.' " Finally, he took it to Christopher Walken, who liked the script but thought it was too easy for a guy like him to play that part. “He said, ‘Tell Louis why don’t you get someone who you would never expect to do this, ' ” C.K. said. It was ICM Partners' Toni Howard, who is both Walken and Edie Falco’s agent, who convinced Louis to talk to (and later hire) Alan Alda.
Edie Falco has a magazine interview to thank for her Horace and Pete role
C.K. was reading an interview with Falco pegged to the end of Nurse Jackie when an alarm bell sounded: "She says in the interview, 'I love episodic television. I don't like movies, I like TV....' They ask her, 'Would you ever be in a comedy?' and she said, 'No. Because comedies don't run deep enough,' " he says. "And I looked at her face in the magazine and I said you're going to be in my show — I said it out loud, like a psycho." He then wrote her character into the show, Horace's sister Sylvia, whom she would play later. "I went to the Emmys in September, and Edie Falco was sitting there with a seat open next to her. So I just went and sat down next to Edie, and I said, ‘Hey, I’m writing a TV show. It’s with me and Steve Buscemi, and I want you to be in it.' And she said ‘Sure!’ " She gave him her P.O. box, and he sent her the scripts. Two days later, he received a text: "Hi, this is Edie. I'm in."
C.K. was supposed to do seven seasons of Louie
C.K. broke the news to FX Networks CEO John Landgraf in late May 2015 that he was done with Louie — at least for now. “I just told him that I didn’t know if I would ever make another one -- I might, but I needed it to be okay if I never do,” C.K. said. He discussed how it was a difficult conversation to have as he had “kind of” promised Landgraf that he was going to complete at least seven seasons. Then he added, “And I’m only saying 'kind of' because I’m ashamed at how much I had really promised it.” Bummed as he was, Landgraf turned around and renewed C.K's overall deal (with a nice pay bump) to make other TV shows for the cadre of FX networks, including Zach Galifianakis' Baskets and his Louie co-star Pamela Adlon's forthcoming comedy Better Things.