Profile: Revenge for Jolly! director Chadd Harbold

  • Photos by Charlotte Jardat-Katz
From the April 19, 2012 edition

To think that just a few years ago, Columbus’ major claims to homegrown fame were limited mostly to “National Lampoon’s Vacation” mom Beverly D’Angelo and rapper/“Lottery Ticket” star Shad “Bow Wow” Moss.

The list has grown recently to include singer Josh Krajcik, “Lost” ensemble player Maggie Grace and Josh Radnor, who jumped from small-screen success with “How I Met Your Mother” to a splashy big-screen debut at the Sundance Film Fest for his first directing effort, “Happythankyoumoreplease.”

Upper Arlington native and NYU film school alum Chadd Harbold is aiming for a Radnor-like trajectory. After working on a number of shorts and a couple of segments for HBO’s “Funny or Die Presents,” the filmmaker is launching his theatrical career this Saturday with the world premiere of “Revenge for Jolly!” at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In a phone interview, Harbold described his first feature as, “a very dark, very violent comedy — and I even use that word lightly. We weren’t making it thinking of it as a comedy. [We felt] the more seriously we took everything, the funnier it would be.”

Referencing diverse inspirations such as “Fargo” and “Unforgiven,” Harbold said “Jolly!” is “about two stupid criminals in a decaying, seedy suburb who owe some money to some more dangerous criminals. In retaliation for their debt, an enforcer comes to their house and murders their beloved dog, Jolly, so they go on a revenge spree.”

With help from Harbold’s “Funny or Die” collaborator Brian Petsos, who’s also the writer and star of “Jolly!,” the director assembled an impressive cast that includes Kristen Wiig, Elijah Wood, Ryan Phillippe, Adam Brody and Oscar Isaac (“Drive”).

According to Harbold, “Brian has been around for a while and has a lot of great connections. Most of the big actors in it are friends or fans of his, and they were happy to come play with us for a few days.”

For any local filmmakers hoping to have a similar play date someday, Harbold advised, “Just make films. There’s no excuse not to. There are films being released commercially that are shot on consumer-grade cameras. You’re not a filmmaker unless it’s what you’re trying to do all the time.”