Though he plays Deputy Travis Junior on the popular Comedy Central series “Reno 911!”, Ben Garant pulled rank on Lieutenant Jim Dangle at a “Balls of Fury” panel discussion held at the recent San Diego Comic-Con.
Garant, who directed and co-wrote the script, told Lt. Dangle’s alter ego and “Balls of Fury” co-writer Thomas Lennon to come dressed as Karl Wolfschtagg, a leotard-wearing ping-pong champion, but everyone else on the panel was in street clothes. “I’m sorry; I thought we were doing this in character,” Lennon said. “Dude, I was getting made fun of by a guy dressed like Daredevil.”
“Balls of Fury” deals with an extreme ping-pong tournament where losing means instant death. “If you guys only see one ping-pong, martial arts, romantic, ‘wire-fu’ comedy this year, make it ‘Balls of Fury,’ Garant said to a capacity crowd at the San Diego Convention Center’s massive Hall H.
Wire-fu, for those unfamiliar with the term, refers to a film-making technique in which the performers are attached to wire and pulleys that allow them to perform kung-fu moves not possible in real life. “The cast is absolutely fantastic. Christopher Walken plays the evil arms dealer/ping-pong fanatic that our lead must take down. He will not be here today; he’s doing ‘Hairspray’ stuff,” Garant said, referring to Walken’s recent appearance in the movie musical.
Dan Fogler, who won a Tony Award for his role in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on Broadway, plays Randy Daytona, a former ping-pong great recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the tournament. Daytona also wants revenge upon Feng, the Christopher Walken character who killed his father years earlier. “It’s about a ping-pong player who must pick up his paddle again to avenge his father’s death. Think Van Damme movie in the 80’s, take out all of the fighting and put in ping-pong,” Garant said.
Other cast members include Hong Kong cinema superstar Maggie Q and Patton Oswalt, the voice of Remy in “Ratatouille” who plays a “Clubber Lang”-like character called “The Hammer.” “It took us 7 months to do ping-pong CGI. Peter Jackson (director of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy) did a thousand Orks in the time it took us to do one ping-pong ball, but we’re done,” Garant said.
When asked about behind-the-scenes hi-jinks by a fan wearing a Princess Leia slave girl outfit, both Garant and Lennon said that Christopher Walken pretended it was his birthday three times during production. “He literally goes to Ralph’s in the morning and gets a birthday cake and then he sets down the cake in the trailer and looks very sad. He sits there very sad and waits for someone to say ‘Chris, what’s wrong?’,” Lennon said. “Then, everyone is prancing around and singing for him and he’s sitting there quietly digging it.”
“Balls of Fury,” rated PG-13 for crude, sex-related humor and for language, opens on Wednesday, August 29.