Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chris O'Dowd on that celebrity "Imagine" video: "I presumed it was for kids"

Illustration for article titled Chris ODowd on that celebrity Imagine video: I presumed it was for kids
Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images)

The tone-deaf, much-parodied celebrity cover of “Imagine” that came out a few months ago made lots of beloved actors and musicians look like blinkered morons, including a few people we all probably hoped would’ve thought better of the idea before agreeing to do it. One of them is Chris O’Dowd, an affable actor and comedian who’s now said he signed on to do the video because Kristen Wiig asked him to and he “presumed it was for kids.”

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O’Dowd appeared on documentarian Louis Theroux’s quarantine project, a podcast interview series called Grounded, in order to talk to his friend about the “Imagine” video. After Theroux brings it up with his typical understatement (“There were people who didn’t like it!”), O’Dowd describes agreeing to the concept because “I’ll do anything Kristen [Wiig] asks me to do,” that “it took five minutes,” and he “didn’t think about it.”

“I presumed it was for kids or ... I know that Gal [Gadot] works for UNICEF, so I presumed it was a charity thing,” he continues.

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“Which would have been even more cruel, by the way,” Theroux says. “To make children listen to it.”

O’Dowd says the idea came about during “that first wave of creative diarrhea” during the pandemic and that the video “was just a bunch of people running around thinking that they had to do something when we really didn’t.” He also says that “any backlash was fairly justified” and describes how “bizarre” it was to be “part of that maelstrom” when the video started to be mocked online.

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Listen to the rest of the episode to hear more on the “Imagine” clip and O’Dowd and Theroux discussing celebrity, their upbringings, and parenting during quarantine.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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