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Star-studded cast gets ‘High’

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He’s tackled baseball and stoners, and now he’s about to step into the same company as “Lord of the Rings” and “Monty Python.”

Danny McBride stars in “Your Highness,” a fantasy comedy, also starring James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel, opening this Friday.

McBride plays Thadeous, a prince who spent his childhood in the shadow of his perfect older brother, Fabious (Franco). 

When their kingdom comes under attack, the brothers, joined by the warrior Isabel (Portman), must try to save it and rescue Fabious’ fiancée, Belladonna (Deschanel), as well.

McBride and director David Gordon Green spoke with The Lantern about the film.

Inspiration for the film stemmed from McBride’s childhood film favorites.

“When I was a kid, I grew up watching a lot of those crazy sorcery fantasy movies in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s,” he said. “I thought it would be a cool genre to explore with a hard R sort of take.”

Fantasy films weren’t the only inspiration for “Your Highness.” McBride also looked at comedic takes on the fantasy genre, including the cult favorite, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

However, McBride said he wanted to avoid the “low-budget” feel of the Monty Python classic and give “Your Highness” the full-blown Hollywood treatment.

“To us, the joke would be if we could make this movie feel as much like it was not lo-fi, but it was like a big spectacle, a big Hollywood, visual effects movie,” he said. “So for us, that was the angle we took.”

McBride and longtime-collaborator Green came up with the concept for the film in 2001.

“The idea almost came up as a joke,” McBride said. “We were just coming up with ideas for movies that would be nuts to see. The fact that we ended up on a set in Belfast actually getting ready to bring it to life always tripped David and I out.”

Though “Your Highness” is a comedy, Green didn’t want to cast strictly comedians.

Instead, Green cast a variety of actors, from Oscar-winning Portman to accomplished British stage actors.

“I wanted to cast people who were great actors first and had a great sense of humor,” Green said.

Filmmakers also attempted to create an authentic fantasy feel, despite the silliness in the film.

Green and McBride shot on location in rainy Belfast, Ireland, to help capture that.

“I think in our approach we never approached it as if it were a comedy,” McBride said. “We always approached it as if it were a serious film, and to us, the more serious we took it, the funnier it became.”

Eventful.com hosted a competition to bring the world premiere of the film to a college campus. The University of California Santa Barbara received the most votes online and won the chance to have the premiere on their campus, while the next seven runners-up won a free advanced screening of the film. Ohio State did not place in the top eight.

Despite poor turnout by Buckeyes, Green remains optimistic about OSU.

“You guys are so committed to contributing to our box office that we really respect that, so because of that, we’re gonna bring the sequel to your campus,” he said.

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