What about the documentary about religion you’ve shot with Larry Charles? People are already talking about it.
It’s funny that everybody wants to know about this and there isn’t even a movie made yet. [Larry’s] cutting it right now. The 10-minute reel that we showed at Cannes caused such a stir there, [the movie] immediately sold to 20 different countries. And Lionsgate bought it just on the strength of [the reel]. And I must say, we came back from [shooting it on] the road, and it was a long, grueling trip for me. I’m not used to going overseas, and getting up at the crack of dawn to do a movie , but it was worth it. Although when I got back to America in February, to go back to my day job, I kind of forgot about it. And we shot hundreds and hundreds of hours. I didn’t know what the heck to expect when, finally around May, Larry showed me this 10-minute reel. But it was hysterical.
How many countries did you visit?
It seems like we went everywhere there was religion: Jerusalem, Vatican City, Salt Lake City. We went everyplace from the Vatican to a truck-stop church in a trailer in South Carolina. We really covered the gamut.
Because Larry Charles filmed it, I picture you playing Borat — only you’re not playing anyone at all.Are people going to be offended?
Yeah. I mean, it’s hard not to, I know. But no, I was just my congenial, charming self. [Laughs]
I certainly hope so.
Variety also spoke to Maher last week — and Charles too — on the occasion of Lionsgate’s purchase of the distribution rights:
Even though religion is the flashpoint for wars, terrorism and much global tension, Charles said he and Maher were determined to find a way to make the subject funny. They filmed in Israel and other Middle East hot spots in shoots that made the guerilla-style production of “Borat” seem like a cakewalk.
“Being in a place like Israel, you can feel how violence exists just under the surface of mundane life,” Charles told Daily Variety. “The trick here is, the darker and more serious the subject, the more absurd and funny it is when you push and the humor reveals itself.”
Maher said: “Comedically, the topic of religion is hitting the side of a barn; it’s literally hard to miss. This movie will make you laugh so hard you’ll pray for it to stop.”