Interview: David Milchard of Russell Madness — Plus Copies to Give Away!

Posted on March 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Copyright Air Bud Entertainment 2015
Copyright Air Bud Entertainment 2015

David Milchard stars in “Russell Madness” as the father of a family who inherits a wrestling arena.  But I think he would agree that the real stars of the film are the talking monkey and dog.

He took the time to talk to me about making the film, which is a lot of fun .  I have copies to give away!  Send me an email at with Russell in the subject line and tell me  your favorite movie dog.   Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only).  I’ll pick a winner at random on March 16, 2015.  Good luck!

They always say that actors don’t like to work with animals or children. You managed to do both in this film so tell me a little bit about what that was like.

A dog and a monkey!  A monkey is an animal but some people will say it is also a human. And I work with CGI which means there’s nothing there at the time. So I feel like I can do anything.  I have been through the hurricane class of acting.  Crystal is the name of the monkey.  I like Crystal. She was fantastic to work with.  It was a great experience; it was actually funny; the very first day on the set, I hadn’t met the monkey yet. And we were kind of in an important scene in terms of like how to get it done so it was a crash course on how to handle a monkey. Getting the monkey up on my shoulder and then acting as though I always had the monkey upon my shoulder, like it is totally normal. And then every now and then a monkey does what a monkey does which is like really screech loudly in your ear. But for the most part Crystal was a professional. Very well behaved and it was super fun to work with Crystal. And then I learned that if you ignore the monkey just a little bit they adore you more. So that is what I did.

What was it like to work with CGI, or, rather, to pretend that what would be inserted via CGI was there?

Copyright Air Bud Entertainment 2015
Copyright Air Bud Productions 2015

We were moving very quickly so sometimes they would film the dog and then they would remove the dog. The dog would do some crazy flip.  And then you had to react to a dog flipping but there was no dog. So it was challenging but it was fun and working with the Director, Robert Vince, was great because he was very honest. If it was working, he would be like “Perfect, great!”  If not, he would say, “No, we are going to do that one again,” and then he would explain if I was looking in the wrong spot or whatever but it was really great. After that, I’m definitely capable of handling anything right now. Give me any sort of situation actingwise, I am ready.

Your co-star is John Ratzenberger (“Cheers”), and I know he loves to improvise.

Yes and I love to do improv, too. I actually performed in a place called the Vancouver TheaterSports League and that’s where I get my chops for improv over the last, I guess 10 or so years and it was great.  Yes, John and I would mess around a little bit.  He kept me on my toes for sure.

You were very believable as a dad.  What did you do to help the kids in the film get comfortable with you?

It was lots of fun.  Working in the “Conversations With” Web Series was very helpful because it is not shot like a traditional TV set or anything like that.   And being an improviser I have worked with lots of kids on stage in front of a live audience, which is very exciting and dangerous if you will. And so I felt quite prepared when I got on set and the kids were great. I mean everyone was super fun and Mason Vale Cotton was a consummate professional.  He was very prepared. And he was also very adaptable.  I mean it is hard acting with the dogs and animals and stuff but he was patient and he was fantastic.

I’m glad you mentioned the very funny “Conversations With” on YouTube, where you played the role of a 2, then 3, now 4-year-old, saying exactly what she said to her father.  Tell me how you psych yourself into that role.

I think there is more kid in me than I realize. I always want to try and get what I want when I want it. And so I definitely tapped into that. But basically, being an improviser you just sort of say yes to situations and also you observe a lot. So I spent a lot of time watching my brother raise his two kids and like I said I taught improv as well so I have worked with kids in that way. And then just watching Coco, I studied her sometimes and see what she does. And then I take some creative license.

I like the way you capture the temperament of a child without having to use an exaggerated baby voice.

Yes, Matt Clark, my friend and my partner in crime in the series, we talked about that at length actually when we were starting. We were like “Well, how much like a kid do I play it?”  We try to find a fine line about what makes the most sense.  Sometimes I do act like a kid because it feels right and then other times I feel like no, this is an adult moment, this is when maybe Coco’s exploring the world of what it is like to be older.

One of the things that I particularly enjoyed in the “Russell Madness” movie was the set.  It was just gorgeous.

When I walked on to that set, I was like, “Oh my goodness! I’m in a real movie!”  The set was amazing. And we were all really sad when we had to go to the modern version, but that was amazing too.  Everyone loved it. And then we were all kind of like joking that we could just leave it up and start a wrestling league here.  We were all sad when we had to leave that set.

What do you think families will talk about after they see the film?

I think people are going to love this movie because it has got a great little story.  The parents will be happy with the family message: family first, family is the best tag team. And I think that is a great element of it.  The monkey talks and we hear the monkey and that is super fun. And then of course we have got the dogs so if you like dogs, you are in. If you like monkeys, you are in. You kind of got it all and the kids were both talented obviously and super cute. So it is fun.

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