His role in "The Watch" puzzles British star Richard Ayoade

Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:01pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British TV star Richard Ayoade is fast becoming a Hollywood name, but even as he makes his major US movie debut alongside A-list comic actors Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill in "The Watch," he is still coming to grips with his rising fame.

"The Watch," in theaters on Friday, follows four neighborhood vigilantes - Stiller, Vaughan, Hill and Ayoade - who try to keep their community safe from an alien invasion.

In recent weeks, Ayoade, 35, whose role in British TV comedy "The IT Crowd" made him a star overseas, has been thrust into the US media spotlight on eye-catching billboards with his three "Watch" counterparts. But the actor (whose name is pronounced eye-oh-ah-day) uses self-deprecating humor when discussing the huge promotional pictures of him and his co-stars, saying he must've been placed with them "for symmetry."

"I've never really been in a proper film, and I don't think they knew I hadn't been in a film before," Ayoade told Reuters.

"I think someone must have dropped out. Also, I'm always exceptionally cheap and (Stiller, Vaughan and Hill) are expensive, so they probably spent all their money," he joked.

While he may be a relative unknown in the US, Ayoade's distinctive afro hair, thick-framed glasses and clipped style of speech have been embraced by British audiences for his quirky comedic style in "IT Crowd," which enjoys a cult-like following.

"Cult is a polite word for unpopular, and niche is not something that attracts large investors," Ayoade said. "Hopefully after this, ('The Watch' cast) all learn to be a bit more niche. I think I can bring some commercial failure to their careers, which they're in need of."

RISE TO FAME   Continued...

Cast member Richard Ayoade poses at the premiere of "The Watch" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California July 23, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 27. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni