Weird Al Yankovic interview: ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ writer
“We didn’t want it to feel like we’re just expanding out this one joke to an hour and a half,” explains “Weird” Al Yankovic about writing Roku’s “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” a not-exactly-autobiographical parody of music biopics. “That was a real challenge to make sure that it felt like … a real character-driven movie and giving it moments that people would care about.” We talked to Yankovic as part of our “Meet the Experts” Writers Guild Awards nominees panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Weird” started in 2010 as a three-minute parody trailer for a biopic about Yankovic. He and co-writer/director Eric Appel didn’t set about making it into an honest-to-goodness feature film until years later. But despite it being a parody, “there are nuggets of truth throughout.” He “wanted to take people on that journey” of watching a biopic until they realize the film’s actual intent. Stretching the truth is not exclusive to parodies, though. Yankovic points out how “maddeningly similar” a lot of real biopics are and how, for instance, “Bohemian Rhapsody” “took so many liberties” and “moved things around” to suit its narrative.
But that was also freeing: “I thought, well maybe there is room for a ‘Weird’ Al biopic where we just throw facts out the window. We seem to be living in a post-fact age. So I thought that now would be the time to just really go off the rails.” For that, Yankovic and Appel have been nominated by the WGA for Best TV/New Media Motion Picture. There’s a certain irony to that. “We didn’t think that our movie, ostensibly making fun of award-show movies, was going to actually be picking up awards,” Yankovic admits, “but we’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled that it is.”