Rob Riggle sits in the back of a hearse as it zips down a highway, with a complete moron behind the wheel, and an equally daft dummy riding shotgun. The co-pilots are Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn, two idiots who haven’t reared their heads in twenty years. It’s Riggle’s first day on the set of Dumb and Dumber To, and he can’t believe his eyes.
“I’m the biggest fan of Dumb and Dumber,” he tells Digital Trends. “I still get giddy. I’m not too cool for school. I get impressed.”
Riggle feels like he’s been quoting the Farrelly Brothers classic “for most of my life, in one form or another, like most American guys.” And now, he’s part of that universe, starring in the sequel as the Lippencott twins, a pair of brothers looking to score a big pay day. All that stands in the Lippencotts’ way are Jim Carrey’s Lloyd and Jeff Daniels’ Harry, both of them clueless about the problems they present.
“I just wanted to call all my friends and tell them, ‘You won’t believe what I’m doing right now.’”
It’s a role the 44-year-old comedian knows how to play. He played a drug-dealing gym teacher in 21 Jump Street. He served as a power-abusing cop in The Hangover. The list goes on. “It’s a speed I can do,” says Riggle. “It’s believable. And I don’t know what that says about me. It makes me very sad, sometimes!”
But next year, Riggle breaks away from type in a very interesting way. He’s one of the stars of Dead Rising: Watchtower, the video game adaptation produced by Legendary Pictures with an eye for release on Crackle in 2015. Riggle plays Frank West, one of the most popular characters in the zombie franchise, and one of the most different characters in Riggle’s career.
“He’s a photojournalist who survives these zombie attacks and outbreaks, and is sincere in his effort to save people, help people, and uncover the conspiracies that are going on,” says Riggle. “But he’s also a little bit narcissistic. He’s like a fighter pilot, in a sense. He thinks his shit doesn’t stink. He thinks he’s pretty damn cool. Not many people like Frank West as much as Frank West does.”
That’s only true within the Dead Rising universe. As far as fandom goes, West is one of the most beloved characters in the Capcom series. If Riggle feels pressure to bring West to life, he’s not showing it.
“I thought it would be fun and something that people haven’t seen from me,” he says. “He’s got this wonderful duality, this cock of the walk, but at the same time, he’s trying to do the right thing.”
Riggle says that fans can expect the tone of Dead Rising to be “pretty straight action,” albeit with some glimmers of humor. “There are some things in it that are irreverent,” he says. “There are some winks and nods, some things that have a humorous tone about them, but at the end of the day, it’s action.”
For Riggle, then, Dead Rising presents an opportunity to try something new: a full-on action movie, without too much comedy to speak of. “I’m trying to expand the palate,” he says with a laugh. “Like anyone else, creatively, I want to do things. If I get the opportunity to do something dramatic, or I get the opportunity to do some action, yeah, I’ll jump on it.”
“There are some winks and nods, some things that have a humorous tone about them, but at the end of the day, it’s action.”
Still, even if his turn in Dead Rising leads to more action movie opportunities, even if he’s interested in dramatic work, Riggle claims that nothing would keep him away from his clear and present passion.
“Comedy’s my life. I love it,” he says. “That’s what I want to do. I don’t want to stray too much from that. That’s where I want to spend my time. That’s where I’m happiest.”
For Riggle, that first day on the Dumb and Dumber To set, in the back of Lloyd and Harry’s new ride, is one of the happiest days of all.
“I was having a surreal moment,” he says. “I don’t know. I had to remind myself to focus on what I need to do. I just wanted to call all my friends and tell them, ‘You won’t believe what I’m doing right now.'”
Riggle stars in Dumb and Dumber To, in theaters on November 14.