Prior to the start of the new millennium, Todd Phillips had started to make a name for himself in Hollywood thanks to the documentaries he made exploring a number of American subcultures, which included a deep dive into fraternities and a look at the diehard Phish fans who essentially define the essence of the band.
However, he pivoted in a big way after writing and directing 2000’s Road Trip, which marked his first major foray into a genre he’d soon rule over (while sharing the throne with Judd Apatow) after ascending to a new level of notoriety when Old School took the world by storm in 2003.
That project arguably marked the start of Will Ferrell’s impressive run as one of the most bankable comedic actors on the planet and gave Phillips some of the leverage he’d eventually harness to turn The Hangover franchise into a similarly profitable force to be reckoned with.
While Old School is led by a star-studded cast, it’s also elevated by the minor characters played by a number of actors who take full advantage of their time on screen.
That includes Dan Finnerty, who is anything but a household name but is likely familiar to anyone who’s seen the cursed-filled rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that he performed as the wedding singer at Frank the Tank’s reception.
That scene launched Finnerty and the rest of what is known as “The Dan Band” into a new echelon of fame, and during a recent interview with GQ, he reflected on how he landed that scene-stealing role and discussed the opportunities that have presented themselves as a result over the past couple of decades.
While he’s undoubtedly been put in a bit of a box, it doesn’t seem like he’s burdened by his art too much when you consider he’s still reaping the benefits of the breakout performance 20 years later by doing things like appearing in a music video with Drake.
During the conversation, he shed some light on how that particular gig came to fruition while describing the pretty hilarious journey he embarked on after one of the biggest musicians on the planet slid into his DMs on Instagram:
Finnerty received an Instagram notification that he didn’t recognize: “Champagnepapi started following you.” After a quick Google search told him the blue check-marked handle with its 130 million followers belonged to Drake, he sent a screenshot to his 25-year-old daughter. “Check your DMs,” she insisted loudly over the phone, where Finnerty found a brief message from the hip-hop artist.
“Hey, I’m doing a video with a wedding. Is there any way you’d recreate your scene in Old School,” Drake wrote, signing off with a fingers-crossed emoji.
Finnerty replied in a manner typical of his white, jocular, 52-year-old identity: “Sounds good, Drake”…
The comedy singer sent Drake a voice note with a melodramatic version of his 2009 hit “Best I Ever Had.” The next day, Finnerty, bleary-eyed following a red-eye from San Diego, stood in a hotel ballroom, belting out slow, falsetto interpretations of “You’re the f—king best” in front of numerous IG honey brides, as Drake nodded in approval at the head table.
“I was just laughing the whole time,” Finnerty remembers. “Like, What the f—k?”
What a world.