'Brigsby Bear' Star Kyle Mooney Reveals His VHS Favorites and What It Was Like Working With Mark Hamill

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Once the dominant format in home entertainment, VHS tapes have been relegated to the dustbin since the late 1990s, when DVDs began their rise to supremacy. But there’s at least one person out there doing his part to keep the VHS era alive. In a Facebook Live interview with Yahoo MoviesSaturday Night Live star Kyle Mooney revealed that his New York abode is filled with videotapes of ’80s and ’90s movies and TV shows that haven’t necessarily made the leap to other formats. “I’ve got a massive VHS collection in my apartment,” Mooney says. “Some people think that it’s not a good thing, but I find comfort in it.” (Watch our full Facebook Live interview below.)

Besides comfort, Mooney also finds inspiration in those old tapes. His new film, Brigsby Bear, in which he stars and co-wrote, grew out of the kiddie shows he grew up religiously watching, including a Teddy Ruxpin special and the Disney Channel show, Welcome to Pooh Corner. Mooney’s Brigsby Bear alter ego, James Pope, is similarly reared on a TV character — the titular talking ursine. But it soon turns out that Brigsby, like James’s entire childhood, is a lie. Kidnapped as a child, he’s been raised in an underground bunker by “Mom” and “Dad” (Jane Adams and Mark Hamill).

In the wake of a police raid, he’s released back into the real world where severe culture shock awaits. Not surprisingly, he turns back to his childhood hero, Brigsby Bear, for consolation. “What I like about [those shows] is that they toe that line between happy and cool and warm and creepy,” Mooney remarks, all adjectives that effectively summarize the film itself, which opens in theaters on Friday. Watch the full interview above, and read on to see which ’80s favorites he recommends movie buffs catch up on, and what it was like having Luke Skywalker as an onscreen father figure.

In the annals of movie history, 1988’s Mac and Me is generally dismissed as an inferior E.T. knockoff and feature-length McDonald’s commercial. Believe it or not, it holds a prized place in Mooney’s heart. “I like McDonald’s, and I certainly liked it when that movie came out,” he jokes. “There’s a big dance scene in the middle of that movie taking place at a McDonald’s where there are dudes in football uniforms and cheerleaders and Mac is in a teddy bear suit. It has all the things I love.”

Mooney had only one word to describe the experience of acting opposite childhood hero Mark Hamill: “Rad.” The Star Wars star filmed his role over the course of three days, and Mooney kept vacillating on when would be the right time to proclaim his childhood affection for all things related to that galaxy far, far away. “Eventually I got the courage to ask him to autograph two Star Wars comics for my niece and nephew. This movie has a lot to do with nostalgia and who better to represent that than Luke Skywalker himself?”

With Hamill in such close proximity, we had to wonder whether Mooney took the opportunity to badger him for spoilers about The Last Jedi. But Hamill kept mum about the next chapter in the Skywalker saga. “He didn’t tell me anything. One of the only things he said about the current movies was when was asked about why he chose to take on this role in our movie, he said in reference to [The Force Awakens]: ‘In this one, they let me talk.’ Which is true, we did let him talk!”

Even though Brigsby Bear isn’t real, he had to feel real for the characters in the film, not to mention the audience. To come up with a full-sized bear costume that would convincingly resemble an ’80s TV favorite, the production turned to Stoopid Buddy Studios, which has designed props and characters for such shows as Robot Chicken and Supermansion. “We didn’t want to make it too silly; we wanted to make the show as entertaining as it could be … without it going too far into parody. I did wear the outfit, not all the time, but it was very difficult to see through.” It was also pretty warm under all that fake fur. “[We were shooting] in Utah in late July, so hot to the point where I was practically underneath it. I came out of that suit very wet and sweaty. Some imagery for the audience.”

Get your pens ready, because here are the three ’80s classics Mooney personally recommends you catch up with. First, the 1984 hip-hop comedy Beat Street. “It’s got a lot of cool, old-school hip-hop performances in it.” Next, the cult 1985 sequel Return to Oz. “It’s one of those that has the creep factor, but is also made for kids.” And finally, the 1986 sports movie Thrashin’“It’s a skateboard movie that stars a young Josh Brolin.” Look for all of them on VHS.

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