Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jay Mohr Talks Bad Brains, C. Walken and Tom Cruise (Q&A)

...I just got around to combing through tapes of interviews I've had over the years and decided to transcribe the interesting sessions that never got used for whatever reason-- I've found that there's been a lot of funny and at times insightful stuff going on that has just never been used for whatever rea
son (mostly the outlets wanted articles on the bigger names on a production)...but that doesn't necessarily mean that the lesser known artists didn't have some shit to say, sometimes breaking the third wall and giving a little more to a film I'd just seen by revealing shite that one can't catch by simply sitting in a theater and checking it in point, I did a roundtable with actor comedian Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire, Go) back when The Groomsmen was coming out a year-and change back and he was a barrel of laughs ( click here to read the interview with Edward Burns, the film's director and star)...I was sitting right next to Jay for this and shit just jumped off when he spotted the fluorescent yellow Bad Brains T-Shirt I was wearing...not only does he share a little nugget about one of my favorite bands, dude speaks on Christopher Walken, Tom Cruise, Buddy Hackett, the real deal in Hollywood, choosing a porn star name...and Alonzo Mourning...check it out...

CP: What up, son?

Jay Mohr: Hello, sir...

Q: How did you manage to find the broad comedy in this character but still keep him a real guy?

JM: He is a real guy, he's based on the guys I grew up with so, he's 33 1/3% me, 33 1/3% James Barone (an old friend, who you don't know) and 33 1/3% Colin Quinn. So, when it came time to have a heart to heart [conversation in a scene] it was me, when he swore the most it was James and the rest of the time it was Colin Quinn.

Q: Did Colin know you were doing that?

JM: Who Colin? (deadpans) No, I can't give him any credit whatsoever [laughs]

Q: So who's your "Jen"? (the woman his character is hopelessly in love with in the film)

JM: Huh? Oh, yeah-- I was like "Jessica Capshaw?" real life?

Q: Yeah, do you have a "Jen"?

JM: No, I mean, I'm engaged. I've been married, that didn't work out. I'm going back in mean like in the night life?

Q: Yeah.

JM: No, brah...I can't say anything about that politely.

Q: But you've had some?

JM: Some "Jens"? (starts laughing) No, no, I actually haven't had anything like that ever happen before (still laughing)...he knows I'm not trying to say-- A fuckin' Bad Brains shirt? My man! Crack-a-lackin'! (starts singing the chorus to "Soul Craft")...this guy's the hippest guy in the room. (to a British journalist) You thought it was a joke-- that's a great DC hardcore band. You know, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction once said "we're a cross between Duke Ellington and Bad Brains."...One more thing on Bad Brains, when I did my first TV appearance on The Half Hour Comedy Hour, I was wearing that T-Shirt in white.

Q: The guy that you're playing in The Groomsmen is a little soft around the edges-- is that why you took the role, to go against type? I mean a grip of the other characters you've played were harder than coffin nails compared to him.

JM: I took it because it was an Ed Burns movie and I wanted to work in New York. And then when I read this script I thought it was good. I read it again and it was a little better than the first time and then I read it a third time and I thought 'this is kinda like Diner'-- this could be really good if we could just talk and don't get all "act-y". But no, I didn't take the part because [the character] was all soft or anything-- actors that tell you things like that are usually making 20 million dollars a film and they can choose discriminately (in officious voice): "I decided to play this guy because I've always wanted to do a Western"-- I want a fucking job.

Q: So what do you think about the film making scene now?

JM: Well, there's certainly a brand new middle class-- it's either 20 million a film or scale. But I'm happy to be in that middle class. I think you'll see a lot of people going into television, as you already have.

Q: Would you go back to TV?

JM: I'd go back, yeah. I don't care, I got a kid, man-- I'll sell tampons. I mean, there's no selling-out once you get a kid. I got a kid.

Q: Where were you in your relationship when you shot this film?

JM: I was in Vietnam, man...I was divorced for like a day and I was two months into my next marriage. And I needed this movie to sort of decompress. It was nice to do this movie and not have to worry about what lawyers were doing or anything-- I told everyone to leave me alone for a month -- and at the end of a day, I'd just come home to the woman I loved. That's it...we have a very wonderfully dull life which I never had before. For the fist time in my life I was able to be still and realized that it's okay to just sit in a room and read separate books next to each other.

Q: So when you play sports are you anything like the guy in the film?

JM: I'm an animal. I'm the guy you hate. I'm the guy that yells at you for not hitting the cutoff man...stop throwing the ball around. Every softball game four runs are scored because some douche bag chose to strike someone out from the left field wall-- it's like "hit the fucking cutoff man and let's go home."

Q: So, you doing any more stand-up or anything like that?

JM: I do, every Tuesday I go down to the Irvine Improv in Orange County, me and my friend go down there and mess around...they give me the door and I go on the radio and mention the club and whatever...I just got back from Pearl Harbor, entertaining the troops for the Fourth of July-- it was wonderful. I could never be in the Navy. I'm kind of a sloppy eater and they wear all that white. It'd be like "seaman Mohr, did you eat spaghetti today?""Did you stab a man to death?"

Q: You ever take a little of your Walken onstage with you?

JM: (impersonating Christopher Walken) Of course. It's the natural do. I'm famous now. No I have to wait...for Prophecy Five.

Q: I've sat down with him before and he talks about you, kinda--

JM: -- yeah, he says "that boy" he doesn't know my fuckin' name. (laughs) ...Yeah, he says "he does me better than I do me." ...he's a strange bird, man. I came up to him on a set once and he had a cup of noodles. And I'm like "what're you eating, Cup-o-Noodles?" and he goes "No, these are scallops." Fuckin' I watched him open them. It says Cup-o-Noodles on the side, on the top...fuckin' Cup-o-Noodles! [picks up a soda can off the table and points] Like: is this is Coke?! (whispers) or a delicious Diet Pepsi [which he was doing commercials for at the time].

Q: So what's next?

JM: Nothing. I'm completely available. I took a year off to raise my son and now I know how to live and work at the same time-- and I needed to. I owed it to him and myself, to take a step back and just be home every day.

Q: Your character in the film plays the drums, you ever play an instrument before?

JM: That's hard, man. It's the only instrument you can't hide behind-- you make a mistake on the drums and the neighbors know it. On the guitar or bass, you can just turn your back and go ha-ha- I'm playing rhythm. And what's with using your feet all the time? It's the fucking drums! I mean, your feet are going around like this and everything-- it's hard!

Q: So you've never played an instrument before, then?

JM: No. You know, on your couch or something but you can't just practice drums in your garage, people will laugh at you. My whole life, with air drums, the snare was always the right hand, I'm a rightie-- WRONG! I was like "but I don't want to do it with my left hand" and the instructor was like "well that's how you do it." (starts playing air drums) I can't even do it right now! And Donal [Logue] got to learn the bass. The jerk! (laughs) You know why bassists are always jumping around on the stage? Because it's easy. You don't see The Edge dancing around because it's fucking hard, what he's doing. He's got to stand still and hit his pedals. I saw Pearl Jam last night, Jeff Ahment should've been in a circus, he's jumping around so much.

Q: It looks like you had a couple of good moments on screen with the guy who played your father, especially in the heavy bag scene.

JM: I hear thunder! We had that scene done in a few takes [initially] and Johnny O just kept hitting that bag, but he's killing it-- he's like George Travallo in there. I was like oh my God but he's like this old cop who used to beat guys down, he was a crooked cop, for crying out loud, he's a dirty animal. (laughs) I was like [to Burns] "you've gotta film this" and Eddie says (in Burns' Brooklynese whisper): "I'm way ahead of ya." -- he had the steadycam floating around. He was like DeNiro in Raging Bull, hitting the bricks in the jail cell-- I was like "woah, easy Johnny"...he goes (in psycho voice) "whattaya got?" and I go "I hear thunder!" and then its in the movie and I'm like "that made it in? How about the nine jokes you cut?" (still laughing)

Q: So what else have you been up to off camera, with your son, for fun if you like.

JM: Well, my son's 3 1/2, you know the best laid plans are of mice and men. You make great plans, you know, we're going to go to Disneyland, we're going to go do this ride, do the haunted mansion, then we're going to go on the Twilight Zone and then we're going to go on the Tower of Terror, we're going to do this and we're going to do that and then you wind up standing behind a garbage can scaring people for two hours. Literally, we were like "Rooooowrrrrrr!!!!" And people are like "ah, that's cute kid." I'm crazy about the beach-- he loves the beach. I'm trying to teach him how to swim, you know. I take him to the YMCA and I go to like a ghetto-y YMCA to do it, it's kind of funny. There's like Mexican guys with like facial tattoos and they're like (in an East Los cholo gangster accent) "Hey, you're that actor-guy." And I'm like "Hi" and they're like "what the fuck are you doing here, bro? That's fucked up! Look, get a picture with me" and I'm like, "let's get out of the shower first." (laughs)

Q: I read a while ago that you were friends with Tom Cruise, is there any truth in that?

JM: We're not friend-friends or anything, I'm sure that if we were out and we saw each other we'd be friendly. The guy was wonderful to me-- a joy to be around (on the set of Jerry Maguire). He just helped me, pulled me under his wing and gave me great advice, super-personable, knew everybody's name on the set, remembered stories that they'd told him two months before, such a pro. An underrated actor...My chair was too small [in the scene where] I was firing him, we were rehearsing and I was like "I need a higher chair, I need that angle" and he was like, "can we get another chair? [to director Cameron Crowe] Cameron, he needs another chair! He needs to be higher" and I was like "wooooah! wayyy too much drama, I'm the new guy." And he said "if you need it [to play your scene better], don't underestimate it, its important."....I was folding my clothes (after shooting a scene) and the wardrobe lady came up to me and I was like "I don't work in wardrobe" and she goes "you really shouldn't fold your clothes, these girls bust their asses to keep them ironed" and I was like "yeah, you're right."

Q: So do you have a favorite Buddy Hackett story?

JM: I said to him "why don't you write a book?" And he goes (impersonating Hackett's voice) Well, you know, Sherri (Buddy's wife) would get upset reading about all the broads. "Why don't you just leave out all the women, then?" (Hackett's voice again) Are you fucking crazy, you gotta write about the broads...whenever I'm down, I always remind myself of the Siamese twin whose brother is gay and his boyfriend is coming over and they share the same asshole. And then I don't feel so bad...I got a lot of Hackett stories, when I walked in the door, you should've just said "gimme Hackett stories."

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

JM: What's in my CD changer in my car right now?

Q: Yeah.

JM: Ghostface Killah's Fishscale-- fuckin' Ghostface is crazy...Outkast...Tool...Al Green: Best of...

Q: No Motels? [like the character in the film]

JM: No, it was a bad era, bro. The 80s were no good. The 90s were good, the 70s were my iPod, when I go to the gym I crank the Black Crows, Jane's Addiction, you know, that old Pete Rock and CL Smooth...KRS - ONE.

Q: So what're you doing for the holidays?

JM: I'd really like to get back to work. I haven't worked in a year. I got a divorce, I wrote a check with two commas and said "it doesn't matter." I want to get back to work, I'll make it all back, gotta get back to work. I did nothing...until next Friday.

Q: What happens next Friday?

JM: Um, amateur porn. (laughs) I'm going to do a little thing called "The Casting Couch" know, we're always looking for new talent.

Q: And your porn name's going to be...?

JM: Well, you know, you take your middle name and the street you grew up on, so I'd be "Ferguson Valley." I don't know why those people don't use their real names. Like, if I was that fucking degenerate and did that much crystal meth and smoked that much weed and drank that much vodka and Red Bull and I did porn-- I'd use my name. What would your name be? Middle name and street you grew up on.

Q: Alonzo Rittenhouse...

JM: Alonzo House, there you go. Your middle name's Alonzo?

Q: Yep, with a Z.

JM: What's your first name?

Q: Chris

JM: Do you know Alonzo Bodden, the comic? He's a big dude, man... I know two black guys now, with the name Alonzo-- three, Alonzo Mourning. I could kick his ass, way to leave the (New Jersey) Nets, you fuckin' pansies!..."it's hard...the coach is mean"...Ah, go fuck yourself, asshole!!!

.'s Mohr in a clip from the film..."the pissing pants story"....

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