Ron Livingston only plays a heartless social climber in Dinner for Schmucks, a movie about corporate raiders who host a party just to make fun of the guests. In the movie, out Friday, Livingston plays a stiff suit in the same company as Paul Rudd, who wants to get a promotion by bringing a “schmuck” (Steve Carell) to the dinner.
“I don’t know how entertaining a party like that would be,” Livingston says from his home in L.A. “Anyone who has to go to that kind of trouble to feel superior is not necessarily someone I would want to hang out with.”
Livingston is no stranger to playing a wage slave: The Iowa native, 43, cemented his career in the 1999 cult classic Office Space, about an IT geek who despises his job (‘‘I’ve always had a soft spot for that movie.”).
And if he weren’t a big screen star, doing the cubicle jockey thing might not be such a stretch. “When I started out, I never waited tables, but I made a pretty good office temp,” he says. “I was pretty skilled; I typed 60 words a minute.”
Livingston’s costar, Carell, also has some workplace experience. Working with The Office boss and the rest of the cast (includ- ing The Hangover‘s Zach Galifianakis and Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement) was a blast, just as you’d expect. Improv was welcome.
“Everybody understands that when you’ve got the talent like these guys have, it doesn’t make any sense not to give them a go at it,” says the newlywed (he married his Standoff co-star Rosemarie DeWitt in November). “It was kind of like the perfect storm. The cast was so in tune with each other.”
Though Livingston has strapped on the white collar for a few roles, his next project is a big departure: playing a macho line dancer in the upcoming indie Queens of Country. Sounds like somebody doesn’t want to be typecast.
“I’ve kind of made it a point to never get stuck doing one thing where I’d get a chance to get bored,” he says. “I’ve looked at my career like a 9-year-old kid at Disney- land. I want to go on each ride once.”