Fred Armisen was born in Mississippi, grew up on Long Island, lives in Los Angeles and created a hit sketch show about Portland, yet the 55-year-old comedian says there’s nowhere he’d rather while away his days than the English countryside. “Any small town where a street curves a little bit, and it’s all cobblestone, and there’s a little white shop,” he says wistfully, speaking over video call from a hotel room in Manchester. “There’s a Boots nearby, and a coffee shop. You can hear the sound of cars and people talking. It’s a little chilly. I’ve got my jacket on. That’s the perfect spot. That’s where I want to be.”
By luck or design, Armisen has lately found plenty of reasons to keep himself sequestered in his British happy place. He’s just spent the week in Wales filming for the fourth season of Documentary Now!, the mockumentary series he co-created in 2015 with fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader and Seth Meyers. It’s previously been announced that the new run will include a parody of 1996 boxing documentary When We Were Kings called How They Threw Rocks, about a fictional Welsh sport, but Armisen is keeping tight-lipped about how production is going so far. “It’s so chaotic and things change so much,” he demurs. “I want to wait until we’re done.”
What he can talk about is The Bubble, Judd Apatow’s new pandemic-set Netflix comedy about the travails of a group of high-profile actors forced to quarantine together as they film Cliff Beasts 6, the latest instalment in a big-budget Hollywood franchise packed with CGI flying dinosaurs. Loosely inspired by the havoc Covid restrictions reportedly played with production of the forthcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, the film’s ensemble cast includes Karen Gillan, David Duchovny, Leslie Mann and Pedro Pascal. It was shot between February and April last year at Shepperton Studios in Surrey and at Cliveden House, a stately home on the border of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire so grand that The Beatles used it to double for Buckingham Palace in Help!.