Yahoo Entertainment’s Lyndsey Parker sat down with Weird Al Yankovich to discuss his new biopic Weird, and just accurate it really is, or isn’t.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So I'm completely excited to talk about this completely accurate, 100% accurate film, Weird. I know the fact checkers were working overtime on this one, for sure.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Yes. [LAUGHS]
LYNDSEY PARKER: You know, so yeah, maybe you took a few liberties. But there are some things that I want to, you know, kind of separate the fact from the fiction-- the whole Madonna thing, and the fact that, without giving too much away, she approaches you and uses you, evil woman that she is, because she wants that-- she wants that, you know, that juicy Yankovic bump.
There's this big plot point about the, like, Yankovic bump, that basically, when you parody a song, a real life song by a real life artist, it causes their sales or their streams to spike.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: You know, there are some nuggets of truth sprinkled throughout the movie, most of which sound as fake as everything else. But they're absolutely true. And this Yankovic bump thing is actually one of the things that's based in reality. Because I have heard from a number of artists that their sales went up when-- when my parody came out.
We heard from Nirvana's label, profusely thanking me. They said, oh, we've sold, like, another million units of "Nevermind" after "Smells Like Nirvana" came out. You know, I don't have all the data in front of me. But it's sort of-- it certainly happened more than once.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I'm surprised you don't have the data in front of you, with all the fact checkers you had to, you know--
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: You'd think. You'd think that.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I think it's hilarious that there are people who think a lot of this is real. But we all know that all, like, biopics, like, take liberties. If you watch "Bohemian Rhapsody" or whatever, when you watch "Rocketman," Elton John, I'm pretty sure he didn't levitate at the Troubadour when he played. You know, we all take the liberties.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: But-- but like that-- like at the Troubadour, I mean, we know that they didn't levitate. But some people will probably think, oh, he really did play "Crocodile Rock" at the Troubadour even though he hadn't written that until four years later, you know? It's just, like, the little things like that that they changed, which drove me nuts, you know? Like, why did you change that?
And you have to realize it's not a documentary. It's a Hollywood biopic. It's entertainment. But it drove me-- as a fan, it drove me crazy. So I thought, when I do my biopic, we're just throwing facts out the window. Like, who cares?
LYNDSEY PARKER: [LAUGHS] I'm really excited to think of all, like, the Weird Al, like, superfans who-- actually, your superfans will get what you are. But maybe other people will be like, wait a minute, that's not how "My Bologna" got written. But since we are separating the fact from the fiction, I actually do want to know how you first wrote "My Bologna." Because that's a big, like, kind of turning point, very, like, "Walk Hard," you know, "Walk the Line," "Bohemian Rhapsody" kind of scene where you have this epiphany with the luncheon meat. What actually happened?
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: It was nothing like the movie, obviously. That's the thing with these-- the music biopics, is it's hard to show inspiration striking. Because when inspiration strikes, usually, like, you're in a room by yourself. And you're kind of glazed over. And you go, oh, yeah, I'll do that, which is not very cinematic, you know? So you have to, like, embellish it a little bit and make it more palatable for-- for the audience.
LYNDSEY PARKER: But like I said, obviously, there are references to real things that happened. There is a reference at the very end to Coolio. We all know that you had, you know, some differences with Coolio, but patched things up. And I saw on the day he passed, you posted a nice tribute on your Instagram with the two of you embracing. You know, I guess I just wonder if you thought about, in light of the fact that he passed, does that hit different to you? Did you think about maybe removing that reference, since it's so small?
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Yeah, I mean, you know, the picture was locked. And-- if Coolio had passed while we were editing, that would have been a discussion. But it was sort of like the train had left the building.
In fact, it was a little embarrassing, or awkward at least, when the day that the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival was the day that Queen Elizabeth died. And there's, like, a bit with Queen Elizabeth during the end credits. And people were like, oh. It just hit really weird.
So the same thing with Coolio. I mean, obviously, that-- that cameo isn't hitting the same way that I was intending it to hit. But I mean, you know, obviously, Coolio and I had patched things up, and we were on good terms, and it was a joke. And I was hoping that he would be around to see it in the movie. And I would have hoped that he would have gotten a kick out of it.
LYNDSEY PARKER: When I went to the Beyond Fest, and they had the Q&A, someone said a question, said-- it's dark humor. They were like, Queen Elizabeth, Coolio-- is this a cursed film?
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: [LAUGHS]
LYNDSEY PARKER: I was like, no, don't say that.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Everybody in this movie will eventually die.
LYNDSEY PARKER: [LAUGHS] So speaking of cursed films, is this the ultimate revenge for the unsung "UHF"? You know how I feel about "UHF."
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Oh, thank you. I don't look at it in terms of revenge. But it's a rebirth. [LAUGHS] It's amazing to me, and-- and gratifying that on top of the fans' reaction, it's actually getting great critical reviews, which "UHF" certainly did not back in 1989, when it came out. And people have kind of come around to it. And they look at it very nostalgically now, and it's, like, a cult classic.
But it did not get good reviews. And this movie is getting good reviews. It's got-- I think it's got-- it's 93% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, which is not shabby.
LYNDSEY PARKER: When "UHF" did not get the success that I feel-- and your fans feel it deserved, I mean, that hurt, didn't it? Like, you put a lot into that.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Yeah, because I mean, not only did I put a lot into it, but it was built up so much. Orion Pictures had tested it with audiences. And the test scores were through the roof. And it was, like, one of the biggest, highest-testing movies ever.
And they thought, oh, we're going to put this out in the middle of this blockbuster summer. And this is going to be a cash cow. And this is going to be a start of a long movie career for you. And I was being built up like this.
And then literally after the first weekend, when it underperformed at the box office, I was a ghost. I was a ghost at Orion Pictures. They-- nobody wanted to establish eye contact. It was really weird.
And it was just kind of-- it was just, you know, odd to have the rug pulled out from under me like that. Because I was getting built up so much. And then within a couple of days, nothing. So that was kind of devastating.
And it took me kind of a while-- I don't know if I would say I was depressed because I've always been a pretty happy, up kind of guy. But it was not pleasant. And I probably had a couple of years of licking my wounds before I could kind of come back and be creative again.
LYNDSEY PARKER: And 33 years before you could have another film, so-- so I'm rooting for all the Oscars for "Weird." I know in the song that's in the end credits, you say that it's eligible-- you say, in the lyrics, that it's eligible for an Oscar.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: You know, I have to say that's yet another lie. Because as it turns out, the movie will not be Oscar eligible. I've been begging, begging Roku Channel for months to make it eligible, which all that would involve is, like, letting it play in a theater in LA for one week. They do not want to do that because they-- now, here's the logic. I don't quite agree with it.
But they said that they would rather have a Creative Arts Emmy than an Oscar because they're in the TV business, not the music-- movie business.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Come on, Roku.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: Yeah. You know, they've-- believe me, I've tried. And they put their foot down. So it's not actually going to be Oscar eligible. But maybe an Emmy? We'll see.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I feel, you know, retroactive Oscar for "UHF."
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: [LAUGHS]
LYNDSEY PARKER: If you can't have one for "Weird," justice for "UHF." But you know, congratulations on this completely factual, 100% accurate film doing so well critically. And hopefully, maybe we can bend some rules and get you into the Oscars. I want to see you perform at the Oscars as well.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: OK. [LAUGHS]
LYNDSEY PARKER: In a-- in the same outfit you wear, without spoiling anything, one of the scenes, one of the award show scenes in this movie.
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC: OK. Well, thanks, Lyndsey.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Well, thank you, Al. Congratulations on everything. It's always great to speak with you. And I'm looking forward to "Weird 2-- Electric Boogaloo."