Pompous – not exactly a trait Jemaine Clement was aiming for when he tossed aside his Aussie accent and instead replaced it with the vocal chords of a Brit. Sure, his character in Gentlemen Broncos may not have been the most likable of guys, yet, in playing a fictional critically acclaimed science-fiction author named Chevalier, all Clement could hear from anyone who watched the film was that his character was “pompous.”
“I keep hearing pompous,” Clement jokingly told Buzzine in an exclusive interview. “I don’t think I wanted to go for pompous exactly. He’s a little vain, and the English accent can lend itself to pomposity.”
Still, such is the price to pay for the role he accepted – a once-successful author who finds himself down on his luck, struggling to do anything meaningful with a career that apparently peaked too early.
“My job is to pick on teenagers,” the Flight of the Concords star said in describing his role in Gentlemen Broncos. “I like play off-beat characters, and I’ve often been unlikeable on purpose…sometimes.”
Of course, Clement did not have to try too hard to be purposefully “unlikeable,” especially when his role called for talking down on aspiring teenage writers and plagiarizing some of their work. But still, while Clement does not entirely think Chevalier is pompous, the New Zealander instead just described his villainous character as “desperate.”
“He’s not a bad guy,” the 35-year-old comedian, musician and actor added about his unique character. “I think, in a lot of movies, the bad guy…you don’t know why they are bad. But Chevalier, he’s not bad; he’s just desperate.”
In developing his character, Clement had very little to go on, especially since he barely interacted with the cast. Most of his time was spent either alone or dealing with large audiences, as opposed to having genuine dialogue with the film’s leading stars, which included Michael Angarano.
Relying on a cleverly written script, Clement mostly relied upon himself to develop the unique mannerism of Chevalier, ultimately making him an over-the-top villain who meant well but just struggled.
“I almost didn’t work with the cast because my scenes are either by myself or talking to large groups of people,” he said. “I had to feed off myself.”
Beyond his character, Clement observes that what makes Gentlemen Broncos work is not the fact that it’s just another movie in the cloth of Napoleon Dynamite (as the film is directed by Jared and Jeshua Hess). Instead, the film, with another unique view of the world, is more about making certain observations of people instead of actually defining them. In particular, Clement said the film, while a comedy, it is not about poking fun of the culture of science-fiction or those who are trying to escape reality.
Ultimately, the New Zealander believes Gentlemen Broncos is less commentary and more observation.
“It’s not a sci-fi movie; it’s about sci-fi,” Clement candidly said. “It’s not an escapist movie; it’s about escapism of these characters.”
As for Clement and his post-Gentlemen Broncos career, he is not searching for an escape route. All he wants to do is just enjoy life in the moment, live day-to-day and make the best of his budding career as an entertainer.
“I always plan short-term. I am not the Tom Cruise type with a master plan. I enjoy acting,” Clement harped. “If something is fun and easy, I’ll do it.”