At the beginning of "The Trip to Italy," the follow-up to 2010's wry, melancholic gastro-tour, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon pose a question: Why are they doing this again? Sequels are never good.
Along with the inevitable "Godfather Part II" retort comes lots of impressions of Al Pacino. And Gore Vidal. And Sean Connery. And, yes, Michael Caine. Their impression-offs, which shot Michael Winterbottom's art house film "The Trip" into the viral stratosphere, remains the bread and butter of the BBC series-turned-feature film. "That's what makes it different," Brydon told HuffPost Entertainment about the sequel. "The fact that it's not different; it's the same."
This time, they're zipping around sun-soaked Italian vistas (in a Mini Cooper, to thread the "Italian Job" needle) and singing along to Alanis Morissette. There's sumptuous food -- more mouthwatering than the original -- and truly arresting scenery. (Less costume drama, more Fellini-fodder.) The details may have changed, but it's still Rob and Steve endlessly, hilariously struggling to one-up each other. It's the same shtick, and we're still laughing.
With "The Trip to Italy" hitting theaters stateside, Brydon spoke to us about the angst of "Jagged Little Pill" and what Michael Caine thinks about his impression.
The Michael Caine bit became a sort of viral hit, how much of the first film's success do you think was due to YouTube rather than fans of the actual film?
It certainly helps. I mean, more people have seen the clip than the film, that's for sure. I think it just helps to get it out there. It's what they call an art movie, isn't it? You know, nothing's blowing up, no exploding. I'm not being bitten by a radioactive mouse and becoming Mouse Man, so it's fairly cerebral as films go. It's largely two men talking. I think the Caine clip probably made it seem very accessible. Because Michael Caine seems to be zeitgeist-y for all of his career, doesn't he? One way or another. He's certainly very zeitgeist-y now with Christopher Nolan. I think it helped a great deal, actually.
Do you feel pressured to continue to do the Michael Caine impression?
There was certainly some discussion beforehand. "Do we do the same [impressions]? We got to have some new ones." You know, in the first film we do Michael Caine more than once because that's the reality of what would happen. I think for people who like "The Trip," I think that's part of the appeal. Because if you buy into "The Trip," then that's part of it. I must admit before we did it, I was thinking, I've got to learn some new ones. And I got it into my head that I'd learn Daniel Craig, but I'm inherently lazy so I didn't do it.
Have you met Michael Caine before or since doing your impression?
I've never met Michael Caine. He emailed me and that was nice ... It was a brief email. I think he joked that he should have been paid for it or something. Jokingly. I must stress, jokingly. Something like, "I appeared in that movie so much, and yet I didn't get paid." But he liked it very much.
Has anyone else ever commented on your impression of them?
I got to know Anthony Hopkins a bit since we did "The Trip to Italy," and he laughs his head off. In fact, the first time I met him he said, "Oh, I love 'The Trip.'" I said, "We made another one now in Italy. And we're on a yacht and we're doing [the scene from ['The Bounty']." And he started doing it back to me. The two of us were doing this at the top of our voices and I was sitting there thinking, This is pretty unusual.
What was the story behind Alanis Morissette's album "Jagged Little Pill" becoming the chosen driving music?
That was Michael Winterbottom, he came up with that. And I remember me and Steve going, "Eh, I don't know." Because people have done all the gags about "Ironic," but of course we don't play that.
But I think it's so plausible that that would be the one CD in my bag ... The album went back into the British charts after the show went out here. It was great as well because it was teen angst being listened to by two middle-aged men. I came away thinking it was one of the best decisions Michael made on it. I also love that we're in a small car, we're trapped in a small car together, listening to this music while we moan to each other about getting older.
"The Trip to Italy" hits theaters Aug. 15.
This interview has been edited and condensed.