There’s something wrong with Jason Sudeikis’s uterus. This is according to the colorful, zone-numbered qi map of the human foot furnished us by the Fishion Herb Center in Chinatown, where we’re having our feet massaged by professionals. (Real professionals, not “professionals,” you filthy-minds: This isn’t a sex comedy starring Jason Sudeikis, this is his life, and he’d appreciate it if you made the distinction. The clinic certainly has, with a sign that reads, in huge red type, LEGITIMATE MASSAGE ONLY.)
Zone No. 23 appears to be giving Sudeikis pain. “Number 23!” he air-punches. “The Jordan nerve!” Then we learn that “No. 23” means Sudeikis is having female trouble. He disputes the ruling. He argues it down to a prostate problem. The reflexologist seems satisfied, possibly because he doesn’t speak pristine English and our Mandarin is limited to “beef with broccoli.” (Which is, I believe, No. 26.)
Sudeikis chose this basement tarsal torture chamber on Mott Street for our interview because he’s been pretty stressed out. “I realized in the past year, my feet are tense. I’m just … aware of my feet.” Fair enough: He’s put a lot of miles on them lately, having just walked twenty blocks from his West Village apartment to get here, following late-night karaoke at a friend’s birthday party. Before that, he was busy wrapping up a season of SNL, making cameos on cult-comedy stations of the cross like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Delocated, hosting the MTV Movie Awards, running the press gauntlet for his dudely new comedy Horrible Bosses, and fielding impertinent questions about ex-girlfriend January Jones’s miracle baby. (Us Weekly recently cleared him of paternity and turned its Sauron-like eye back to co-defendants Bobby Flay and Matthew Vaughn.) That hasn’t left much time to relax. “So I’ve got to overlap business with pleasure,” he says, just as the specialists begin to go the full Gitmo on our toes. Sudeikis grimace-grins. “Or—yow!—whatever this is.” He looks at my feet approvingly. “Your toes are very even,” he says, sounding like he means it.
Jason Sudeikis is ridiculously charming. When he compliments the evenness of your toes, you want very much to believe him. He’s a seasoned improvisational comedian and, as such, is trained to uphold a warped or enhanced reality as if it were absolutely normal. The enhanced reality he’s upholding right now is the life of Jason Sudeikis: Chicago improv foot soldier turned SNL writer turned SNL cast member turned movie-star-on-the-brink and “thinking woman’s sex symbol.” “Who said that?” Sudeikis asks, and I tell him it was this very magazine’s culture blog, Vulture. He blushes credibly. “That’s very nice! I hope that’s not an insult to thinking women. That’s my first concern. That a bunch of semiotics majors at Brown are reading that and going, What are they talking about? That guy’s an idiot!”
He certainly plays idiots. He’s not bad with assholes, either. He’s one half of SNL’s “Two A-holes” duo, with co-hole Kristen Wiig. He was Owen Wilson’s bird-dogging best friend in the wildly mismarketed Hall Pass, an utterly normative family comedy about infidelity and explosive diarrhea, wrongheadedly packaged as a taboo-busting sex romp. (Sudeikis stole the show with a scene in which his character masturbates in a minivan to Styx’s “The Best of Times,” a habit he substitutes for sex with his wife.) In Horrible Bosses, he’s a skirt-chaser who persuades his less aggressive pals (Jason Bateman and Charlie Day) to go through with a plan to murder their sadistic employers. Sudeikis says he chooses his career path by listening to his gut (No. 17). So what’s his gut telling him about all these hump-happy broheems?
“It’s not my gut, it’s what casting directors are telling me,” he explains, as the last of his toe bones is clicked, audibly, into place. “I—yah!—I think it’s less the sex-crazed-guy thing and more the guy who’s convincing people to do something. In Hall Pass, I played a sex-crazed guy who talks his friend into committing sanctioned adultery. And Horrible Bosses is a movie where I play a guy with ladies on the brain trying to convince his friends to kill their bosses. I’m just going through the commandments, one by one, violating them. In my next movie, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy [out September 2], I teach my buddy to covet his neighbor’s wife. But there, it’s less about the sex thing and more a comment on what’s the most intimate take-back-your-lost-youth ploy imaginable.” The pain in our feet has made irony impossible, and I accept this answer without question. Sudeikis adds: “And my character in Horrible Bosses isn’t so much sex-crazed as just, y’know, single. People just sort of throw themselves at him. He’s a very fortunate guy that way.”
Sounds a bit familiar. After an amicable divorce from 30 Rock writer-producer Kay Cannon in 2010, he began dating Jones, the crystalline Mad Men goddess who contrasted piquantly with his regular-guyness and relatively low profile. The tabloids immediately went nuts, especially after the couple split and Jones became visibly enceinte. Bloggers Talmudically scrutinized a line he delivered while hosting this year’s MTV Movie Awards: “I have a lot of pressure on me, okay? I have ten minutes left in the show, I might be a dad soon …”
Sudeikis thought the joke was obviously a joke, a strategic deflation of the speculation about Jones’s baby, but the gossip-sphere interpreted it as breaking news. Sudeikis displays only muted horrror at the social-media locust swarm. “I mean, wow: It only takes a few minutes for a picture of your penis to change the world.” Trolls and tabloids have linked him with everyone from Scarlett Johansson to Eva Mendes—which could be considered a form of flattery. (He still gets mistaken for Ed Helms a lot, which goes a long way toward maintaining a sense of normality.)
Sudeikis makes no claims to grown-upness. He acknowledges that he’s come far since patrolling the Chicago comedy scene in a Chevy Montero borrowed from his famous uncle, George Wendt. But he feels that his Chi-town comedy cohorts—who include not only Cannon but also The Daily Show’s Dan Bakkedahl and 30 Rock’s Jon Lutz—have far outpaced him in life. “I’m 35,” he says, “and all of those guys are a lot more mature than me. They’re much more responsible. Leading grown-up lives. In a good way. Like, they’re always just smart, strong, and confident.” I ask Sudeikis if he doesn’t find himself smart, strong, and confident. “In moments,” he allows. “But never all three at the same time.”
There’s an audible crack—the sound of at least three zones getting chocked into alignment—and he emits an audible gasp. Maybe that’ll do it: smart, strong, confident, the trifecta. Otherwise, Jason Sudeikis will have to settle for famous, funny, and blog-certified fuckable. Either way, he’s going to be limping home.