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YOUR HIGHNESS

About The Production
The concept for Your Highness came about when Danny McBride and David Gordon Green were shooting Green's second feature film, All the Real Girls, in 2001. While on the set, the longtime friends, who had met at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, would pitch each other crazy ideas for movies they imagined making one day.

Remembers Green: "Danny and I were working on All the Real Girls in North Carolina. I kept thinking how funny it would be to make a vehicle for him. He started rattling off some ideas, and his brain started going some pretty fun places. We tag teamed this idea of Danny in medieval times fighting dragons. We actually came up with the title that night, and then years later, Danny and Ben Best fleshed out an idea of what the story would be. It was always an obvious choice to put Danny in the movies, just because he is such a funny, charismatic, likeable guy who can say the most vile things and you still just laugh and think, ‘How sweet…'”

For the filmmaker, the epic comedy-adventure was a long time coming. He laughs: "Your Highness represents the 11-year-old me, who used to stay up late, sneaking in to watch dirty movies on cable. A lot of the movies that I was drawn to at that time were some pretty trashy sword and sorcery movies—movies that had a lot of boobies and violence.”

McBride agrees that there was a great deal of source material from his youth that served as their inspiration. He and Best wanted to tell this story from the perspective of the one guy who usually got the short shrift in epic quests, the one who was the least likely to be the hero. He explains: "This film was born from the movies we grew up on that we loved a lot: everything from Conan the Barbarian to Deathstalker, Krull, Dragonslayer, all these fantasy-action movies from the era. We wanted to do our own take on one of those films, but at the same time, not make a spoof.”

McBride elaborates upon their story's protagonist: "Thadeous is motivated by banishment from the kingdom. He's used to a very luxurious lifestyle where everything is thrown at him, but his father is at his wit's end with him. So when tragedy strikes the kingdom and Fabious has to go make things right, the king forces Thadeous to go along on the journey, thinking that a good adventure will finally make Thadeous a proper prince.”

Almost a decade after they first met, both men had established themselves in a number of films. Indeed, the idea they had joked about so long ago began to take shape when McBride came to the attention of producer Scott Stuber and his team following his performance in the indie film The Foot Fist Way, which he wrote with Best and fellow university pal Jody Hill. And when Green's critically acclaimed and commercially successful Pineapple Express helped to make McBride a household name, the two old friends' long-gestating project received just the boost it needed.

One of the reasons Stuber was interested in developing the project was that McBride and Green had been honing their comedy together for more than a decade. "It was obvious that this story was hilarious and different than most comedies, which when blending genres, do so as a spoof,” says Stuber. "We knew right away that Danny's talent went beyond being a comedic actor, and that he had great potential as a writer and overall filmmaker. He pitched us the concept of Your Highness, an action-adventure comedy, and out of that he wrote it and turned it into this wild movie.”

The producer liked that McBride and Best's story paid homage to the fantastical epics of the '80s, while tipping its hat to a number of Monty Python films. What most surprised Stuber was that in the midst of all the bawdiness and ribaldry, there was a touching throughline to the story. "I loved the fact that at the end of the day, Thadeous just wants to earn the respect of his father and brother. He's been floundering for a long time, and now he finally has his shot to prove who he is capable of becoming by going on an epic quest. While he protests that it's absolutely the last thing in the world he wants, you see this glimmer of hope in him. Very few directors are capable of so seamlessly blending these elements, but we knew David would do it.”

Stuber, McBride and Green wanted Your Highness to be in the style of the most awe-inspiring fantasy-adventures and discussed how best to create a sword-and-sorcery epic with royal princes, cruel villains and damsels in distress. The surreal mythical world was to be populated with weird and wonderful creatures…and even a couple of musical numbers for good measure.

Beyond that, McBride and Green would bring a clever twist to add to the genre, which was to introduce comedy by making the central character one who would not traditionally be featured in a serious action-adventure. They also liked making a number of concepts intentionally anachronistic in the film. From today's foul language to timeless wizard's weed, it was all part of Your Highness' charm.

Thadeous, a cowardly, egomaniacal prince, is the ultimate antihero for fans of Rrated comedy, a character with contemporary undertones who exists within this fantastical world. Thadeous is most unprincely in his behavior and he initially doesn't care about anything apart from himself, not even the fate of the kingdom. He is lazy and likes to get drunk, smoke weed with the local dwarves and bed as many women as possible, all of which he feels entitled to in his position of royalty.

He has no desire to behave like the heir to the throne, his heroic and noble older brother, Fabious. But when Thadeous' privileged position is threatened by their father, who is exasperated with his laziness, he has no choice but to go with Fabious and the Elite Knights on their quest to save Belladonna, or he loses his princely privileges once and for all.

Explains Green of his decision to make a film that was inspired by the great fantasy-adventures, but not derivative of them: "From the director's point of view, I made a fun, adventure movie that you can laugh at consistently through the movie. We've never approached this as a typical comedy in terms of putting in jokes or setup and payoff or a lot of the typical comedic structure. We wanted to put together a movie that had great creatures and awesome action, adventure and romance and then weave fun, comedic opportunities out of that.”

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