Actors Steve Zahn and Allen Covert talk to The Villanovan

Natalie Smith

You may know Allen Covert as the writer and star of “Grandma’s Boy,” the comedic cult success of 2006 and Steve Zahn as the funny man-sidekick from numerous films; the most recent being “Rescue Dawn,” (which was nominated for an Oscar).

But this coming weekend, the two actors will team up in “Strange Wilderness,” the newest movie from Happy Madison Productions about the search for Big Foot and the madness that ensues.

This amusing story from the masterminds behind “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” “The Bench Warmers,” “Deuce Bigalow” and “The Wedding Singer” opens Feb. 1 and is sure to entertain.

“Grandma’s Boy” was a huge underground success. Do you think “Strange Wilderness” is going to be similar? And what kind of input do you have on a project like this?

Covert: In comparison to “Grandma’s Boy,” I think if you liked that movie you’re definitely going to like this one.

It’s just crazy, it’s funny – a bunch of idiots go looking for Bigfoot. And they’re not very great with animals.

And on this actually, anytime it’s a Happy Madison movie, we have a lot of input.

This was one where right after “Grandma’s Boy” I knew this was the next movie Happy Madison was doing, so I just read through the script one night, just for ideas, maybe for casting, and my one idea was “I want to put me in this.”

You loved it that much?

Covert: I read it on the plane, and when the plane landed, I just picked up the phone and said, “I have to be in this movie. It’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.”

I mean I literally was laughing out loud on the airplane.

Steve, what drew you into this project?

Zahn: I had just shot “Rescue Dawn” in Thailand. I was there for six weeks, and then I took this trip to Vietnam right after I wrapped.

And I did this kayaking trip up in Ha Long Bay, up near China.

And when I got back to Hanoi, and [my agent] called me and said, “Hey, you got this offer on this script. But you need to tell them within the next like 12 hours.”

I laughed so hard when I read [the script] – and then I thought, I’m like sitting here in my hotel in my underwear and is that why it’s funny, or is it really that funny; you know what I mean?

So I read it again, and I laughed even harder. And I thought, “Man, I have to so this.” So I immediately called them and I said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”

This movie looks like it was a lot of fun to film-the great search for Bigfoot. I’m sure there was a lot of silly-ness that ensued.

Zahn: It was constant. I mean – I swear to God it was. That’s the good thing about an independently financed movie where you don’t have a studio head breathing down your neck going, “Is this really funny, what he just did there?”

And what are your guys’ goals for the future, what can we expect from you next?

Zahn: I’m in “Buck Howard” – the Malkovich movie – that just premiered at Sundance. And then I just finished a movie with Jennifer Aniston, called “Management,” that we shot up in Oregon, which will probably be [out] around next fall, which I think is a really great script.

I just try to be really instinctual about stuff and pick things that I think I’m going to be good in so I can get another job after that, you know? I just care about my next character – and if I can kick ass doing it; and if I don’t think I can then I don’t do it.

Covert: As far as goals in the movie business I got to write and star in my own movie, “Grandma’s Boy,” which was always something I wanted to do; and people really liked it so that worked out well for me, and I’m just psyched to be doing what I’m doing.

I’ve actually written another script: it’s a miniature golf go-cart extravaganza.

And we’re just basically looking for a distributer right now.

And also Fred Wolf, who wrote and directed this one, has another script called “High School Confidential” that we’re talking about doing, which is basically a hard R Romeo and Juliet set in high school in 1962.

But to be honest with you, though, five years from now, I’d love to be sitting in the backyard playing with my kids and not worrying about this stupid business anymore.

That’s a great place to want to be.

Covert: Yeah, I have a 14-month-old daughter now, and I’ve never had one of those before, so it really put a different spin on things. I actually have another child on the way; my wife is four-and-a-half months pregnant.

We’ve always been workaholics here at Happy Madison, but we all have kids now, so it’s so funny to see at 5:30 p.m. everyone’s going “Are we finished? Can we go home now? Can we see the kids?”

You’ve each taken on a lot of roles, some comedic and some a little more serious. But which one is the most memorable?

Zahn: That’s interesting. It’s maybe even something like, “Comanche Moon,” the miniseries I just did; the prequel to “Lonesome Dove.”

I mean, as far as what I like to do and my passions, I live on a farm and I own horses – and I fish and hunt.

That’s my speed, you know.

Covert: I would say “Grandma’s Boy” recently and before that, Sammy from “The Wedding Singer.” Three words. Michael Jackson jacket.

I hear that more than anything, but I’m just psyched people like our movies.

That was kind of the first big role I ever played-and I will give credit where credit is due.

That Michael Jackson jacket was Adam Sandler. He called me one day and said, “I just wrote you the biggest laugh in the movie.”