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Vulture Talks to Pauly Shore

Hey, what the hell is Pauly Shore up to these days? Primarily, promoting Adopted, a mockumentary on celebrity adoptions he wrote and directed himself and shot in South Africa, out on DVD today. But he’s also doing stand-up shows, hustling a couple of scripts he wrote with his buddies, and working on a green-lit MTV pilot. Basically, he is not sitting around feeling sorry for himself: Shore is “way past” waiting for the calls to come in for auditions and the like, but he isn’t giving up on breaking back into the public eye. “You don’t know, man,” he says now. “That’s the whole thing, you just don’t know.” Vulture chats with the one-time movie star on the strange second phase of his career.

So how’d you end up doing a movie in South Africa?
I was booked over there to do shows, to do stand-up, and while I was over there, me and the promoter, who I made the producer of the film, we started hitting it off and I started thinking and dah dah dah … I knew if I went all the way to Africa I had to shoot a film and do something crazy, so I storyboarded the whole thing in my hotel and that was it. And we hired the kid and ran around and had some structure to the piece and you know, rock and roll.

Do you have a big fan base in South Africa?
I guess, yeah. I have people who know my movies down there.

The last movie you directed, Pauly Shore Is Dead, was a satirical look at your comeback attempt. Are you as concerned with a comeback this time around?
Not really. You know, a lot of people pull it off and a lot of people don’t pull it off.

Do you feel Hollywood demands something out of you to make it happen? Like there’s some kind of process you need to go through to be eligible for a comeback?
Yeah, it’s interesting that you said that. It’s almost like they get to dictate when. They’re not retarded, I think that they know what we all want, but they get to dictate when it happens.

Do you get a sense of what producers are looking for from you before they can take a chance?
Well, I think they need to see something — you know, new tape or something for them to see you do something different, for them to get it. You know what I mean? Or you just get a wild hair up someone’s ass, like a Quentin Tarantino or any of these directors that just, you know, are driving down the street and they just fucking go, “You know what, I’m gonna fucking just put this person in my film and everyone’s gonna call me a fucking idiot.”

Totally. Tarantino or any big-name director could …
You don’t know, man. That’s the whole thing, you don’t know.

Do you go on auditions now?
No, I don’t.

Why not?
‘Cause no one calls me for me to go on auditions.

Are you hoping that after this, the calls will start coming in again?
Eh, I’m not. I’m past that phase. I’m not expecting; I’m way past that phase. You gotta create your own thing. The good part about the Internet is now I get to create these little web shorts. If you wanna come across in a way that needs to make people green-light you in their projects, then you have to create that. The piece that I did on Funny or Die, if you look at “The Morning After,” have you seen that?

No, I just saw …
The Anderson Cooper?

I saw the Anderson Cooper and the “Twitter Surprise Party.”
Yeah. That was …

I enjoyed that. You didn’t like that one?
No, it was cool. You know, I didn’t really do anything.

You were making out with a lady.
No, look at “The Morning After.” You’ll freak out; it’s totally different. So that was something that I came up with that they did. Whatever, dude. It’s just one of those things. There’s no answers; there’s no mathematical equations. I’m not frustrated; I’m not pissed. I’ve been through there. I was there ten years ago, you know? I’ve been through that. I just wanna continue to do stuff that I enjoy doing at whatever level it is that I’m doing it. Whether it’s the big screen, the DVD, the web, the sitcom, the reality — whatever it is. Because it’s really about doing it. It doesn’t matter what level. You wanna be a hit but you can’t depend on it. You just can’t control that.

What do you make of the Betty White comeback? Or any of these situations where someone is basically around long enough that people eventually remember how great they are?

It happens every day and it doesn’t happen every day. It happened with Mickey Rourke; it happened with Robert Downey. It happens and it doesn’t happen. Then look at Tom Sizemore, he’s a mess. So you don’t know. At the end of the day, the thing that freaks me out is if I lose my inspiration. In life, in anything, there’s two types of people: There’s victims and leaders. Victims are people that are gonna blame Hollywood and that are gonna blame their agents and their managers for where they’re at, and leaders are going, “Fuck all that, I’m gonna create something for them so they can have it and they can send it out.”

So you moved to writing and directing yourself. How much of it did you figure out as you went along, and how much did you already know?
At the end of the day, I actually had a lot of experience because I was on MTV for many years. All the Totally Pauly’s, all the specials, I worked a lot directing and producing those with directors and producers of all the shows that I did. And then obviously I was on the set for many years starring in my own films, so I worked with directors and producers and the editors on a lot of that stuff. When I did Pauly Shore Is Dead, it was almost like bungee jumping. Like, “Stop fucking talking about it, just fucking do it and jump off and see what fucking happens.” And that was the beginning of the second part of my career.

You’re obviously comfortable with poking fun of yourself, but do you have in mind a limit to how far you’ll go?
Pauly Shore Is Dead is the ultimate bashing myself, but in a funny way. It’s Woody Allen; it’s Rodney Dangerfield; it’s that guy that people are bashing; it’s the victim. I play better as the victim. But you also gotta be able to dis other people, too — you don’t wanna be onstage the whole time talking about how things are fucked up or whatever.

In your daily life, from people that just see you on the street, what’s your sense of their perception of you?
Actually, the people that I meet every day are very positive: high energy, high-fives, “What’s up, what’s up” — very cool. I make people smile, just when they see me, they giggle. Just because, you know, I represent a time in their life The movies that I did, they were like [for] a generation, you know what I mean? That’s a pretty cool thing to have. They constantly play and they constantly are out there. You might have dissed Bio-Dome when it came out, but now you watch it, you’re like, “Oh, it’s so funny … “

Do you ever go back and check out the old movies?
Yeah, no, I mean if it pops up on TV, I’ll watch it for a minute or two then I’ll turn it off.

Your Bio-Dome co-star Stephen Baldwin has been in the news recently. Do you talk to him at all?

No, I gotta reach out to him and Andy Dick. They lost their way somewhere.

What do you think is going on with them?
The business is tough. Everyone out there, when they fall from grace, they react differently. For me, I got depressed and sad, but I did Pauly Shore Is Dead. That kind of got me out of whatever it was that I was going through after things slowed down. These guys, I don’t know what they’re doing. It’s hard to be rocking and rolling one day and a couple years later you’re like, fuck, living in a shed.

What’s up next for you?
I have an MTV pilot that they green-lit. It’s called The Shores and it’s a cross between Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Osbournes. It’s like a make-believe family. And I also have two scripts that I wrote with a couple of friends: One of them is a dark comedy and one of them is a thriller. The people that are my fans are gonna watch the thriller and be like, “Oh shit.”

Financially, you’re doing stand-up and all this other stuff — you have no issues, right?
I’m not living in a shed.

Vulture Talks to Pauly Shore