As Simon Pegg and Ricky Gervais will confirm, the British-sitcom-to-Hollywood-stardom route is well-travelled. But Andy Samberg is doing it the other way round.
Having found fame with his group Lonely Island – responsible for songs such as D*ck In A Box – Samberg has since graduated to Saturday Night Live master impressionist and, more recently, big-screen leading man.
In between that, he filmed new British sitcom Cuckoo, in which he plays a hippie whose New Age ideas don’t chime with his new father-in-law (The Inbetweeners’ Greg Davies). So, why the transatlantic change of pace?
What made you want to do Cuckoo?
I found the script really funny. That’s all I base my decisions on. Growing up in Berkeley, California, I met a lot of guys like [Samberg’s character] Cuckoo and I always thought they seemed like good fodder for comedy.
Did you ever have a hippie phase?
I did the travelling, backpacker thing a bit. And I had dreadlocks for three months in high school. I quickly realised it was a terrible mistake [laughs]. I finally cut them off at summer camp and I ended up making out with a girl that same night. So I was rewarded immediately.
Has there been much cast bonding on Cuckoo?
A lot. My favourite thing Greg [Davies] does is his impression of an American. For some reason he thinks Americans are constantly going to the dump – [adopts ‘stoner’ Californian accent] “Hey, dude, you wanna go to the dump?” There’s also a lot of homoerotic behaviour in America, according to Greg. We’ve certainly gotten very frisky with one another.
Are there any other British comedians you’d like to work with?
Gosh, so many. I really admire Richard Ayoade. Steve Coogan’s hilarious. I’ve worked with Russell Brand already when he hosted Saturday Night Live.
Was he anarchic?
No, he’s incredibly mild-mannered. He showed up and everyone was like, “OK, watch out, he’s going to be f*cking all the interns.” But he turned out to be the sweetest, most polite, person ever.
Who’s been the most surprisingly funny celebrity you’ve worked with?
We had a hunch Michael Bolton [who featured on the Lonely Island track Jack Sparrow] would be funny, but he ended up being much funnier than we expected. There was a bit of bartering over how dirty his verses would get. He was initially like, “Whoa, hold on. I don’t want this song to end my career.”
Which lyric proved too much?
There was a line about putting a 9mm in the seat of your pants and blowing your asshole out of your mouth [laughs]. It’s actually a pretty good line.
What’s your strangest fan moment?
Some guys conducted a conversation with me using only the phrase “D*ck in a box”, with different inflexions. When they first spotted me, they were like [excitable] “D*ck in a box!” Then they held up their camera and asked, “D*ck in a box?” After the photo they said it gratefully, like, “Dude… d*ck in a box.”
Cuckoo begins on BBC Three at 10pm on 25 September
(Image: Rex Features)