Andy Samberg on Hosting the Indie Spirits: 'We're Letting It Rip!'

Issue 8 Samberg - P 2013

Issue 8 Samberg - P 2013

The actor-comedian, 34, takes a break from shooting his Fox cop-comedy pilot to emcee the awards, geek out over movies and try some new material.

This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The Hollywood Reporter: How are you prepping to preside over the ever-eccentric Indie Spirit Awards?

Andy Samberg: I’m watching as many of the nominated films as possible. So far, I’ve seen all the best feature nominees. I’m a geek about this stuff! I went to film school and love going to Sundance just to see movies.

THR: How much leeway have you been given as to what you can and can’t do?

Samberg: They’re giving me a bunch of freedom, but I will definitely give the producers my material in advance. I have some writer friends lending a hand, and we’re doing some pretaped segments too. Whenever I explain what I’m planning to do, people say, “That sounds terrible.” Then we shoot it, and it works. So we’re letting it rip!

PHOTOS: 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards Purple Carpet Arrivals

THR: You’ve appeared in studio movies like Hot Rod and indies including Celeste and Jesse Forever, a Spirit nominee for best first screenplay. What do you like most about smaller productions?

Samberg: Well, it’s easier on your back and legs because you make so much less money -- it doesn’t weigh your pants down. (Laughs.) No, I’ve been on big movies that have a family vibe, but Celeste and Jesse felt very intimate; we were doing it because we believed in it. You’re pouring your heart into what you’re doing.

THR: The movie marked your first semiserious acting role, which surprised people.

Samberg: I definitely was aware of this fact while we were filming. I thought, “If I’m not good, we will find out in a really loud way right now.” But I got mostly positive feedback. I just wish the film had been seen by more people. The week it came out on iTunes, I got more emails and texts about it than when it was in theaters.

THR: As Spirits host, you can’t play favorites onstage. But are there specific Spirit-nominated films or performances that really grabbed you this year?

Samberg: Jack Black was so good in Bernie. I’ve been obsessed with him for years. Beasts of the Southern Wild is incredible. I didn’t know Keep the Lights On existed until I was asked to host the show. It’s really honest, and there’s a lot of crack-smoking -- I was not expecting that. As great crack-smoking films go, there’s New Jack City and Keep the Lights On.

STORY: Andy Samberg Preps for Spirit Awards Hosting Duties (Video)

THR: Hey, that’s a great double-feature idea.

Samberg: Yeah, Crack Night at the ArcLight!

THR: Who are you dying to meet at the show?

Samberg: I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan. I love Moonrise Kingdom. He’s a national treasure. We need to alert the National Treasury Society, which I believe is run by Nicolas Cage.

THR: Has 2012 host Seth Rogen given you any last-minute tips?

Samberg: He hasn’t, but seeing his monologue from last year made me excited.

STORY: Andy Samberg to Host Independent Spirit Awards

THR: Speaking of which, after three male hosts in a row, it’s probably time for a female emcee next year. Who would you pick?

Samberg: I officially vote for Quvenzhane Wallis!