‘Office Christmas Party’s’ Rob Corddry Reflects on His Early Career

Before he was a “Daily Show” correspondent (from 2002 to 2006), or created the world of “Childrens Hospital” (starting in 2008), or took a dip in “Hot Tub Time Machine” (in 2010), Rob Corddry appeared in “The Manchurian Candidate,” an Off Broadway production (or, as Corddry remembers it, “more like Way, Way Off Broadway”) directed by John Lahr. The show was reviewed by Variety on July 18, 1994. Although he is listed in the cast, Corddry was not singled out in the review. The production from Art & Work Ensemble was panned, but Corddry survived and has enjoyed a varied career as an actor, writer, and producer ever since. After starring in Paramount’s “Office Christmas Party,” his upcoming projects include the crime thriller “Shimmer Lake” and two comedies: “The Layover,” directed by William H. Macy, and Ken Marino’s “How to Be a Latin Lover.”

Do you remember much about “The Manchurian Candidate”?

I think it was the first play I was cast in, fresh out of college. My girlfriend, one of my buddies, and I were all cast, and we were very excited. We’re talking about John Lahr. We had no idea of his accomplishments at the time — it was more like, “This is the cowardly lion’s son who wrote this thing. We’ve made it.”

Who did you play?

I was a one of a bunch of utility players who played a bunch of small roles. I believe I had a couple of lines as a reporter … maybe a bartender? Although that might have been my friend Mike. I was definitely a soldier at some point.

Was the play really that bad?

It was not a good production, although at the time I thought, “This is going straight to the top.” The review is very accurate.

Did you read it back then?

I don’t remember that review, but, boy, I’m very proud of my 23-year-old self for getting his name in Variety. Good for him.

Still, it must have bruised your confidence.

I’m fine reading reviews. As a matter of fact, I enjoy it, because I have as hard a time believing compliments. It’s really all just noise to me unless something rings true. And I’m pretty honest with myself, as I was back then — if I read something that hits home, there’s value in that. I learned that after being called a “bouncy” Lucio in “Measure for Measure.” Out of context, it doesn’t sound so bad, but …

Why did that stick with you?

I had experienced stage fright for the first and, really, last time in my career. I’d had a hard time in that play: I was mostly nervous and afraid. So I called on my bag of tricks — which is a little harder in Shakespeare, but doable — so I could get through it. But “bouncy” was exactly what I was. In general, every Corddry male has a bounce to their walk. But the performance itself was a little bouncy.

What happened after “The Manchurian Candidate”?

I learned the power of no. Unless you’re producing your own material, “no” is the only real power an actor has. It’s very empowering to be comfortable enough to say no. After that play, I really got along with that company. They asked the three of us to join as members. We thought about it, but it didn’t seem right; it felt like a fallback plan. You could stop there and do it forever. So I said no to steady — though unpaid, as I remember it — work. That was a valuable lesson.

What if acting hadn’t worked out?

I had no fallback plan. I was very dedicated to becoming an actor. And I knew I was going to do it, because the law of averages had to work out at some point. I figured I was going to be doing this for the rest of my life.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

  • Kristen Stewart

    French Director Olivier Assayas Pays Tribute to Kristen Stewart at Deauville

    French director Olivier Assayas paid tribute to Kristen Stewart, whom he directed in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper,” at the Deauville American Film Festival on Friday evening. Stewart received a honorary award in Deauville before the French premiere of Benedict Andrews’s “Seberg” in which the actress stars as Jean Seberg, a French New [...]

  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was

    Film Review: 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was'

    Liam Gallagher is nearly as fascinating a rock ‘n’ roll figure as he thinks he is … which is saying a lot. After the breakup of Oasis, one of the most self-avowedly arrogant stars in pop culture found himself severely humbled, fighting to become relevant again without the help of Noel, his ex-bandmate and, for [...]

  • The Vast of Night

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Vast of Night'

    It’s the first high school basketball game of the season and all of Cayuga, N.M., population 492, is cheering on the Statesmen at the gym. Except for the town’s two brightest kids, Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick), who are strolling through the empty darkness to their respective jobs as a radio DJ and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content