Rob Schneider Talks ‘Dead Wrong’ And Being Inspired By Filipino Heritage

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Photos courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment
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Comedian/filmmaker Rob Schneider is essentially known for his humor and knack for storytelling. He goes the drama route in “Dead Wrong,” playing a lawyer who is in over his head in a cooked up operation that doesn’t go as planned. Schneider talked about his latest feature and also elaborated how his Filipino heritage has positively influenced his work ethic and success. Plus, he reflects on his late mother Pilar, a woman who had a fantastic life. Check out Schneider’s interview below!

“Dead: Wrong” centers on a greedy and self-centered husband named Billy (Derek Smith) who concocts a horrible plan to get himself out of fatherhood. Rob Schneider is Ethan Boggs, a lawyer who helps put Billy’s operation into motion. Ethan is in debt to Rollie (Joshua Bitton), a bloodthirsty mobster who may never let Ethan out of his sights. Both Billy and the lawyer are focused on getting out of their hardships in respective fashion, but maybe they are . . . dead wrong!!!

I loved this indie feature, which co-stars Chet Hanks, Katrina Bowden, Chelsea Debo, and Cress Williams. Director/writer Rick Bieber crafts an unapologetic, throwback crime thriller that would have fit snugly into 1990s filmmaking.

Like Rob Schneider, my mother is Filipino and they both recounted their experiences in World War Two Philippines. I asked him about how his mother Pilar inspired him to become a hard working and successful artist. He also talks about his upcoming book You Can Do It! Speak Your Mind America.

Check out the full interview below in YouTube and Q&A form (which was edited for style and clarity):

Rob, you have a really interesting character in “Dead Wrong.” 

Rob Schneider: Thank you. 

I say this in the best way. It’s a scenery chewing performance. Whenever I say that, it can be either great or not great. And I think in “Dead Wrong,” that’s great. Did you see the potential in this role and throwback to the ‘90s type movie?

Rob Schneider: Thank you. I saw the potential where it could be really good or really bad, and I like that challenge because I think at the end of the day, you know, I don’t get a lot of those, Greg.

It was cool to push (myself) in a different way instead of comedically. I think this character allowed me to be big in a way that was not what people have seen me (do) before, if that makes sense. 

Rob Schneider and Joshua Bitton in ‘Dead Wrong’ (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Yeah, well, that makes sense. But what does not make sense is the fact that you’re not offered more of these roles So many comedians make great dramatic actors. So it’s a no-brainer. 

Rob Schneider: Well, thank you for that. You do get typecast as a comedian, which is great because, when you’re getting typecast as a comedian, that means you’re getting cast in something. 

I don’t mean to speak for executives, but from what I’ve noticed, a lot of the business is really fear based. And so the executives know that their time is limited. And so they either try to tie themselves to a big picture (and) if that goes down, the whole studio goes down. 

Unlike actors looking for good movies, executives, instead of looking for the best movies or the most interesting thing, it’s ‘what will delay my inevitable firing the longest.’ So if they take a chance with a guy and it doesn’t work . . . so I understand that too. But hopefully more things will open up. And thank you for that. 

Your late mother has just one of the most interesting stories. It’s something I can relate to being a Filipino American, my mother would tell stories. And my grandmother and grandfather, they used to tell stories about World War Two in the Philippines. And I’m just wondering whether your mother’s story and journey and dedication towards her family and her career inspired you as an artist? 

Rob Schneider: Well, thank you Greg. You’re the only one who’s ever asked me that question. Thank you in such a nice way. My mother was a war survivor. Basically everything’s a bonus when you survive something like that. And it’s a blessing and a curse because it’s also . . . like my mother was the reason that the family survived.

As a 12 year old girl going out and getting food and being smart and knowing when and how to barter. They would make bed sheets. They would take bed sheets and make pajamas out of them and then go trade for kamote with the farmers. And then, you know,  (they would) have to get back and get by the Japanese sentries. It was something which she said – she was never fearful. 

Also Filipinos are the highest earners in America. Number one per capita. And the reason you don’t hear about it is because Filipinos never brag. You know, when you go over to a Filipino’s house, it’s always like, ‘how are you doing, tell us about you.’

You know, because it’s such a lovely giving thing. When I came home with straight A’s, my mom would say ‘So what, that is what’s expected, you’re smart.’ 

If you want to get an “A,” if you want to get something, a reward, then do more. I remember going, ‘Well boy I better do something special here.’ 

Growing up as a Filipino American, I just thought in the 80s first, for me it was Lou Diamond Phillips. Then I had to wait several years later for Rob Schneider. I never thought that day would come where more Asian American representation would happen in cinema and television. Are you surprised how things have changed over the years 

Rob Schneider: Stores are stories. What happens is, if they’re a good story, they have a better chance to get made. The problem is, is that again, that fearful thing; it’s just what works. 

I’ve been around long enough and this will make sense for you. Two to three percent are the real trendsetters. And then if those 2 or 3% of those projects work, then there’ll be another 10%, and those will be the maverick people who will push things forward. And then the other 30% behind that will come slowly, and then whatever’s left, by the time they come in, it’s too late. 

It’s a commercial art form. And, you know, the thing that’s interesting about it is, like in other cultures like Argentina and France or something, was that the government will fund money in Argentina. They will fund, even though it’s a very poor country. They know how important cinema and the arts are to the culture. So they’ll actually fund those pictures.

Whereas in the United States it’s just considered a purely commercial art form. But it’s important to the culture. In my new book, You Can Do It! Speak Your Mind, America, the first chapter is on my mother’s experience in the Philippines and her success as a Filipino American and I’m very proud of that. 

And that’s coming out September 24th. I’ve been trying to make a movie about her life and her childhood in the Philippines for 20 years. That’s one of the things I’d like to do before I retire. 

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I can’t imagine how many rewrites the story underwent over the 20 years! 

Rob Schneider: It’s still a book. It still has to be made. And truthfully, I’ve reached out to some Filipino writers, and it’s just going to take a few hit movies before people will say ‘what else you got.’  

I like the idea of speaking your mind, because in our society, no matter what political or religious leaning you are, people are afraid to speak their mind because they don’t want to be quote unquote canceled. But you are front and center and expressing yourself. 

Rob Schneider: Well, my mother was a union activist. She was a person who supported the union. But before the teacher’s union went crazy. And my father was proactive in the civil rights in the 50s, in 1954, after Brown versus the Board of Education. And so he was years ahead. So I kind of grew up with that. 

If it sounds wrong, say something. So I think that’s important for all Americans. And yes, there’s a fear of getting canceled. There’s always fear. But the fear is worse than not doing what you know in your heart (and to) follow your truth. The truth, not just your truth, the truth. 

I also do a podcast called Find Your Film where I ask actors and artists and filmmakers to name a movie or TV series from their body of work that they feel is underrated, overlooked, and that they should watch. So from your filmography, what would you recommend? 

That’s such a nice question. I appreciate that. I would suggest for anyone who’s liked any of my movies, and they want to be surprised, they can go see a movie that got lost in the shuffle just right before 2010. “Big Stan” – that movie is a really good one. 

It’s David Carradine’s last film. It was a wonderful little movie. It’s a mean little movie, which I liked at that time. And I think that one holds up. (“Big Stan”) is popular in some parts of the world, and people really like watching it. So I hope you guys see that one. 

You directed that, right? 

First movie (I) ever directed. Yeah. 

Have you always been passionate as a filmmaker? And your next directing effort “Amor es Amor” is in post?

Rob Schneider: “Amor es Amor” is done. That movie is in Spanish, and so we’re trying to find the distributor for that because Paramount Pictures and the whole studio’s in disarray at this point. They’re selling the studio, they’re selling their  streaming service, so they don’t know what they want to do. And I don’t mind saying that out loud because they don’t know what they want to do with the picture. 

But it’ll see the light of day. If it’s a good movie, people will see it. 

Final question is an advice question. What’s the key to actually overcoming stage fright, if you ever had it in the first place and speaking and telling your stories to a packed house?

Rob Schneider: If you’re Filipino, it helps because when I used to go to my relative’s house and there’d be everybody there, the generous laughter from Filipinos was so beautiful that it just actually encouraged me to get up on stage.

Because, hey, all these people love me and they’ll think I’m funny! So that’s good. Start there. If you’re not Filipino, meet Filipinos and then go over to their house and then you’ll be comfortable talking because Filipinos will always ask you about you instead of talking about themselves. 

It’s such a beautiful quality, I love that. 

Yeah. Rob, finally, I don’t know if you share the sentiment, but my big regret being my early 50s is I haven’t had the time to go back to the Philippines that much. I’ve only been back maybe 2 or 3 times since I was a kid. 

I’m gonna go back soon. We’re gonna go back soon. I’m going to take my kids because they don’t understand. There’s like a whole level. Mexico is similar. There’s just another level of of kindness and an appreciation of life. And, you know, America’s great and America, you work hard, you get your benefits off it. 

But you tend to live your life for work because of this fictionalized idea of what it’s going to be after you’re done with the work and then you just spend your life working. So I tell all my audiences that I perform live. Now, stop what you’re doing. Go travel. Go spend time with family. Doesn’t matter. Take time off work and borrow money. Sell your car – but travel. Live your life now. 

And that’s something that I got from all my Filipino relatives. So you’re going to love the book. 

Oh, I can’t I can’t wait to check out the book. Rob, again, thank you so much for being generous with your time. 

Rob Schneider: Thank you very much, Greg. Salamat.

“Dead Wrong” hits Blu-ray and Digital May 21, 2024 via Mill Creek Entertainment.

Purchase Dead Wrong on Blu-ray via Amazon to support Deepest Dream (we receive a slight commission).

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