Q&A: Dustin Milligan On Being A Male Gigolo In 'Extract' & Leaving '90210' For Good
Dustin discusses what it's like to work on a Mike Judge film, his childhood porn watching habits and figuring out why Kristen Wiig thinks he's a perv.
Mike: The production notes from "Extract" describe Brad as a "dull-witted gigolo." Accurate?
Dustin Milligan: I've heard "dull-witted," I've heard "dim-witted," "nit-witted," "no-witted," "slow-witted." Certainly lacking in the wit department. And this is his first time trying to be a gigolo so, yeah, he's naive about what a gigolo really does and certainly very, very stupid. Jason Bateman's character... it's funny just how frustrated and upset he's getting trying to deal with my character. But, yes, certainly dim-witted.
Mike: And you have a scene straight out of a 70's porn scene as the pool guy.
Dustin Milligan: Yeah. Seventies and they really over-saturated the lighting. I'm recalling a seduction and they're over-saturating the lighting so it's sparkly and dreamy. But this is a technique I've seen from the 70's to the mid 90's late night porn. Soft core, usually. As a young man, I was trying to watch any time I could later on a Friday or Saturday night on channel 40, channel 23 and channel 34. Sorry, I just went into a little detail about my porn watching...
Mike: In New York I believe it's channel 35.
Dustin Milligan: Heh, yeah. No, but certainly, yeah, it's like a porn. It's kind of my character's version of what happened.
Mike: Oh, so we're seeing it the way he remembers it.
Dustin Milligan: Exactly, I'm recalling the story to Jason Bateman's character. That's how I tell the story, it's all sexy like.
Mike: And the experience of working with Mike Judge?
Dustin Milligan: It was amazing. I have always been such a huge fan of "Beavis and Butt-head." "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" is one my top five movies of all time list. I was still shooting "90210" at the time when I went in for this audition and couldn't believe I was auditioning for a Mike Judge movie. When I started taking a look at the part, I don't know, it was such an overwhelmingly surreal experience because the guy's a legend. He makes movies only so often and they always have this quirky -- that's a terrible word to use -- but they always have this different edge or vibe about them -- again, awful words to use. I was super nervous but there's something really calming in the way his voice sounds. It's like a combination of Hank Hill and Butt-head and that put me at ease.
Mike: When you look at his films -- "Office Space," "Idiocracy" -- these aren't films that did particularly well at the box-office, but did extremely well after their life in theaters. I think those were both at Fox, but with this one at Miramax, they're really promoting it well. It's everywhere. "Extract" has a chance to buck that trend.
Dustin Milligan: Obviously that's what everyone was crossing their fingers for while we were shooting. I remember talking to people from Miramax -- those that would talk to me (laughs) -- and I was like, "Oh, what do you think about the movie? When do you think it's going to come out?" That was before I heard September 4 which is traditionally box-office poison. Labor Day weekend is supposed to be where everyone dumps their movies.
Mike: I never understood that. Every other three day weekend is a big to-do, blockbuster weekend.
Dustin Milligan: That's why, to me, it seems like a smart move. They're promoting it really heavily and with Mike Judge there is this automatic audience. I just want people to see the movie. It is truly maybe one of two jobs in my entire career I'm actually proud of. I've seen this movie and I'm proud of it.
Mike: And Brad is quite a contrast to Ethan Ward from "90210."
Dustin Milligan: Well, yeah, it's funny because I show more muscles and skin as Brad than I ever did as Ethan Ward. It's interesting because when I first signed on to "90210" -- I was one of the first actors that signed on for that show -- and the way he was originally written was more like Brad is. He was supposed to be kind of stupid and slow and more like your traditional jock. So, it's kind of a good thing he got rewritten in a less definitive direction and I got to use some of my dumb acting skills on Brad.
Dustin Milligan, Mila Kunis 'Extract' © Miramax Films
Dustin Milligan: Not going to happen. He's not coming back.
Mike: Why did your time on "90210" come to an end?
Dustin Milligan: It was just one of those things where there were regime changes happening behind the scenes with the show. The show was really struggling to figure out it's own identity, what it was really going to be. Where exactly it stood in this group of teen soaps. Again, it was just one of those things with Ethan, he was a character that should have fit a jock character. It makes sense in a high school. Pretty standard, stereotypical, one of your clique leaders or whatever. It just ended up being that nothing was really written for the guy that could make him stand out. And at the end of the season I'd been trying to talk with the executive producers and the head writers and just saying, "What can we really do with this guy? Where's it going?" And, ultimately, he ended up moving to Montana. It's one of those questions at the end of the day: If we're not using this character, do we need him around anymore?
Mike: I can tell just by the tone of your voice which character you enjoy talking about more -- promoting a current project aside.
Dustin Milligan: I'll reiterate again, this is one of two jobs I've been truly, truly proud of. And working with Jason Bateman. Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck -- we have a few scenes together and I've told this story before but it's totally true. When you first see my character I'm sitting in this small room with Jason and Ben and I have my hands positioned a certain way so the camera can't tell but my left hand is pinching my right thigh as hard as I possibly can so that I won't laugh. The nuances in Jason performance: his reactions, how he expresses his frustration with all the characters. He sort of carries us through this world. He's the only one with any common sense.
Mike: There are few things funnier than one of Jason Bateman's deadpans.
Dustin Milligan: I was apologizing the whole time to Jason and he's like, "Ahh, I don't even notice that you're giggling like a child."
Mike: I've been around Kristen Wiig before -- very, very briefly -- backstage at "SNL." She seems like a naturally funny person.
Dustin Milligan: You know what's funny? I don't know if I creeped her out or was just too pervy for her liking but... Her role in this movie isn't as crazy as a lot of her characters on "SNL." In this, her character and the humor is a lot more subtle. It's pretty low key. Again, I don't know. There's this one part where I have to rub suntan lotion onto her back, she was kind of just talking to nobody and I was the only one who was even close. She was cracking these little jokes that weren't even meant for me. But I got to hear them and they were pretty funny as I was messaging suntan lotion onto her back.
Mike: To me, working on a Mike Judge film, the scariest thing would be -- because he's made so many characters that are iconic and people often do impressions of those characters -- I think the hardest thing would be to keep reminding yourself to not accidentally do an impression in front of him.
Dustin Milligan: That's the thing, there's a million questions I wanted to ask him. He's intimidating because he's so normal but, again, he starts talking and you're like, "That is Hank Hill and Butt-head if they make love and make a child." I guess that would be Hankhead. Or Butthill. [...] Apparently he has a crazy ranging temper, I never saw that...
Mike: Ohh. I didn't know that.
Dustin Milligan: Yeah, there were rumors about this crazy enraged Mike Judge but I never saw it once. I don't think anyone on "Extract" had seen it either, but from other movies or something. I don't know. It certainly doesn't seem like he has much of a temper. Although, I heard he was a Marine, so maybe.
Mike: Is it fair to compare "Extract" to "Office Space"?
Dustin Milligan: It's less specific to the cubicle life. This is more a story about Jason's character. Some of it happens in the factory but not a lot takes place there. I think there are similarities between "Office Space" and "Extract" in that reactionary humor; like playing off of Jason Bateman's deadpans all the time. It's just a lot of, in my mind, hilarious dry humor. I'm from Canada so I like dry, sarcastic humor and there's a lot of that. Then there's people getting their balls blown off... so you have a little of something for everybody.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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