It takes two tries, but Lucas Neff nails a fly buzzing around the catering tent on a location shoot for the Tuesday Fox comedy "Raising Hope."
"Hey, watch this," he says, smacking the fly down on the table cover. "Crushed."
But victory has a price.
"Lost all the feeling in my hand."
But as Neff says about the fly, "This guy's lost all the feeling in his everything."
The setting is an upscale development languishing in triple-digit heat in the San Fernando Valley. Under the tent where director/creator Greg Garcia sits, Neff pops in frequently to play with Bayley and Rylie Crecut, the twins playing the baby daughter of Neff's single father character, Jimmy Chance.
On this day, a water pistol shooting rapid-fire bubbles was a big hit, but Neff has found other ways to amuse the twins.
"They like hitting me in the face," he says. "I was a human punching bag for a while. ... We have different games. There's no rules. I like to play Calvinball with the babies. It's a great game. Google it."
To save you the trouble, it's a game that evolved out of one of Neff's favorite things, the comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes."
" 'Raising Hope,' to me, feels like the same sort of universe as 'Calvin & Hobbes' in a way," he says. "There's sweetness but also a sort of recklessness to it."
Jimmy's parents (Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt) had him as teenagers, and now young Jimmy is left raising his daughter alone after the mother -- his one-night stand -- winds up on death row.
"That's one of the great things about Jimmy," says Neff. "At the end of the day, he doesn't back down. I think he got that from his parents, too. They were faced with plenty of challenges in their lives, him being one of the prime examples."
Favorite book: "I usually love what I'm currently reading. I love the one I'm with. Right now I'm reading two books, so I'm a bit of a bigamist. I'm promiscuous in my reading. I'm reading 'The Canterbury Tales' for the first time since high school, and that's really exciting. I'm reading 'All the King's Men' for the first time. And I'm just starting to get into Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet who's really cool."
Favorite music: "I really enjoy Arcade Fire. I love Interference, those (Irish) guys that worked with Glen Hansard. I love movie soundtracks, scores, to be honest. Then I'm also listening to Edward Elgar, 'The Enigma Variations.' I'm not a Top 40 guy. I'm about 30 years off of what's cool and not in a good way. I'm the guy who's always found the darkest part of whatever phase of human history we're going through."
Favorite movie: "I've got a bunch. The '60s and '70s have a lot of my favorites. Oh, I know what my favorite movie is. Here it is. I always forget it's my favorite -- that should tell you something -- 'Dr. Strangelove.' I'm a huge Peter Sellers fan. I like how dark it is, how funny it is. It's currently a time of great brinksmanship in our society
it's interesting to see a movie handle it so adroitly but also with such a great sense of humor."