Kyle Mooney is a very nostalgic person. Nobody knows this better than his childhood best friend and co-creator, Dave McCary.
“I think you’ll find that most everyone, even if they’re not seeking it out, everyone is nostalgic for the time they grew up,” McCary says. “Kyle takes it in his own life to a bit of an extreme, which is endearing, and I think people love that he’s so specific about that stuff.”
“I’m definitely in touch with that part of my life,” Mooney admits. “More so than maybe a grownup should be. That’s also indicative of contemporary culture. I mean how many people are labeling themselves as ‘90s kids or ‘80s kids?”
There’s certainly a huge market for said nostalgia in today’s pop culture. With sequels, remakes and spinoffs constantly churning out from some of our favorite childhood classics, consumers are loving the reminiscence of modern television and cinema.
Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary behind the scenes of Brigsby Bear.
This emotion resonates in Mooney’s latest film, Brigsby Bear. Directed by McCary and written by Mooney and Kevin Costello, the film is about James (Mooney), a young man who’s lived his entire life in an underground bunker after being abducted as a child. When he’s discovered and returned to his family, he must adjust to a world he knows nothing about. The only thing he does know is what he’s learned from Brigsby Bear, a show that’s been produced solely for him, yet nobody else has ever seen.
I recently met Mooney and McCary at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. A friendship spanning over two decades, they’re in sync as comrades and as creative partners.
“I actually believe you can’t do a project unless it’s with your best friend,” Mooney says. “I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I work with Dave on Saturday Night Live, and we made this movie together. I love it. For me, the nice thing is that these are people I trust as humans, and I also trust them creatively. When the cameras stop rolling, we can just hang out and it’s just chilling with your buddies. It feels like it harkens back to being a nine-year-old with your parents’ camcorder and having the neighborhood kids over and just trying to put something dumb together.”
This quality of innocence and creativity is present in Mooney’s James. As he acclimates to his new world, he finds friends who are almost as intrigued as he is by his favorite show. Together, they decide to make a movie that continues the Brigsby Bear story, something that comes across in the film as somewhat of a love letter to the art of filmmaking and creativity in general.
“I remember in reading the script, I responded to it,” McCary recalls. “I just knew this feeling, this experience very well because we lived it, and that somehow just seeped out of him, probably unconsciously. Writers do write what they know and Kyle understands the passion for creating and storytelling and doing it with his friends.”
Kyle Mooney and Mark Hamill star in Brigsby Bear.
Although the film is filled with lighthearted comedy, it treads unknown territory for the comedic actor. After four years of hilarious skits and impressions, he seamlessly slips into the vulnerable persona of this unique childlike character.
“When I first thought of the idea, it seemed like something maybe darker than what ultimately came out of it,” Mooney says. “But just in the process of writing it with Kevin, we just enjoyed having James interact with this world. The sweetness was just kind of natural. And I think we just moved toward that because it felt good.”
Although his four years on SNL has made him accustomed to working with various celebrities, Mooney’s nostalgia was piqued by the opportunity to work with Mark Hamill. The Star Wars actor plays one of James’ abductors and the man who raised him.
“I mean I’m a fan of Star Wars and a fan of his, so I was just excited to see him kind of do something weird and different,” he says. “It was also nice just being on set with him, and him playing a father figure to me was so crazy.”
Looking back on their childhood, Mooney and McCary recall a shared love of baseball cards and Saved by the Bell. They agree it would be the one show they’d want to watch if they were stuck in an underground bunker.
Brigsby Bear is now in theaters. Watch the trailer below: