MacGruber star Ryan Phillippe has a unique history with the franchise because the character he plays in Dixon Piper didn't originate from the original Saturday Night Live sketch that featured Will Forte as the title character and Kristen Wiig as his partner Vicki. The original sketches found MacGruber, Vicki, and a random third person, usually played by the host trapped within the confines of a death trap with a bomb to disarm with limited seconds. It generally finds the main character often distracted either from insecurity or a tangent that takes up the remaining time as the others try to get him focused before the inevitable explosion. Since the 2010 Universal film adaptation, the primary stars of the film make their return for a sequel series for the NBCU streamer Peacock. While promoting his latest comedy Lady of the Manor, I spoke to the actor on his surprise finding out the cult classic is getting a second life.
"It picks up 10 years after the film," Phillippe said. "I don't want to give too much away, but as soon as the series gets going, the material and the humor, the comedy…they worked so long and hard on these scripts that the jokes just come fast and furious. You get to see what has happened to all of us since then and it's pretty ridiculous. I can't wait for people to see it. I think especially in a time like this now where we're all dealing with so many new stresses in the world has changed so fundamentally with this pandemic that MacGruber is really going to offer a chance like Lady of the Manor for people to just kind of have a laugh and to forget about all of that stuff for a little while."
When the Big Sky star got the call to return, it took him by surprise. "Nobody would have thought that a movie that performed so poorly at the box office would ever be revisited in any fashion," Phillippe said. "So there were moments when we all got back on set to make the series. We were like, 'We can't believe they're letting us do this again.' It just seems absurd. How often does a film come out and absolutely bomb at the box office but then get revived in some fashion? It's only because people develop this massive cult following through the years. A lot of comedians tell me it's their favorite movie and it's been put on the list of top comedies of the last 20 years. When it came out, it was not well received on any level. So it was a big surprise that we ended up back making MacGruber again.
While Phillippe is more known for his serious work, he always treasures any opportunity to take on comedic projects. Despite not being part of the original core on SNL, he felt like things picked up where they left off when they filmed the 2010 film. "Our first day all back together again was doing a promotional shoot," he said. "Within five minutes, Kristen, Will, and I are doing a human pyramid and just being goofy. It didn't take long to get back to where we were and I think we were all kind of surprised by that. It's because we do get along so well and it's such a good group of people and having that history is pretty nice, too. A lot of the creatives on the project worked at SNL. So these people have known each other, some of them for like 20 years. It's a very comfortable environment when you have that kind of history." MacGruber also stars Sam Elliot, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Zane, and Timothy V. Murphy.