By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 27, 2011 at 9:20AM
By Ryan Sartor. After a rough decade on television (“Big Shots,” “Dark Blue”) and an even rougher one in film (“Texas Rangers,” something called “Unbeatable Harold”), things are finally turning around for former “Practice” heartthrob Dylan McDermott. He’s currently starring in the FX series “American Horror Story,” and has now snagged a role in the Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis political comedy “Dog Fight” (formerly-titled “Southern Rivals"), playing a political consultant running Galifianakis’ campaign. This will be McDermott’s first chance to flex his onscreen comedic muscles since way back in 1999, when he seduced Neve Campbell—and the world—in the romantic comedy “Three to Tango.” It will be interesting to see if director Jay Roach lets McDermott cut loose with a broad comedic take on the role, or if the actor will be playing it straight, as one would expect.
If McDermott is playing a more serious role, though, it could be interesting for the film’s direction. There has yet to be any indication as to how political “Dog Fight” will be. Roach has proven himself an astute director of political drama, lending his services to the HBO films “Recount” and the upcoming “Game Change.” That career trajectory is in great contrast to Roach’s recent comedic work with the embarrassing “Meet the Fockers,” and tepid “Dinner for Schmucks.” It’s been far too long since Roach showed signs of the adept comedic hand present in “Meet the Parents” and the first “Austin Powers” film.
The name change from “Southern Rivals” to a more generic “Dog Fight” isn’t a good sign, but we can assume that Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will be hilarious—and the recent addition of the dependable Jason Sudeikis doesn’t hurt. This film feels like a real turning point for Roach, though. One more middle-of-the-road comedy, and he’ll be due for some Garry Marshall comparisons.
“Dog Fight” starts shooting in November, but Deadline reports that McDermott will join the cast in early December, presumably to allow himself time to finish shooting the first season of “American Horror Story.” McDermott recently wrapped “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Nobody Walks,” a film co-written by Playlist commenter darling Lena Dunham.