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THE PERFORMANCE

Dan Fogler

The Tony Award-winning actor evokes youthful fixation in the comedy 'Fanboys' -- it's a feeling he's been on both sides of now.

February 05, 2009|Michael Ordona

Dan Fogler almost pulls off "respectable" in his black suit jacket, but his distressed, brown skull-and-crossbones trucker hat betrays him. And that beard may have been neatly landscaped this morning, but that was obviously hours ago. He is undeniably round, more in the mini-Belushi realm than, say, the Chris Farley sphere. And this is an issue.

Acknowledging that several conservatories he applied to as a student complained about his weight, the extremely busy, Tony Award-winning actor says, "I don't know what it was about those schools; they had a cookie-cutter technique they stuck to. A lot of them said they wanted me to lose up to 30 pounds. That was during my high-school days, so I wasn't that big.

"I'm trying very hard to get fit. It's tough when (a) you are getting parts that ask you to look a certain way and (b)," he switches to a '50s hygiene-film voice, " 'Well, I don't really want high blood pressure.' I hope that, at some point, I'll be able to make enough of a mark with my acting that people will like me in all different shapes and sizes."

In the new comedy "Fanboys," Fogler is one in a group of friends who embark on a cross-country quest to their mecca: George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. But this is no vacation: It's 1998 and they intend to break in and steal a copy of "Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace" in a last hurrah for one of their number. Fogler's Hutch lives in his mother's garage ("It's a carriage house!"), where he plays endless video games and dreams of starting his own business.

Despite his convincing manifestation as one of the "Star Wars"-fixated friends, the thoughtful Fogler admits he wouldn't make their grade in real life.

"That's a passion. They've made it their calling in life," he says, admitting he loved "Star Wars" as a kid -- he just didn't looove it. "I guess I'm a fanboy about acting. I'm sure that I would get a little lightheaded if, like, De Niro walked in the room. I'd get a little flibbity in the lips, you know?

"I've been in that situation. One of my heroes is Bill Murray, and I just happened to meet him. I'd met celebrities before, but [with him] I just couldn't put sentences together. I was like," suddenly he's Marvin the Martian on Quaaludes: " 'Hiiiiii, you arrrrre, blarnnng, Billllll . . .' It's weird being on either side of that."

And Fogler has been on the other side as well, during the Broadway run of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Much to his surprise, he discovered his acclaimed performance generated some active female interest.

"I was playing a child who was not the most masculine guy in the universe. He was a slob and a nerd and drowning in his own mucus. And gorgeous women afterward would be like," supermodel voice: " 'So, what are you doing?' I was like, 'What was it? The fact that he was so rumply?' "

Apart from performing with his band, 2nd Rate, appearing in a host of new movies -- "Young Americans," "Taking Woodstock," "Traveling" -- and gearing up for the performance-capture adaptation of Berkeley Breathed's "Mars Needs Moms," Fogler is eagerly awaiting the chance to take his own baby, "Hysterical Psycho," which he wrote and directed, around the film-festival circuit.

He's also a produced playwright, having penned "Elephant in the Room," inspired by Eugene Ionesco's classic cautionary tale about fascism, "Rhinoceros." In Fogler's play, the rhinos everyone is turning into are replaced by the symbolic animals of the Republican Party: "I felt like I was thrown into chaos -- I think everyone did -- and a maniac was at the reins."

But Fogler admits enjoying a little war play, as when the "Fanboys" cast settled into a childlike mind-set. The 31-year-old said they acquired "high-pressure pellet guns and dressed up like G.I. Joe around the hotel [on location in Albuquerque]. Everyone got into it. The producers were young guys too. . . . We would wear, like, makeshift Kevlar. I would cut cardboard out and put it under my outfit, wear a crazy Darth Vader mask."

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Where you've seen him

Not to be confused with the late singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, comic actor Dan Fogler made his name on Broadway in the award-winning musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." He won a Tony Award for his portrayal of William Barfee, a "12-year-old, slightly effeminate boy" with anger issues. On-screen, he most recognizably starred in the martial arts/pingpong opus "Balls of Fury" (2007), with Christopher Walken. He has also appeared in "Good Luck Chuck" (2007), with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, and "School for Scoundrels" (2006), with Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder.

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