Also in Slate, Dana Stevens reviews 30 Minutes or Less.
In the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less, out today, Michigan-based dorks Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg become unlikely badasses when Eisenberg, playing a pizza delivery boy, gets strapped to a bomb-laden vest by nefarious idiots (Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride and comedian Nick Swardson). Ansari, who is best known as the swaggering Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, talked to Slate about what’s coming up for Pawnee, Indiana’s most stylish gentleman this season, his love for the new Kanye/Jay-Z album Watch the Throne, and where he gets his slim-cut suits.
Slate: Did you ever think you’d be an action hero like you are in 30 Minutes or Less? Did you imagine being the Indian John McClane when you were younger?
Aziz Ansari: Like the character in the movie, I watched those movies like Die Hard and Terminator, Point Break, all that stuff. So it was definitely fun to be in a movie where there was action like bank robberies and car chases.
Slate: You’re working with your 30 Minutes co-star Danny McBride on a movie called Olympic-Size Asshole—what’s it about?
Ansari: Myself and Danny play two guys who are best friends and we live in South Carolina or something, and there’s this Olympic athlete who’s the hometown hero, and he’s a huge superstar—on the cover of Time magazine. Everyone loves him, he’s a really good-looking guy, and he comes to town and we think he’s this awesome guy, and then he has a three-way with our girlfriends, and it destroys our world. We have to get revenge on him. We’re just developing that script and we’ll shoot it when we both have a break from our respective television shows.
Slate: Was 30 Minutes the first time you and Danny had met?
Ansari: We’d met before. We knew each other and had seen each other around and were fans of each other’s work. I’d seen his first movie, TheFoot Fist Way, a long time ago and I remember I met him and told him I thought it was great. He’d seen some of the early stuff I’d done—the sketch comedy show Human Giant. So we’d been fans of each other for a while.
Ansari: I’m the kind of person, if I see something, like a funny video, I want to share it. With Twitter and Tumblr you can do that on a mass scale, and people get to know your personality. If I talk about food a lot, you know that about me. If I eat at a really good restaurant, I want to tell people about it, I want them to enjoy that place.
Slate: One of the things that you obviously enjoy is clothing. This is exaggerated in your Parks and Recreation character Tom Haverford, but you’re clearly a very dapper guy. Are there particular places you go to shop?
Ansari: I mainly just shop at OshKosh B’Gosh for men. The stuff’s really small, but it works out well.
Slate: Do they make it bigger for you? Do they have a special tailor come in and stretch it out?
Ansari: There is an OshKosh B’Gosh for men. It’s just Gosh Kosh, and they have a tailor that makes it really big. Big enough to fit me. Actually, I like the brand Band of Outsiders. Their suits are cut really slim, for smaller framed gentlemen. You know, most clothes are made for dudes who look like Chris Pratt, who plays Andy on our show, like huge dudes. I’m not that big, so when stuff’s cut slimmer for smaller guys it helps.
Slate: What’s going to happen for Tom Haverford in Season 4? Are he and Jean-Ralphio going to become Pawnee’s biggest impresarios?
Ansari: Pretty much. The season starts off with me running this business, Entertainment 720. And I posted a photo on my website of how he dresses now. His swagger has gone up like 2,000 percent. His whole thing is he wants to be like Russell Simmons or someone like that. And now he’s basically done that, so what happens when that guy achieves his dream, and what happens when it starts falling apart.
Slate: So he’ll end up back at his old gig eventually?
Ansari: I don’t think they’re running the company very wisely. If you saw at the end of the season last year, it didn’t seem like they were laying the groundwork for a company that would become a long-term thing.
Ansari: I don’t know but it’s so flattering. All that stuff eventually gets to us through Twitter. All of us on the show are so appreciative of all the people who put the time in to make that stuff.
Slate: Finally, what’s the best thing you saw on the Internet this week?
Ansari: The Watch the Throne album [by Kanye West and Jay-Z] I downloaded. That was off the Internet. Are you a fan?
Slate: I downloaded it yesterday and started listening to it, it’s great.
Ansari: Just yesterday? It came out Sunday!
Slate: I know, busy week.
Ansari: Is there any way I can go back in time and say I don’t want to do the interview with you because you didn’t download Watch the Throne immediately?
Slate: Next time I’ll be more vigilant about the release dates of any Kanye or Jay-Z related projects.
This interview has been condensed and edited.