Directed by “Zombieland’s” Ruben Fleischer, “30 Minutes or Less” revolves around Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life collides with the big plans of two wannabe criminal masterminds, Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson). The lowlifes kidnap Nick and strap a time bomb to him – with the promise that they’ll blow him up unless he robs a bank. With only a few hours to pull off the impossible task, Nick enlists the help of his ex-best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). As the clock ticks, the two must deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.
The screenwriters wrote the role of Dwayne with Danny McBride in mind. Dwayne is a complete heel, and the plan he sets in motion is as doomed to failure as it is half-baked and completely inane – but still, it was important to the filmmakers that the audience be able to connect with the character. In writing the role to be played by McBride, Jesse Eisenberg says, the screenwriters were able to take advantage of the unique qualities he brings to his roles. “Danny has a unique way of being intimidating and terrible but also sweet and endearing and funny,” says Eisenberg. “That’s especially important for this movie, because his character isn’t just a villain, he has an arc and his own story line and you almost root for him at certain points. Almost.”
“Danny feels absolutely no need to have his character liked by the audience on any level – he’s not looking for their approval,” says producer Stuart Cornfeld. “But as far as I’m concerned, because of that, it just makes me love his character that much more.”
Fortunately, McBride wanted to play the part, and further, he was enticed by Fleischer’s vision for the film. “I loved `Zombieland,’ so when I heard he was interested in me for this film, I was flattered and thrilled and wanted to see what he would do with this movie,” he says. “Everything in it, from the comedy to the chases to the action, seemed like something that would be right for him to bite into.”
McBride was able to see what makes his character tick. “We all have been or know someone that has been desperate at some time in their life. He’s kind of like a younger, more extreme, desperate version of me,” he says.
For part of the movie, Dwayne is in disguise as he and Travis wear monkey masks. There’s a certain upside to it, he says. “You don’t have to go through hair and makeup. You don’t get touch-ups. You just put the mask on and you wave your hands around. It’s nice.”
Dwayne’s partner in crime is Travis, played by Nick Swardson. “Travis idolizes Dwayne, and because of that, he’s at Dwayne’s mercy,” says Swardson. “It’s great playing a bad guy. We’re not evil or anything – just incredibly misguided. It’s fun to play, even if you have to wear an unfortunate mustache.”
“Dwayne is definitely the lead dog of the pack of two,” says McBride. “Travis is a very loyal, smart, and inventive follower.”
Playing the role, Swardson says, it was important to keep their relationship in mind. “I would see Danny’s choices, and I’d know that Travis would copy him, go off of whatever Dwayne was like,” he says. “Travis is very timid – I can remember what that’s like, because I was timid as a little kid, and I had bigger friends that I idolized. I used that vibe with Travis. Danny helped a lot.”
Opening soon across the Philippines, “30 Minutes or Less” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.