When most people go through a serial killer phase, you might get a little concerned, but you shouldn’t worry about Colin Hanks. The 33-year-old actor can be seen playing a fairly agreeable compulsive murderer opposite Ari Graynor in the new movie Lucky, and this September, he’ll join the cast of Showtime’s killer drama Dexter as a mysterious expert on ancient artifacts. In the meantime, Hanks has also been raising funds on Kickstarter for a new documentary he’s helming about the history of Tower Records. He called up Vulture recently to discuss all three projects, as well as a major objection he’s lobbying against the new Smurfs movie (which he’s prepared to drop if they’ll offer him a role).
I would imagine that on the page, Lucky looked like a very challenging piece of material, because the joke is how normal and agreeable we’re supposed to find your serial killer. Did you have to explicitly figure out how to make this guy sympathetic?
Not really, because if you’ve seen my face, there’s really nothing dangerous about me. [Laughs] I really felt like that was something that spoke for itself, so I didn’t necessarily have to play that hand, so to speak. More than anything else, I wanted to create this funny dichotomy between this serial killer and a guy who’s kind of a wallflower.
The most enjoyable thing about the movie for me is the chemistry you have with Ari Graynor, one of those comic actresses I think is so underrated.
Luckily, we’re just two people who got along instantly. Ari is one of those actress where, the first time I saw her in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, I said, “Okay, well, that person’s a genius.” We were able to work together in a way that’s really fun and organic because this film is different than most. Dark comedies are a lot different than regular, broad comedies, and we got to play in this new sandbox together.
You’ve gone from Lucky to Dexter. You’re really cornering the market here on serial killer projects, Colin.
But the two characters are completely polar opposites; they could not be more different. There’s not really a whole lot I can say about Dexter, to be quite honest, but I can say that the show is fantastic and incredibly well-made and I’m excited to be a part of it. The stuff that we’re doing this season is something I’m really excited to see as a fan of the show, and I think it’s going to be a fun season. All the Dexter fans will be very, very happy, I can say.
You’re working mostly with Edward James Olmos this season, right?
I am spending the majority of my time with Eddie, yes. He’s an absolute sweetheart. He pretty much tells everyone that he loves them, and at first it was a bit confusing because I thought that he knew everyone, but no, I found out that he just says that to everybody. [Laughs] But yeah, it’s been really great, and to get to do this with someone as talented as Edward James Olmos, it’s a good spot to be in. I feel like I’m batting fifth after the clean-up hitter.
Tell me about your Tower Records documentary. What kind of memories do you have of that place?
Well, I was born and raised in Sacramento, which is not only the capital of California but also the place where Tower Records began. The fact that it was based there was sort of a point of civic pride, so I’ve always had this connection with Tower based on its location but also its history, which is incredibly fascinating. Also, I spent a lot of time in Tower Records. I’m a huge music nerd, and Tower was instrumental to me when I was growing up.
As someone who grew up on brick-and-mortar record stores, how do you feel about music migrating to “the cloud”?
You know, there’s part of me that’s excited about the cloud concept, just for sheer accessibility. I’ve been able to find just as much interesting, exciting music through the Internet and iTunes as I would be able to find through a Tower Records. The personal interaction is not the same, and I’m not walking out of a store with a physical thing, so there’s definitely an element that is lost, for sure. But that’s just the way it is, and it’s not going to go back to the way it was. For me, I’m in the minority, because I’ll buy the vinyl if it comes with a digital download, every time. I’ve become a little bit of a vinyl fanatic.
Theatrical distribution is trending toward a cloud concept, too, with movies that bypass theaters and go straight to on-demand availability.
Listen, what you’re mentioning is something I’ve been talking about or years, which is how everyone in my industry, the movie industry, is looking at the music industry and going, “How do we avoid that collapse?” And I don’t know if you can, to be quite honest! Having come up in the era where movies are only movies if they’re released in the theater … I don’t know if that holds true anymore. I’ve been involved in some movies that have gone “direct-to-video,” and that used to not be a good thing, but now it’s different. It’s not just direct to video, it’s direct to your audience.
Finally, Colin: In a recent episode of Robot Chicken, you voiced Vanity Smurf of The Smurfs. Does it upset you that they’re not including Vanity in the new Smurfs movie?
What? I will be quite honest with you: I was very excited to do Vanity Smurf in Robot Chicken. It was the most fun fifteen minutes I’ve ever had voicing anything, and I am appalled that he is not in the Smurfs movie. If they make a Smurfs sequel — and I’m sure they will, because that movie’s going to be smurf-tastic — and they do not offer me the role of Vanity Smurf, I will be even more appalled.
We’re throwing the gauntlet down, then.
And this needs to be in your headline.