Where's Danny Wallace?
Who would play you in a movie about your life? It's ideal pub fodder, complementing that 'one last' pint or glass of wine, but for Danny Wallace it has all been ruined. Yes Man will be hitting cinemas just after Christmas and is based on the Islington resident's adventures during a year when he decided that no was a dirty word - and Jim Carrey will be the man to tell the story. "When it comes to big, silly comedy, Jim Carrey is the guy that I would have chosen," Danny happily agrees.
This is the second time that we have interviewed the writer/TV presenter and both times we have found him to be an amiable chap, more than happy to offer us a glimpse into how his mind works. He readily admits that the whole Hollywood thing is a little distracting - "When I stop and think about it, it blows my mind," he laughs - and is yet another consequence of simply saying yes more. "The odd thing is that it all happened because I decided to write everything down. Jim Carrey has a haircut in the movie because I had one, sat down and made a note of it. There are news anchors in the US saying 'Yes Man' - what if I called it Death Kitten Face? These tiny decisions made it all happen."
Death Kitten Face doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the superhuman sounding Yes Man, but there wasn't anything heroic about how the book came to life. "I was at a crossroads. I had started a cult and that was fun," he says rather too easily, referring to the story of Join Me, where he managed to create his very own Karma Army. "But my ex-girlfriend had become an ex because of that cult - girls don't seem to like that much - and I was left sitting alone in my flat. I slipped into a habit of saying no and staying in. If I was depressed, I was happy about it. Then someone said something to me that struck a cord - 'say yes more'..."
So he did. To everything. From buying another round in the pub, to travelling the world at the drop of a hat (read about some of our favourites later), Danny did just that - and turned it into a barnstorming, and critically acclaimed, read (perfect for a New Year too if you are unsure about your resolutions). That was published in 1995 and proved to be the catalyst for Danny's career to really take off. Since then he has presented a documentary comedy, How To Start Your Own Country, in which he started his own micronation - Lovely - in his London flat; Sky came calling, with Danny Wallace's Hoax Files doing what it said on the tin; he has his own Xfm show; has presented an episode of Horizon (and look out for him doing so again in December, in a programme called Where's My Robot?); and he presented two series of School's Out, in which celebrities are quizzed on topics they learnt at school (and the reason we last featured Danny within these pages).
It does beg the question if he would get away with something like Yes Man these days. After all, he is a happily married man with a flourishing TV career on the side. "People keep their eyes on me a bit more now," he admits, and we are sure we can hear a little disappointment in his voice. "If I started acting strangely, my friends would think I must be doing it because of a 'new thing'. So I guess it's harder, but I don't want to do something for the sake of doing it. Never say never. I would perhaps say never-ish."
It has been two years since he went on his last 'adventure'. Approaching 30 and realising that cushions had started to play a huge role in his life, he wondered when it all changed. What happened to the days of playing and performing in school plays? What about his friends who were turning 30 too - did they have the same worries about the future? Danny decided to find out, dragging out an old contacts book that featured names and numbers of his old school friends, and attempting to track them down. "That was brilliant," he looks back at Friends Like These (incidentally, he celebrated his 32nd birthday two days before this interview). "It really felt like I was rekindling old friendships, but also making new friends as well - it was a two for one deal. I am still in touch with them all."
His books to date have prominently featured those around him, so how do they react to reading about themselves? "I always feel a little strange about it," he admits. "I send them through their copy and ask, 'If I have missed something out, let me know'... Looking at the film of Yes Man, Molly Sims - the actress and supermodel - plays my ex-girlfriend Hanne. I had to text her saying, 'Just to let you know, Molly Sims is playing you. Any problems, let me know'. She text back, 'This is fine with me'!"
Yes Man the film has certainly been Americanised, but that's something that doesn't bother Danny. "There are aspects that are very different from the book, but it is set in LA. The book will never be changed, so it's exciting to have something different. They sent me scripts and asked me questions, and you can sense the spirit of the book running right through the film. A lot of things are similar - for example, you can really see [his friends] Ian and Wag - but there's more falling over in a Jim Carrey kind of way."
OK, it can't be ignored any more, would he has chosen Carrey to play Danny Wallace? "In my head before the film came about, I thought that John Cusack would have been really cool. But I am not a hitman - he would play me brilliantly if I was!"
Yes Man will be released nationwide on December 26. See what Danny is getting up to at www.dannywallace.com
THE ACTS OF YES...
Danny decides to buy a newspaper on the spur of the moment, wins £25,000 on a scratchcard inside, before losing it all by making it void (by scratching off every option to check he had really won): "I have got friends who are still angry with me because of that. I guess I still look at it by saying yes won me the money, but being a twat lost me the money. If I continue to say yes more and be a twat less, then hopefully it won't happen again."
Danny goes to Amsterdam after winning an international lottery, realises it is a scam, goes out and wakes up with a portrait of him and a dog: "It's a dangerous place, but also a world of unlimited opportunity. I ended up in a gay bar, which is dangerous if you are a straight man who has decided to say yes to everything."
Danny buys a 13-year-old Nissan Figaro: "I have still got it. I had an MOT test on it the other day - it failed on nine counts. It's currently sitting in an Islington garage."
Danny continues to poke a monk in an attempt to anger him: "There was a video of that, which was requested so often it is now on YouTube. Trying to vex a monk - I can tick that off the list."
Danny meets Hugh Lennon and his hypnodog: "I am still very much in touch with Hugh. I have just filmed a pilot involving hypnotism. We hypnotised five people and when I was presenting the show, I had no idea about what was going to happen. I would read off the autocue, 'Join me after the break', and that would be a trigger for someone to abuse me!"
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