PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we ask people we admire to do something they don't understand. It's called Not My Job. Will Arnett specializes in playing rather unpleasant people but in a way that makes them adorable. He was Gob on "Arrested Development." He's the voice of Lego Batman. And he just finished the sixth and final season of playing the lead role on "BoJack Horseman" on Netflix. We hope he's actually pleasant in real life. Will Arnett, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
WILL ARNETT: Oh, thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you, such a pleasure to talk to you.
SAGAL: I cannot count all the things that you've done that I've so much loved, going back to "30 Rock" and a lot of other things. But let me ask you, do you think that my characterization of your typical role was correct - that you tend to play people who are not that pleasant?
ARNETT: Well, yeah. You know, it's a lot better than some people describe it as - that I play a-holes and...
ARNETT: ...I tend to see them as just broken people. I find characters who are, A, quite stupid and, B, quite confident to be really funny to me.
ARNETT: And then if they have some - usually, I like to think that they have some underlying, major sort of psychosis happening, something that's driving them to be this way. That's how I kind of justify it.
SAGAL: Right. So, yeah, they're mean and sometimes abusive to the people around them. But they're hurting inside.
ARNETT: Sure (laughter).
SAGAL: Yeah, yeah. To hell with that. Anyway, they're jokes.
SAGAL: Yeah. I once read that you didn't intend to end up in comedy as much as you have, that you were going to be a serious actor.
ARNETT: Yeah. I - that was my hope, that I would end up as a - I wanted people to take me really seriously. And - anyway, that didn't happen but...
ARNETT: And still to this day. But you know, it's fine. I...
SAGAL: It's fine.
ARNETT: I always - I also say that, like - people say, did you do sketch or standup? And I said no, no, no. I was too dumb to think of that as an option.
ARNETT: I didn't even - I was like, oh, yeah. I should have done sketch, you know?
SAGAL: Yeah. But now here you are, just very successful. You poor guy.
SAGAL: You just finished season six of "BoJack," which is about a washed-up Hollywood actor who's also a horse. When you first got this script, were you at all - did you have to be convinced? Or did you love it right away?
ARNETT: You know, it was one of those - I remember when it was first sent to me, they didn't really say anything. They just said, read this really funny script. And the first page, I remember thinking, what?
ARNETT: And then - but then it was so funny. You know, we made this - it was such a - it was undeniably funny and great. And of course, as you remember, that first season, especially the first episode, wasn't as heavy. But you could see that there were kind of undertones there of something else going on. This guy who had a lot of self-loathing, etc., etc. And I'm like, oh, yeah. This is my kind of guy. And I just thought, yeah. This is terrific.
SAGAL: Yeah. It was really - and it's been quite a journey because this very broad comedy, as you say, ended up being this very dark and sometimes very serious and moving exploration of, like, this guy's serious problems...
SAGAL: ...Which is weird because he's still a horse.
ARNETT: Yes. (Laughter). I always say it's for - considering that it's - it - that he's a horse, it's one of the most human stories...
ARNETT: ...I've been a part of.
SAGAL: It is kind of weird. Are you going to miss BoJack now that you're done with him?
ARNETT: Yes and no in that, yes, it was a - it's been such a great thing to be a part of. No in the sense that, you know, it's quite heavy and kind of often quite depressing to be a part of.
SAGAL: Yes. It is the most depressing cartoon ever made. I - it might well be.
ARNETT: That is a fact.
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: Well, you wanted people to take you seriously so...
ARNETT: Yeah. I know. Well, I got it. And then many times we finished recording, and I look through the - across, you know, through the glass at Raphael Bob-Waksberg and I'd say, you are going to pay for all my therapy.
SAGAL: This might be, the show was your therapy.
BILL KURTIS: (Laughter).
SAGAL: I want to ask you about a couple more things. I discovered just this week something that I should have figured out because I've seen them dozens and dozens of times...
ARNETT: That I'm a Taurus?
SAGAL: Yeah, no.
SAGAL: Well, we did have that kind of strange connection. No, that you are the voice of GMC trucks.
SAGAL: And I don't think I recognized it because in those ads, you're so sincere about how great a truck it is when I would expect you to say something like, $40,000 for a pickup? Come on. I mean, that's what I'd expect.
ARNETT: Yeah. Peter, let me first of all say that they are great trucks. And I know...
ARNETT: And - I mean, they're professional-grade so.
SAGAL: Yeah. I've heard that. I've heard that.
LUKE BURBANK: Hey, Will, this is Luke Burbank. I'm a huge fan. I'm just wondering, like, if I were to see you on the street, I would have to really stifle the urge to come up and sort of, like, yell some Gob Bluth line at you. Is there a particular line from that show that you are OK with people saying to you and one you like less? I just want to know what to do when I meet you.
ARNETT: (Laughter) Well, first of all, I implore you not to frighten me.
ARNETT: But I do get a lot of people coming up and yelling things at me. I get people coming up and they'll say, come on, of course. I'll have people either ask me to do the chicken dance or do the chicken dance themselves on the street.
ARNETT: I have people come up to me and look at me and kind of take a pause, look at me and then just go, Michael.
SAGAL: I once read that actual magicians got mad at you for depicting a magician as such a doofus.
ARNETT: Yeah. You know, I had heard we - one time, we worked with this magician who was helping us out - great guy. And he was the one who alerted me to that. He said, yeah, a lot of the guys up at the magic castle, you know - they're all kind of grumbling because you're making us look bad. Well, you know, can't you use magic to get out of it?
SAGAL: Well, Will Arnett, it is an absolute joy to talk to you. We could do it all day. But we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
KURTIS: BoJack, meet boat Jack.
SAGAL: So as we've established, you've played BoJack Horseman, which made us wonder, what do you know about boat Jacks, that is people named Jack who hang around boats.
SAGAL: Answer two out of three questions about boat Jacks, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners.
Bill, who is Will Arnett playing for?
KURTIS: Tom Marino of New York City.
SAGAL: All right. Ready to do this?
ARNETT: I sure am. Boy, that's a great announcer voice. I love the way Bill says that.
SAGAL: Isn't it amazing?
ARNETT: So good.
SAGAL: I know.
KURTIS: I like GMC trucks.
ARNETT: Hey, Bill. Quit talking about the GMC trucks.
ARNETT: You're going to edge me out of my gig.
SAGAL: All right, here is your first question. Captain Jack Sparrow was the immensely popular hero of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movies, but Johnny Depp also played that character in another vehicle. What was it? A, in a direct-to-video spinoff called "Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight..."
SAGAL: ...B, he replaced the animatronic Jack Sparrow and the actual "Pirates Of The Caribbean" ride, holding perfectly still till the boat came by, and then he freaked out the riders; or, C, he appeared in commercials for the failed vegan dessert bars called Pirates of the Carob Eating.
ARNETT: How absurd. OK. I'm going to say B. I mean, he didn't do it for very long. But I'm going to say B.
SAGAL: You're right. That's what he did.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: You can find video.
SAGAL: He did it back on 2017.
SAGAL: There are Captain Jacks all over the ride, and at one point, of them started waving and talking to the tourists. And it was, in fact, Johnny Depp.
All right, another famous boat Jack is Sailor Jack. He is the cartoon mascot on boxes of Cracker Jack. But he hasn't only pushed that classic snack. He also once tried to get people to eat what? A, Crack Jack, a poorly thought-out version that was advertised as addictive as the real thing...
SAGAL: ...B, Cracker Jack'd, a performance-enhancing version of the snack...
SAGAL: ...Or C, Cracker Jackson Pollack's, which you eat after sprinkling them at random on the floor.
ARNETT: Oh, man.
ARNETT: I'm going to have to say B again.
SAGAL: B again. You're right.
KURTIS: You're right.
SAGAL: Cracker Jack'd...
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: ...Had caffeine.
SAGAL: Didn't do well. All right, last question. Maybe the most famous boat Jack was the character Jack Dawson played by Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic." Now, the cast of that movie endured a lot of hardships on the set but maybe the worst was when what happened? A, as practice for a pivotal scene, DiCaprio insisted on painting every member of the crew like one of his, quote, "French girls..."
SAGAL: ...B, an extra trying to impress James Cameron actually drowned himself to show his commitment; or, C, the entire cast and crew was dosed with PCP which somebody put into the chowder during a lunch on set, leading to, among many other things, a spontaneous conga line led down the hospital corridor by the cinematographer, who was as high as a kite?
ARNETT: You know what? I'm going to say C.
SAGAL: You're right
KURTIS: You're right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: That's exactly what happened.
KURTIS: Three in a row, Will. That's very good.
SAGAL: To this day, nobody knows who spiked the chowder. But that is a true story.
ARNETT: Wow. What a - that's crazy.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Will Arnett do on our quiz?
KURTIS: He scored the trifecta. Congratulations, Will.
SAGAL: Will Arnett is BoJack Horseman on Netflix's "BoJack Horseman." The final season is out now on Netflix.
Will Arnett, thank you so much for joining us, an absolute joy to talk to.
ARNETT: Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you so much.
KURTIS: Thank you, Will. See you.
(SOUNDBITE OF PATRICK CARNEY'S "BOJACK'S THEME")
SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill rides a bucking bronco in our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.