Will Arnett opens up about falling off the wagon while shooting Netflix’s ‘Flaked’

Author of the article:Nelson BrancoPublishing date:Jun 05, 2017  •  June 5, 2017  •  3 minute read

Will Arnett in a scene from Netflix's Flaked. (Netflix Photo)

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NEW YORK – Will Arnett admits his Netflix series hit a little too close to home.

Arnett, who co-created, wrote, directed and produced Flaked, plays 40-year-old alcoholic man-child Chip.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year, the die-hard Maple Leafs fan candidly admitted he fell off the wagon while shooting the dramedy loosely based on his life.

The fact that the first day of shooting coincided with his 15-year-anniversary of being sober and that he was still grappling with the end of his nine-year marriage to Amy Poehler didn’t help. (The former spouses have two boys together: Archibald, 9; and Abel, 6.)

Arnett said, “As I was writing all this s— [on Flaked] and I start shooting it, I started getting confused about where I was at. Hardly anybody knows this, but I started drinking again.”

Fast forward a year later: Postmedia Network caught up with Arnett in New York City to find out how he’s doing and what we can expect for Chip in season two of the underrated series, now streaming on Netflix.

The good news? It turns out there might be a happy ending for Arnett and Chip.

“Chip’s living this inauthentic life,” explains the Toronto native of his character. “He created this persona to avoid who he really was. He reinvented himself in Venice – a place which is perfect transform. Venice has rapidly changed over the past 15 years since I lived there. I thought it was a perfect backdrop for the character to explore himself. Everything seems sunny and nice but there’s (a dark underbelly) to it. We liked the idea of this kind of world and character intersecting.”

Since Flaked’s narrative was so personal and semi-autobiographical, does Arnett recommend turning pain and pathos into art? Did it save him money on therapy?

“It’s scary,” admits Arnett. “Especially when it’s relevant to your own life and you’re offering that kind of brutal honesty to an audience. But it’s not therapy. It’s the sloppiest form of therapy, to be honest. Sharing on Flaked wasn’t my original aim but I felt it was incumbent on me to be as honest as I could through this character.”

One of the reasons Arnett opened up to the press about his personal struggles was because of the show’s harsh reviews by critics.

He recounts, “I did it because I was angry at certain bulls— reviewers who will remain anonymous (coughs) – The Hollywood Reporter – (laughs) who said it wasn’t realistic. The bad reviews took exception with the fact that these middle-aged guys are riding around on their bikes dating 20-year-old girls in Venice. I said, ‘Hey man, you don’t know my experience. This actually happened. The people based on these characters still live like that.’ We weren’t condoning that kind of behaviour; we were just saying it happens (with lost people). We always knew we were going to see the flip side of their journey in season two. We see Chip really bottom out and then, he really starts to rebuild his life for the first time authentically. So I felt like, “OK, I’m going to be completely honest with the press and share my experience.” It was a little scary. I don’t necessarily enjoy talking about my life in a personal way. I’d much rather do so subtly through my characters.”

The 47-year-old also took issue with some who said the show wasn’t funny enough.

“We didn’t want it to be a straight comedy or drama,” he defends. “Some of the comedy is dry, yes. Our characters tell bad jokes to each other – and some viewers have said, ‘Why did you put that in? It’s not funny!’ But we wanted to show that people also tell bad jokes in real life. I don’t find it authentic when everyone is funny on TV and film. In real life, some of us tell bad jokes to relate to each other.”

Luckily, Arnett is back on a project everyone loves unconditionally. Arrested Development was green lit for a fifth season which will also stream on Netflix. But there is still some question if Flaked will be renewed for another season.

“If they want us to tell more about these characters, we definitely have more for a third season,” pitches Arnett. “It’s like an indie film told over multiple episodes. We’re making a show we want to watch – it’s not for everyone.”