The Addams Family 2 Star Bill Hader Wants You To Watch More Classic Horror [Interview]

Bill Hader's been busy. He's done voice work for a couple of characters on Marvel's "M.O.D.O.K." series, gotten the ball rolling on "Barry" season 3 (and 4!), and now he's voicing the mysterious mad scientist Dr. Cyrus Strange in "The Addams Family 2," in theaters now. I got the chance to chat with Hader via Zoom about everything ooky, spooky, and kooky, and even got some recommendations for some scary pre-Code movies to watch on Halloween!

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

"You get to be able to be arch in a way that you don't get to be in live-action very much."

Before you got involved with this project, were you a big "Addams Family" fan?

Yeah, I mean, I remember watching it on, I think Nick at Nite was when I was on. And then I was really in the perfect age for the Barry Sonnenfeld movies in the '90s. And so, when the first movie came out, I watched it and thought it was great, so I thought it was exciting to be asked to come back and to be a part of the second one.

If you could play an Addams Family member in a live-action version, who would you want to play?

Oh, man, I guess Fester. I mean, he's just so positive.

That's awesome. If the Addams family were real, would you want to be a part of the creepy kooky family?

I don't think I would want to be a part of it, but I would like to be able to go and hang out and visit and barbecue and stuff.

Cyrus is kind of a fun, mad scientist kind of character. Did you draw from any characters in film or TV to sort of put him together?

No. He's kind of a archetype that you see in a lot of those kind of sci-fi kind of old horror movies or something. And so, it was nice to be able to play that guy.

Just kind of go camp.

Yeah. Well, you get to be able to be arch in a way that you don't get to be in live-action very much. And Conrad, the director who I'd worked with before, it was kind of a thing we didn't have to really talk about too much. He's mad scientist. I was like, "Got it."

Considering the Craft

Can you tell me a little bit about the differences between filming live-action and doing voice acting? How is it different acting for the camera versus just a microphone?

Well, the thing a lot of people are surprised about is how exhausting it is when you do voice-over, because you're just kind of doing it over and over and over and over again, a scene or a line. You're not acting with anybody, it's just you and the script. And so, it can get really exhausting because on a film set, you're acting with somebody and then they say cut, then you have downtime at least a couple minutes to grab about a glass of water, talk, it's very social. But yeah, there's something kind of lonely about the other one.

Addams Family is really cool because it combines horror and comedy, and you've done a bit of both. I think back to the "Documentary Now!" that very first "Sandy Passage" episode is the perfect mesh of horror and comedy. And I was wondering if you feel like there's a sinew between those two genres.

Yeah, there is. I think you're both trying to get a big reaction out of the audience. So much of horror and comedy is also about pacing and timing and how you play it, how you lay the story out, surprise. So much of it about surprise. The really good ones, too, they're very structured and loose at the same time. It's a weird combination where you have to be kind of intuitive, but then also have deep precision. Whereas like with a drama or something like that, you're just playing the emotions of those scenes, and it doesn't have to end. It has a rhythm, but it's just different. But I mean, the biggest thing I think about in comedy and horror is at least for me, you're thinking of the audience. You're trying to elicit something out of the audience, a scream or a laugh or both.

Halloween Plans and Spooky Pre-Code Movies

Do you think any of the other characters that you've played, whether it's Stefon or Barry or any of them, do you think they would do well in a horror movie or in an Addams Family movie?

I think Stefon thinks he is in a horror movie. I think the Addams Family would not want Stefon in their house because it would burn down. And then Barry, just he's kind of a basket case, just a lot of fun.

Do you have any ooky spooky Halloween plans?

No, I like this time of year because TCM and Criterion Channel, all places like that start playing horror movies and old grade horror movies. I also love Halloween specials, like Charlie Brown and stuff like that.

Are there any of those old black and white movies, you said you got to draw from those for your character, for Cyrus, are there any that you can think of directly? I mean, I thought of "Young Frankenstein" a little bit.

Yeah. I mean, there's not a specific one you pull off of. It's just kind of a combination of all of them. But this wasn't a draw from for Cyrus, but movie I recently watched that they came out with a new restoration of, was "Doctor X." "Doctor X" and the "Mystery of the Wax Museum," these Michael Curtiz horror films from the '30s and they're beautiful. They look amazing. Those are great, just weird. It's really gruesome, it's pre-Code so there's a lot of cannibalism and stuff, but then there's also this really weird comic relief characters in it. I mean, they're one, gorgeous, those early color, but they're also just incredibly strange.

And gorgeous and strange is kind of how I would describe the Addams Family.

Yeah, totally.

Is there anything else that you want folks to know about the movie before they go see it?

It's just a fun movie and it's a perfect Halloween movie. I'm a parent, so it's nice when you can find something that you can watch with your kids and everybody has a good time.

Awesome. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

I'm really boring. I like bite-size Twix. I feel like I'm really boring, but if I see those I'm in trouble. I attack those.

"The Addams Family 2" is in theaters nationwide.