I’VE NEVER HAD an actor attack me with a couch cushion before. But as we pull open the flimsy door of Jason Biggs’s trailer, out tumbles a body-length maroon cushion, knocking my escort, a producer, square in the face. The lanky frame of Joel David Moore—culprit, mastermind—fills the doorway. He stands there giggling, taping the whole thing on his iPhone. Biggs is cracking up behind him. Leave two thirtysomething men alone long enough, and apparently they’ll start setting traps.
Biggs (of American Pie fame) and Moore
(Avatar ’s nerdy scientist Norm) have worked together before, in a short film with Anthony Hopkins. But they’ve certainly bonded while costarring in Stephen Gyllenhaal’s new political comedy Grassroots, about one of Seattle’s more colorful city council races. Moore plays Grant Cogswell, a local shit-stirrer who galvanized the public with his pro-monorail platform (and polar bear costume) in 2001. Biggs plays former Stranger reporter and campaign manager Phil Campbell, who helps give Cogswell a fighting chance against incumbent Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer).
Ever since Grassroots set up production on Capitol Hill in June, Biggs and Moore have been men about town. Biggs threw out the opening pitch at a Mariners game; Moore rode the monorail. “It’s silent, and it’s pretty—but it goes, like, three blocks. I don’t understand,” Moore says, taking a drag on his cigarette. Then they got to know the city properly: through its cocktails. “Best drink in town? Made by my buddy Murray [Stenson] at Zig Zag ,” Moore says. “Murray says whaddya want? I say brown stuff. He says of the bourbon fashion? I say sure.… We flirt a little bit,” he deadpans, “then he buys me a drink. No, I buy it.”
Biggs and Moore riff off each other like brothers, mocking each other’s claim to fame (Biggs: “How many times is he going to mention Avatar in this interview? It’s un-fucking-believable”). When they’re on the film set they’re all business. Biggs often paces the room, muttering his lines to himself, while Moore sits calmly, frequently engrossed with his iPhone. But after the long days of shooting, things get silly back at the W Hotel. Traps are set. Moore, giddy on Bacardi 151, stacks a pile of pillows and luggage behind his hotel room door—and throws in an ottoman for good measure. He calls Biggs, enticing his victim with more booze, hoping he’ll walk right into his wall of furniture. Just search “Trap Joel David Moore” on YouTube and you’ll get a visual.
“Mind you, I’m lit at this point,” Moore says, referring to the clip. “And whether it does or doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter—because I’m still going to think it’s the funniest thing in the world.”