Rob Schneider Kisses and Tells
The actor with Hawaii ties is one of the big names starring in a film by a Hawaii production company
It’s no surprise that Rob Schneider can multi-task. He’s a busy man, after all. During our exclusive interview with him last week to promote the new film You May Not Kiss The Bride, he was shopping at a health food store in Los Angeles, politely hung up to check out, and then returned the call while driving his Tesla.
Yes, he has an electric car, but also enjoys race car driving at the track, dirt bike riding and horseback riding.
“I used to have an old 1955 Porsche that I got and sold to somebody in China,” he says. “Those are fun hobbies, and I love playing baseball.”
The part-Filipino actor who spent a lot of his childhood in Hawaii is busy working on a stand-up special, plus his wife Patricia is pregnant, so he can’t make it to Hawaii for the red carpet premiere of You May Not Kiss The Bride Aug. 29 (opening to the public Aug. 31).
“She’s about to pop in a couple of months,” he says. “And I’ve been working my tail off. But I would’ve loved to have gone out there.
“I usually get out to Hawaii once a year, but my work hasn’t been able to bring me out there. It’s one of the greatest places in the world.
“My grandfather used to live in Hawaii, and when I was little we used to visit often. We’d spend like a month there, and I remember going like seven or eight times when I was a kid. It was amazing. When I think about my childhood, I think about being in Hawaii, how beautiful it was and all the crazy adventures.”
You May Not Kiss The Bride is a romantic comedy set in Chicago and Tahiti, and shot almost entirely in Hawaii. It stars Dave Annable, Katharine McPhee, Mena Suvari, Ken Davitian, Tia Carrere, Vinnie Jones, Kevin Dunn, Kathy Bates, and Schneider as an off-beat, quirky Spanish helicopter pilot named Ernesto.
According to producers Rann and Gina Watumull, co-founders and senior executives of Hawaii Film Partners, Schneider was the best person for the part, and filming in Hawaii helped in getting him.
“He loves Hawaii and has a heart for Hawaii, so we had that in our favor,” explains Rann.
“On set, he is a tremendous improvisor and would make us laugh. There were so many times he did things that made me as a producer laugh out loud and ruin the take.”
In addition to his stand-up movie (which he says will most likely end up on Showtime and in theaters in different parts of the world), he’s been writing a couple of movies, developing a TV show for himself and has a new movie called Teaching Me To Dance with Gale Anne Hurd.
“I’m actually trying to do something with Manny Pacquiao too, believe it or not,” he shares. “He’s the most exciting boxer of the decade.”
Schneider hasn’t been back to Hawaii since filming You May Not Kiss The Bride in 2009. When here, he enjoys going to the North Shore, grabbing a hamburger and, of course, shave ice.
He also likes to eat fresh papaya and dine at Hy’s Steak House, where he sometimes goes with Adam Sandler.
“When I’m in Hawaii I feel relaxed,” he says. “The Hawaiians are really respectful, the locals are really cool, the tourists get a little crazy. We just love the Islands. When we go there to make movies, it’s ’cause we love Hawaii. We really get the magic of the Islands, and that’s something Adam and I have in common.”
Besides acting and comedy, Schneider confesses that he’s a pretty good karaoke singer. “I’m as good as Manny Pacquiao in karaoke, and I do some boxing and some escrima. You’d be surprised, I’m pretty good at that.”
Schneider also is proud of his Filipino heritage, and credits his mom, who is half Filipino, for teaching him to be tenacious and to overachieve.
“I think that’s part of being Asian,” he explains. “Like, getting straight A’s doesn’t mean anything. I said, ‘Mom, I got straight A’s,’ and she says, ‘So what, stupid, you’re supposed to.’ But that’s very unique. Asian parents expect you to overachieve because they believe in you.
“Also, Filipinos are caretakers, and I feel like I’ve become a caretaker. I feel like I want to continue to be a caretaker for people, not just for my family but for anybody.”
As someone who makes a living by making others laugh, Schneider says the things he finds humorous include stupidity, arrogance, people falling down, British humor, little kids, politicians, doctors who think they know everything, and the new Zach Galifianakis movie with Will Ferrell (The Campaign).
As for pranks he’s played, he claims to not be a huge prankster, but recently did one on comedian Norm Macdonald. “I was in Nashville doing a couple of shows there, and Norm was on a billboard for some insurance company, and I know he did it because he gets money knowing that no one’s ever going to see it,” Schneider recalls. “So I took pictures of it and said, hey, dude, I just saw you on a billboard. He said where the hell was that? I said L.A. on the corner of Wilshire and Pico — and Wilshire and Pico don’t meet, so I thought he would be able to figure that out, but he panicked and he was like what the hell, man, and I told him I was just kidding.”
Some other fun facts: He hates to admit his tango lessons; doesn’t have a celebrity crush but picks Ryan Gosling because his wife likes him; quit smoking cigars and being a womanizer; is a red wine drinker; avoids sugar and processed foods; keeps his fridge stocked with almond butter; is a staunch opponent of vaccines; and lists going to the gym as his least favorite chore. Also, every time he travels, he carries a picture of his mom when she was 16 that his dad used to carry in his wallet, and lists coconut oil as his favorite beauty product.
“I use it for everything — on my skin, a little bit of what’s left of my hair. It’s great,” he says. “You can eat it and it’s good for your cholesterol, your blood pressure and it’s good for your antiviral properties. It’s a miracle food.”
While he doesn’t know when his next trip to Hawaii will be, fans can soon check out You May Not Kiss The Bride, and it’ll be like seeing him here.
“I really loved playing that guy Ernesto, and I really loved working with the actors on the movie,” says Schneider. “Rob Hedden was a terrific director, and I would love to work with him again.
“There are some really funny scenes in there, and I hope people get a good laugh out of it.”
Producers Rann and Gina Watumull never intended to go into show business. In a way, Hollywood called them. Gina is an attorney and Rann worked at Bank of Hawaii as creator/manager of family wealth management. While at a friend’s wedding, they were sitting with Hawaii film commissioner Donne Dawson, who talked about going to Hollywood to promote Act 221. Rann was familiar with the new law from the investment aspect, and Dawson quickly recruited him to join her in Hollywood. The Watumulls already planned to be in L.A. to visit son Brenden, who played volleyball at University of California-Irvine, and before they could return home, studios were calling wanting to meet with Rann more.
In 2002, they co-founded Hawaii Film Partners, a company dedicated to producing motion pictures, television shows and animated projects in Hawaii with Hawaii ownership.
Now, they celebrate the release of their first movie, You May Not Kiss The Bride, opening at Consolidated Theatres in Hawaii Aug. 31 followed by a national release Sept. 21. “We’re so excited because this is a Hawaii product,” says Rann. “This is not just us; this is investors, crew, extras — it’s a homegrown Hawaii product we’re taking to the world, and that was our goal from the start.”
Hawaii Film Partners, which also includes producers David and Shauna Jackson as co-owners and senior executives along with the Watumulls, first came out with the award-winning TV show Flight 29 Down for Discovery Kids, which continues to air in 100 countries. They also produced 38 two-minute animated episodes of Ape Escape for Nickelodeon’s NickToons network.
Then, in 2009, they filmed You May Not Kiss The Bride directed by Rob Hedden from his original screenplay. “We spent $6.5 million, which by Hollywood studio standards is unheard of,” explains Gina.
The film has since been sold to a long list of countries around the world, including Russia, which has already released a dubbed version of it. And with the film’s stars Katharine McPhee starring in NBC’s hit show Smash and Dave Annable in ABC’s highly anticipated series 666 Park Avenue, the timing of the release could not be better.
The film also features local talent and musicians, with 13 of the 18 songs by Hawaii artists. A private screening of the film is scheduled for Aug. 29 at Ward Centers, with the cast, crew, musicians and investors all invited to walk the red carpet. So far, actors Ken Davitian and Tia Carrere have confirmed their attendance, and the public is welcome to watch the red carpet arrivals.
Next for Hawaii Film Partners is an animated series called Guardians of the Power Masks, which is in its final stages of post production. “Korea already started showing the first episodes,” says Rann, noting that they partnered with Korea and China on this project consisting of 26 half-hour episodes. “We have a 9-year-old daughter we adopted from China when she was 1, and we wanted something great for her, and she loves this show.
“Also, we just got an exciting offer to have it shown here which will be announced this fall.”