From supersized fries to a film funded by product placement, Morgan Spurlock has helped audiences rethink what a documentary can look like. After breaking onto the scene with Super Size Me, Spurlock has worked on a variety of projects from the television series 30 Days to this year’s Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. In his latest film, Mansome, Spurlock takes a look at the grooming habits of the modern male. While Spurlock’s iconic mustache and tongue-in-cheek attitude make him a perfect fit, he’s helped out in the film by Will Arnett and Jason Bateman of Arrested Development fame. The pair add colorful commentary on characters as various as a competitive “beardsman” and a self-described metrosexual. We caught up with Spurlock to ask about shaving off his famous mustache and what film he still wants to make.
ELLE: You have Judd Apatow, Zach Galifianakis, and Paul Rudd along with Will Arnett and Jason Bateman acting almost like narrators in the film. What made you want to feature so many comedians?
Spurlock: All the bits with Will and Jason… We shot multiple things with them. Then they would just run with it. It was great. Once we had Will and Jason, I wanted to have other funny people. So that’s when we reached out.
ELLE: You’ve been at the forefront for new entertainment distribution models with new series on Yahoo! and Hulu. How do you see technology changing film in the next few years?
Spurlock: When Super Size Me came out, you have to think there was no Twitter, there was no Facebook, there was no YouTube or Hulu. What’s happened in the last eight years is remarkable… There was something really exciting that happened right around 2000, which was a democratization of filmmaking. Suddenly professional cameras became affordable, so now anyone who can buy a camera, who can buy a computer, who had a good idea, could make a movie. It all came down to sweat equity. If you were willing to invest time, you could make a film. What’s happening now is an amazing kind of democratization of distribution, where you have the tools to get the film to be seen by a worldwide audience… Now the question is how do you start to monetize that? And we’re still in an infantile phase right now.
ELLE: You’re known for being in front of the camera in many of your films, but in Mansome you disappear for most of the movie. What was that like?
Spurlock: It was great. It was fantastic; I could actually just stay behind the camera. It was a different process, I wouldn’t say better… Will and Jason are much better threads for this movie than me. Let me tell the story about the ridiculous mustache I’ve shaved around for eight years and then move on.
ELLE: You shaved off your mustache in this film, was there anything surprising about your new look?
Spurlock: If you shaved your head, you’d suddenly look at yourself in the mirror and be like “Oh my God, who is that girl with the shaved head? I look like crazy Britney Spears!” You wouldn’t recognize yourself… I had this mustache for eight years. I shaved it off and suddenly it’s, “Wow, who is that person?” It feels like you’re looking at someone else in the mirror. It’s weird. Every time I would look in the mirror I would do double takes. I looked like one of those hairless dolls, but you get used to it. and it will grow back.
ELLE: Do you think you’re going to grow it back?
Spurlock: I’m going to see. I’m going to let my five o’clock shadow come in and see how that is.
ELLE: You’ve tackled a lot of subjects in documentaries, but is there something you’re still looking to do?
Spurlock: Directing a narrative feature is something that I’ve dreamed [about] for so long. This is me as a kid wanting to make movies. On the first day on set, when they clap the scene, and I’m going to say “Action!” [it’s] going to be like “Oh my God, I’m here. This is really happening now.” There’s going to be a camera and lights… It’s going to be a very different thing with actors, people I admire. I get chills thinking about it. It’s a real moment.
ELLE: Is there something in the documentary format that you still want to take on?
Spurlock: There was a friend of mine who had a kid. They were two gay fathers who adopted a son. I wanted to make a film about this kid with two gay dads in this shifting world that we live in. I want to tell the story of their child, I think it would be such a beautiful movie. I think it would change the way people look at families, especially as we see his life and the politics of everything that surrounds him… but they said, “We love this idea, but we don’t want to do this to our son because he doesn’t have a voice yet.” What if at age 12 or 13 he says, “I don’t want to be in this movie.” Then what do we do? I respect that. But my son doesn’t have that choice. [Laughs]
ELLE: Is he going to be in all your films?
Spurlock : I’m going to pimp him out in everything that I do.
Mansome is in theaters Friday, May 18.