Comedy Impact Report '08: Bigscreen Big Shots

Of all the paths to acting stardom, skipping auditions and insisting you really want to direct would normally be a dead end. And yet, for Danny McBride, playing hard-to-get has made him one of the most sought-after comic collaborators.

A scene-stealer in two of the summer’s biggest comedies, “Tropic Thunder” and “Pineapple Express,” McBride first agreed to act as a favor to fellow directing students at film school in North Carolina. It started when dorm neighbor (and “Pineapple” director) David Gordon Green cast him in “All the Real Girls,” followed by a turn as an inept martial arts instructor in pal Jody Hill’s “The Foot Fist Way.” The latter caught the eye of many in Hollywood, and before long, McBride was being invited to work on movies from the likes of Judd Apatow, Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell.

So far he’s played slightly bizarre supporting characters, but he’ll soon be the lead in HBO’s “East Bound and Down,” a series he co-created with “Foot Fist” collaborators Hill and Ben Best.

With a role in 2009 summer tentpole “Land of the Lost” opposite Ferrell on the horizon, McBride still considers his rise to stardom as training. “Acting roles have been an incredibly good education,” he says. “They have taught me a lot for when I get behind the camera.”

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