Clark DukePhoto: Patrick McMullan
If you’re the kind of Superbad fan that we are, you’ve probably lost track of how many times you’ve seen the movie. What’s more, you’ve likely committed to memory the bios of the entire cast or crew, from major players like the adorable Michael Cera and director Greg Mottola (who, for the record, is not Judd Apatow) to guys like Clark Duke — you know, Party Teenager #1. Though the Arkansas native and recent college grad had only a small role in this summer’s most celebrated teenage penis comedy, he’s grown increasingly popular for his mockumentary-style Web show Clark and Michael (which also stars Superbad’s Cera) and his role as geeky, conservative Dale on the frat-tastic ABC Family show Greek. Duke spoke with Vulture about Larry David, his plan to move into the Playboy mansion, and his new bandmate, Kristen Bell.
Your character on Greek is a very religious, nerdy engineering student. Are you basing him on anyone you know?
I actually was raised Baptist. I’m from the South, so you definitely know a lot of conservative people. I just wanted to portray him as not a cartoon character. He totally believes in what he’s saying. I was in the honors program in college too, but I’m not a math guy at all.
You produced the pilot of Clark and Michael for your senior thesis. How did you and Michael Cera come up with the idea?
The show was pretty much like verbatim conversations. Our trick was we just started writing down everything. I mean, I know Larry David carries a notebook around, so that made us feel good.
Were you a fan of Arrested Development when you and Michael met?
It was so weird because I had literally, like, two days before that bought the first season on DVD. One day he had forgotten his key card. I let him in, and we realized we lived like next door to each other. At first we would just watch movies and drink milk shakes and play guitar. We were both really obsessed with Weezer.
You play fictional versions of yourselves in the show. Are you similar to your characters?
Hopefully not a whole lot. The characters are such assholes. That’s why the last episode’s my favorite because it’s the only time when the Clark character loses his swagger. But then as soon as they get any success, it comes straight back and they don’t learn any kind of lesson or humility. That’s sort of a comment on the industry too. So many of these guys like fail upwards. It’s not me — not yet. Give me a couple years.
Your characters are trying to pitch TV execs on a show. Did you have similar experiences pitching CBS with Clark and Michael?
Not really, we had to go in a couple of times for formal-ish meetings, but pretty much from the get-go, they just kind of wanted to buy it. But that’s sort of like what my life has become now — just pitch meetings. It’s like be careful what you write. I’m going to write a movie next where I win the lottery and move into the Playboy mansion.
Are you still in a band?
I don’t know. Me and Mike had a band called the Long Goodbye, but we never play shows. I think me and Kristen Bell are going to start a band. It’s called Kung-Fu Professor. This is a pretty new development, like last week. We met through Edgar Wright, the director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. I play guitar and a little bit of keys, and she plays keys and sings. I sort of aspire to sing between, like, cigarettes. I give it my all. I got a lot of heart.
Okay, last thing: Where did you get those outfits you wear in the beginning of the show?
I have a huge costume section in my closet — wigs, mustaches, the whole thing. Halloween’s my favorite holiday, so I have a lot of weird stuff. Like those rhinestone shirts we wear were my mother’s — she was in pageants. I’m a big fan of matching outfits in general. Those were not even special purchases. Isn’t that weird? Make of that what you will, America. —Lori Fradkin
Clark and Michael [Official site]Internet-TV Star Clark Duke to Form Band With Kristen Bell