I spoke with ORLANDO JONES about his guest starring role in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS on USA Network. Orlando plays Laz, TK’s life coach and I am certain that these will be the best episodes of the season. I have always enjoyed Orlando’s work and “Evolution” is one of my favorite movies. If you have not seen it please do yourself a favor and check it out immediately. Don’t miss Orlando in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS beginning tonight on USA Network. I know I will be tuning in.
Lena Lamoray: From the previews, it looks like Laz is not a welcome addition to the TK support team. Can you tell us about the conflicts that ensue?
Orlando Jones: Definitely not particularly a welcome addition but I think primarily because he’s a bit of a – you know, he’s unknown. And I think there’s always a question when somebody says they’re a life coach, well, you know, where did you study? And where do your credentials come from? So a lot of the, you know, conflicts that ensue have to do with the fact that he is a complete and total, you know, unknown. So I would say he’s a lot more like the guy who shows up the door that you’ve never heard of before who now all of a sudden is chummy with the boss and having a (lethal) impact on the outcome of your life but you don’t like know where this person comes from. So without giving anything away, that’s the first part of the conflict and it certainly begins to evolve from there.
Lena Lamoray: Now you’ve played so many incredible characters and Harry from “Evolution” was my favorite.
Orlando Jones: Harry Block.
Lena Lamoray: How would you compare Harry to Laz?
Orlando Jones: Wow. Hysterical. I did not see that one coming. Well done. Harry is a – you know, Harry is a volleyball coach who teaches part-time geology. That’s really to me what he was. So I think, you know, he kind of – you know, he was hanging out in the college campus. He’s really having a good time. He kind of has the zest for life and then, you know, a meteor hit and his life changed. So for me with him he was always sort of catching himself throughout everything what was going on in life. We couldn’t quite believe that it’s happening. So he was always vacillating between trying to be, you know, the serious scientist while at the same time going, “Can you believe that we got refrigeration? It’s awesome.” So I think Laz is definitely a lot more in control of what’s going on. You know, Laz is definitely like he knows what’s going on. He knows what – he has an objective in mind. He had set moods that he plans on making that has financial rewards (at the end). So I think that he is not pitching himself to be in a situation with professional athletes. He has a lot more ego. I think he feels like, you know, they should be pitching themselves because they got someone of his caliber to work with them. They’re very different just sort of general approaches to every day.
More Conference Call Highlights:
Q: What type of research did you do for Laz?
Orlando Jones: I actually dated a girl many moons ago whose best friend was a life coach and I actually called her just because at the time that I was dating her, she was just the girl I was going out with crazy friend and all of a sudden I was interested which I think threw her for a loop. And I just kind of wanted to understand what the training background was for being a life coach, you know, with like a weekend seminar type thing and what it was. And also (to know) what kind of credentials they had and what most of her clients had been. So that was sort of my first call. And my second call was to a couple of my buddies who were professional athletes. I just wanted to see what their therapy life was like for a lot of the problems they go through, you know, adjustment to family or, you know, things going on with the team and so on and so forth. So that kind of was the – that was the gist to the research but I got wildly different answers from the professional side than I did from the side where, you know, girl in California who professes to be a life coach.
Q: Can you talk about working opposite Mehcad Brooks and what that was like?
Orlando Jones: Mehcad is awesome. I think we are convinced that we were separated at birth. Obviously, he got more of the hormones than I did. So he’s a little bigger than me which is usually unusual because, you know, actors are often like, you know, midgets. So it was kind of funny that the onset was, you know, I’m 6’1″ and I think he is like 6′ 2″ or 6′ 3″. So Mehcad Brooks is I think wildly talented and a really fantastic actor but most importantly to me, I just think his ethic about working and sort of wanting to do everything he can to have all the elements there when you’re doing the scene are really incredible. I love the guy. I really look forward to working with him again.
Q: Since you grew up around professional sports, what was your first impression of the character? Did he remind you of anybody you knew?
Orlando Jones: Yes. I mean, he did. You know, it actually feels like, you know, a lot of times assistant coaches, you know, fulfill that role because they’re the ones often that meet the family and sort of know the dynamic of the player before the player comes in to the system. So it’s interesting, you know, how much of that and how much, you know, the guys who do what Laz does (appear) and what their perspective is. You know, because they all have this sort of very plenty perspective which is, you know, “I’m going to go out there and hustle and I’m going to make you some money. And I’m going to make you do the right advice,” and so on and so forth. But, you know, it’s really like, “You know, as long as you can put money in my pocket, I’m willing to help you. And if you can’t, I’m not.” But they don’t see it like they’re being sort of, you know, bloodsuckers. They really see it more like somebody who’s going to fulfill this role no matter what and they are sort of doing you a service by virtue of the fact that they put a lot of money in your pocket in the process. So, you know, it’s interesting to me that professional sports has this on – (in its face), but it’s rarely talked about. So it was kind of exciting to me that somebody was delving into that area and talking about sort of, you know, what happens sort of, you know, off the field as work. So I think, you know, that’s most of it.
Q: Your impression of Laz, is he more like a wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings, like he’s a puppet master or if he’s more like a celebrity whisperer, somebody who kind of manipulates them a little bit?
Orlando Jones: Honestly, I would say maybe a mixture of both. I don’t think that he’s much of a puppet because I think that, you know, Mehcad’s character, you know, he’s already, you know, “behaving badly.” He’s already, you know, the $100 million superstar of the team and, you know, he’s also – you know, that amount of money often goes to, you know, a kid who’s, you know, less than 23, 24 years old. So, you know, you’re going to expect them to behave the way they behave. So I don’t know that he’s doing that as much as he is indulging the behavior but he’s taking a different approach. I think the best example I can give is I look at the character like this, obviously, drug use is prevalent both, you know, in professional sports and not in professional sports. I once have heard somebody say to a kid who is – who had problems smoking weed, “Listen, if you’re going to do it, do it at home. Don’t go out in the street (village).” And I turned around and was like, “Whose parents are these? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” But the attitude was I’d rather you do it in a controlled environment wherein I can help you if something happens or you won’t get arrested by the police than you go do it out, you know, in the open where anybody can see you. And I think that’s Laz’s attitude. If you’re going to behave badly, I want to show you how to behave badly in such a way that can both make us money but also keep you a little bit out of trouble. So I think, you know, it’s a little self serving with the (unintelligible) and I think it’s just a skewed perspective on what his behavior is already going to be.
Q: You’re doing a two-episode arch so would you relish the opportunity to be a reoccurring kind of arch-nemesis of Dr. Dani and/or Nico?
Orlando Jones: Yes, I mean, I love the show. I think it could be a lot of fun to see where that goes. I mean, I (therefore) think it really changes that – the dynamic because, you know, Dr. Dani’s approach is so – you know, it’s clinical, it’s factual, it’s based on something. So I think anything that gives her something to play off of is wonderful as Callie is I think is great. So that comes (about and) be amazing. Had a great time in the show and, you know, it’d be fun to go back.
Q: Is your role acting kind of adversarial or do you think worked more with Dr. Dani’s method of doing the therapy?
Orlando Jones: It could – frankly, it could go either way. I think the relationship no matter what, it’s going to have some adversarial element because, you know, Laz sees the world so much differently than she does. And, you know, she’s a (mom) and, you know, Laz is more interacting with the players on sort of a day-to-day basis. So I think he’s going to be a pain in Nico’s butt to a certain degree. And I think the decisions and the ways that he would approach doing things are so different than Dani. I think she was absolutely questioned, you know, is that the right move and do you want to, you know, (temperate) that decision before you do it whereas I think Laz will just jump in and say, “Let’s just see where the chips fall.” And it think that – those two different approaches are always going to create some adversarial relationships.
Q: Do you think Laz’s motivations are more altruistic like he wants to help people or if he’s just in it for the money, it’s more self-serving.
Orlando Jones: I see it very much as both, you know. In the research part of it, I sort of spent a lot of time trying to figure out, you know, what the middle ground is and – because I think there’s a – I think Laz is genuine the fact that he really does think he’s helping and that he is, you know, grooming TK. So I think he’s genuine but I do think he’s altruistic at the same time. So, you know, I look at him like he’s a creature who has these massive audiences and they all love him and they believe him and then he helps his people, but he’s a creature who doesn’t believe in God. So that’s how I see it.
Q: Could you talk a bit about how as an actor it is for you to approach this guest role where you only have two episodes to create a character versus a series regular character.
Orlando Jones: It’s a little – it’s a totally – to some degree the approach is the same and to some degree the approach is different. You know, most of my career has been in the movie business where, you know, you’re going to live with whomever it is for, you know, three, four months or longer. A lot of the ground work I think ends up being done by sort of the writers and you ultimately look at, you know, the arc of the episode and try, at least from my perspective, to – and view the character with as much nuance as you possibly can. And I think, you know, in some of the questions I’ve been asked already, that’s really been the challenge. I mean, it’s really easy to play Laz to me as this really sort of sleazy guy who just sort of comes in and takes advantage of TK. I kind of feel like that’s kind of straight on – up the middle and on the (nose) and you should have seen it coming. So what I wanted to kind of get my head around when approaching something and it gets kind of low, low, low, what’s the reality of it and what’s the best side of the worst guy. So – and often when you’re doing something where you have a role, this guy, you know, is a lovely person. He’s welcoming. Well, what is he trying to hide? What’s his secret? So, I mean, ultimately I think, you know, we’re kind of binary people and there’s two of us living inside all the time, you know, that get into (bad). So I think the tough part is trying to (curse) that and then try and find the moment in the scenes that you have in order to give the character some, you know, life and, you know, some interest and nuance. So that’s generally the approach, you know, and it’s difficult primarily because, you know, it’s (relegated) by screen time so you try and deal with it as best you possibly can and look at each scenes and not what the objective is that’s happening in the story but then how you can make the objective of the story a little bit more interesting than it’s going to be than if you just hit it on the (nose).
Q: You’re playing a life coach, so did you walk away with any new life lessons?
Orlando Jones: I don’t know that I have time to do that. I definitely – you know, I definitely have previously not been, you know, the biggest (head) of the life coaches. I always thought of it sort of like, “Seriously, that’s really what you do?” So I think I definitely gained a little bit more respect for that profession because like I do think that, you know, if they’re (core), they really are trying to, you know, help people so it’s kind of positive look on people who are devoting their lives to try and to go for the – you know, do better for themselves and do better for others. So that, you know, I think I gained a little bit more respect for the profession and that, you know, for me, that was (based) because it was something I previously just made fun of.
Q: Obviously Laz spends a lot of time with TK, but is there a particular character on the show that you would have liked to have shared a few more scenes with?
Orlando Jones: Yes. I really – you know, Callie and I have known each other for a while from New York so, I mean, I definitely wanted to – I would have loved to interact with her more, as well as, you know, Marc Blucas’ character. I like the – you know, I like it very much, the characters on the show. And it was – I certainly was (relegating) more on TK and Nico and, you know, Callie and I a little bit of running into each other but for the most part, our interaction is (relegated) through TK out of love who have gotten through the differences in our philosophies and the differences in our approaches to working with athletes. That would have been interesting. I would love to do that.
Q: Can you tell us about your character?
Orlando Jones: Let me think. I think he’s a bit of a (snazzy) dresser, I can tell you that. And I’m almost sure that he’s a Corey Hart fan. I would want – I think I’ve been dancing around the edges. So I think I’ve given you as much as I can give you without, you know, sort of blowing the episodes.
Q: How is it working with the cast? Were they very welcoming? Are they a fun group to work with?
Orlando Jones: I honestly – you know, I have to settle a lot of guest star stuff and, you know, when you do it, you’ll never know what environment you’re walking into. This one is particularly welcoming, inviting. The cast is really, really lovely. And I don’t say that in a sort of the, you know, difficult sort of be as an actor kind of way. I mean lovely in the sense that might – you get a call after work like, “Hey, we’re going here. Let’s go hang out.” You know, it’s a lot more like there’s a real family and a real sort of (peer) community happening on this show which I think if you’re seeing on screen, it’s really wonderful and it’s really special. It is not the way it generally is. You know, generally any group of people that kind of breaks and it clicks, that’s not what that is. It’s – that’s – you know, it’s really like a theater environment and I think that, you know, part of the reason the show is so wonderful is they’re so giving and open and respectful of each other. So it’s really something special going on there.
Q: You do a lot of movies and occasionally guest starring roles. Are you looking to do more television or are you still trying to see if you’re more towards movies?
Orlando Jones: It’s really – I don’t know that I look at the medium, you know, whoever – the people are watching stuff on iPads and phones, I’m not sure if it really matters anymore. So I think it’s – for me it’s more about the commitment. I mean, you know, finding the right role on television is difficult because you sign a seven-year contract. So I – on television, you know, it’s really just been about finding the right things that’s going to be the right long-term fit. And, you know, in movies it’s a little different because, you know, it’s a finite period of time, you know. So I think for me that’s sort of the difference but, you know, the right role, you know, with the right cast and so on and so forth, I mean, that’s really what you look for, you know, be it in a guest starring role or otherwise. And, you know, this was, you know, a role where there’s a really wonderful cast and, you know, the show (runners) and fantastic writers. So, you know, it is like, this is kind of the best of all possible worlds, you know, so it’s – you know, if that happens in another show, I would definitely do that. And if it happens in a film, I would do that. But half of the people I know from TV are not doing film and half the people I know from film are not doing TV. So I’m not sure where it’s all going to land. But, you know, for me it’s really more about the character than it is anything else.
Q: You mentioned about looking for roles and I’m curious, when you’re looking for a role, whether it’s Necessary Roughness or something else, is there something in particular, a particular type of character or is it just a matter of it’s a good script and it’s a good cast and I’m going to go with it?
Orlando Jones: No, there are other factors, obviously. I mean, I think one of the big factors is, you know, have I done this before? And, you know, that’s – you know, obviously, you want to grow and do different things. So that becomes part of it. So the other part of it, I think is also just about – how do I put this? I think it’s more difficult now because, you know, so much stuff is a little – it’s a little on the (nose) for my taste. So, you know, trying to find stuff that’s going to be, you know, noteworthy. Something – you know, at some point, I’m going to end up in a situation where I’m talking to the – you know, people like you and I hate to feel like I’m the guy that’s lying. So I go, “Oh, it was wonderful. The cast was incredible and it was such a great experience,” like, I don’t do that well. So, you know, trying to make sure, you know, you actually feel that way about the character. Like I don’t know how often somebody gets a phone call saying, “Hey, here’s a role for a life coach to a professional athlete who’s got a” – like, to me, I’m like, yes, don’t hear that every day. That sounds awesome. So, you know, you look for those elements, obviously, you know, whenever you got to do something. And if there’s something that’s been done a thousand times before, then you hope that or you want it to be a different approach to it, you know. So, you know, I’ve seen the (Procedure) before but when I saw Dexter, I went, “Now, that’s interesting.” You know, the cop is a serial killer. Wow that’s different than before.” So I mean, generally you look for stuff that, you know, I call it disruption. Something that disrupts what was previously there and forges a new path and that’s probably the primary factor.
Q: Athletes and actors have a lot in common I think personality wise. The celebrity and the ability to act out and just – there’s a lot of ego involved obviously. When you’re doing a role like this, does that make it a little easier that you’re able to kind of get a little bit in the head of TK and sort of know where he’s coming from?
Orlando Jones: Well, I think it does to some degree. I think the trick of it is – you know, it depends on how sober they are. So, you know, I think there’s some symbolic outrageous behaviors that you hear about. You know, the trick of it, you know, as you know, I mean, there’s the great story out that Plaxico Burress shot himself, right? And then it’s all over the news that Plaxico Burress shot himself. And so what I thought was interesting about, at least the parts of that story that I heard, is that one of his teammates had go on an anniversary trip with his wife and the limo driver had held them at gun point and then it just happened a week before. So Plaxico Burress having heard that from his close friends, his teammates, was like, “You got robbed by a limo driver? Forget that. I’m now taking a gun.” So he takes a gun out with him and he ends up shooting himself. So the story that we heard was the story that’s looking in some NFL player who shot himself, what an idiot. But from his perspective, it was, “Well, wait a second, people are getting robbed too in my profession left and right, so I should carry a firearm to protect myself.” So I think that that’s’ what’s interesting about being able to do this kind of role and this kind of show and I think that’s’ what great about this show is you get to delve into the underside of, you know, what happens the day before in that guy’s life that led to the tragedy and that becomes to me more interesting than just hearing the sound bytes in the tabloid story as opposed to actually hearing, you know, for lack of a better word, you know, what would be the real story. So, I don’t know if he – I don’t think it’s easier because the real story generally has a lot more to do with what your hopes and your fears are and, you know, what’s going on in your head. So it doesn’t allow you to get that far ahead of this because you’re kind of delving into the truth as opposed to, “Oh, it is one that, you know, (unintelligible),” and everybody heard that.
Q: You mentioned that before you did this role you didn’t have a lot of faith in life coaches and how serious they were about it. And so I’m wondering just from your own standpoint, it doesn’t sound like you’d be headed off to a life coach if you were going through some sort of a personal crisis. Every actor has those pressures that you have to deal with, you have to work your way through all these different minefields of clingers and people hang on and people trying to do you wrong. How do you sort of handle that yourself?
Orlando Jones: You know, to be honest with you, it’s weird because, you know, like everybody will tell you, a lot is your family and friends; these people that you’ve known for a long time. So, you know, you’ve built the trust with them before. You know, I think it’s been a learning curve to be honest with you that just sort of comes with it. And, you know, you can – the one thing I can guarantee you is, you know, people are going to make mistakes, you know, and I’m no exception to that one. But I think it’s great if you can get a mentor, which I think I was fortunate enough to get, who can lead you away from some of those minefields if you get to listen to them. It’s difficult to me, at least in my profession, to go to a life coach per se because they don’t really know what the minefields are because they’re not really in it. You know what I mean? It’s – you know, I’m not an (account). You know what I mean? So it’s different when you’ve got an actor who’s older and that, you know, blah, blah, blah. He’s already done all these who can sort of, you know, grab you in the back of your neck and go, “Kid, go down that road but I can tell you how it’s going to lead,” and then you have an opportunity to listen or not listen. So, you know, for me the best mentors are, you know, there are a lot of, you know, actors that’s been great to me and helped me navigate this world once again. The life coach thinks – you know, in my world doesn’t really think. You know, for me it makes the most sense but somebody else might be (great).
Q: Do you think Dr. Dani is skeptical about Laz being involved with TK in a maternal way? Is she worried that he has some ulterior motives?
Orlando Jones: I think it’s three-fold. I think one is, I think it is a little bit maternal because she spent some time with TK. And I think the other is, you know, again, what his credentials, you know, where did he – you know, what is his previous experience and who are his clients and that sort of thing. And I think lastly, she – you know, just a little bit out of nowhere to be working with someone. I think there’s a – when you – I think it’s a little weird, you know, when you’re working with somebody and all of a sudden somebody else shows up and you’re no longer working with them. That’s always a little bit of like, “Okay, hold on. What happened? You’re doing what?” So I think all of those things kind of come together that kind of throw her for a loop. But, you know, it’s TK’s decision. So she kind of has to respect that. So again, you know, we definitely, you know, interact on the show but our interaction is sort of bordered by TK’s decision. So – and I think those are the reasons that she’s sort of uncomfortable with it.
Q: How does Laz interact with some of the other characters, Matt or Nico? Are they as untrusting of Laz as Dr. Dani is or do they understand a little more about why he would want a life coach?
Orlando Jones: Well, I think, you know, obviously Dani has a great relationship with, you know, Nico and the staff there. So I think that, you know, in the world of professional athletes it’s like, if they have identified the person that they want you to help and then the player goes out and gets someone on their own and it just – I think it’s sort of the same reaction which is, you know, who is this person? And I think, you know, their first phone call is more than likely asking her what does that mean. It puts her in an awkward position because she can’t be responsible for me, she doesn’t know me. So I think that, you know, he becomes sort of disruptive to the entire – he’s disruptive to everything surrounding TK the moment he shows up.
Q: You’re primarily a film actor. While the landscape of TV is changing with so many of the cable stations producing this really high caliber material and the networks sort of not up to par with the rest of them. Were you excited to jump on that bandwagon and get on one of the most popular cable network? And do you hope that this will lead to a recurring role in future seasons?
Orlando Jones: Yes. I mean, it could. I mean, I think it could be really great. I mean, there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening on cable from Breaking Bad to Justified, Necessary Roughness, you know, Burn Notice and the like. So I think, you know, USA is incredible. You know, I love the Network. It’s something that I watch a lot. And I do think there’s some interesting things on Network as well, don’t get me wrong. But I do think that what’s changed a lot is there isn’t a lot of interesting character stuff going on – really going on. So – and that’s even probably – and I think it’s unfortunately most true on the film side. I think that’s really where – you know, it’s this cookie cutter is – (the day is long) now. So, you know, I think you’re left to turn to, you know, I would say the actors really – the real actors’ ground which is the theater which is, you know, where I’m (confined) the last couple of years just because it’s amazing that (unintelligible) eight shows a week and do it. Yes, you know, I’ve been looking for the right thing on cable to be honest with you for a while. But it’s about finding, you know, “really what the right thing is.” And it’s a tough find for me because there are some things that I, you know, think would be great to do for a couple of months. But, you know, seven years is just a long stretch sometimes. So – and I also think that it has a lot to do with the writers that you’re, you know, going to work with, the executive producer that you’re going to work with. So, you know, I had a great time when I went and did House last year. It was, you know, a lot of fun. It was a fun role and the whole nine. But, you know, again, that role is something that people are like, “Oh, you’re going to be recurring.” And I was like, “Man, it was really great to be on this show and I loved it and it’d be nice to go back and visit but I can’t see myself doing that every week.” You know, this is something that’s a lot more fun and I like – you know, Necessary Roughness is more my kind of show. Not that I don’t love House but this is more in the real (help), given how much time my family spend in professional sports. So if it’s so, it feels more like home to me. So, you know, what at least (presents) for something else, you know, I have to agree with you, I think the most interesting stuff in entertainment right now is happening on cable, you know, irrespective of the venue. You know, more money and – more money being spent on the future but I can’t say it’s more entertaining to watch.
Q: You’re so great with comedy and Necessary Roughness is sort of a light-hearted drama. How did you approach the role because you’re just so good with the comedic timing and just everything about you, going back to Evolution and that scene where “there’s always time for lubricant.” How do you approach a dramatic role?
Orlando Jones: I’ve seen also – you know, to be honest with you, I don’t really look at them that way. I kind of look at them more like, you know, what’s – it’s really about what the story is, right? So I kind of figure the story is the story. So you know the story you’re telling. And by and large, don’t really (need new) stories, we tend to know what they are. So I think, you know, it’s more about how your character, you know, feels the (safest) and the nuances and the shades and the color in the story and less about trying to, you know, discover when you’re doing comedy or drama, they’re really the same thing to the most part. I mean, timing is a little different but they’re not very different from each other. So I think in most of the movies that I love, there’s always, you know, the – particularly my favorite comedy, are really heavy dramas. You know, 48 Hours is a very, very violent, graphic drama. You know, so I don’t tend to lend myself very well to the broader sort of (Dodgeball X) kind of comedies which are really just full on broad comedy. I mean, I kind of struggle and there’s a lot of comedy world. I tend to like it a lot more grounded. So my approach to comedy tends to be fairly dramatic because I think the funniest stuff is the stuff that just sort of comes out of the moment in real life and real situations and if you can find that balance of the reality in comedy, I think it’s a lot better than when you just – you know, doing what I did on MADtv which is sketch which is by (definition), way over the top. So I kind of be like that’s sketch and that’s where it’s supposed to be. For (it weren’t be) in a light-hearted drama or a comedy, I still try to – you know, I’ll find the common ground and find the truth and so on and so forth. And I tend to see it that way. But because I see it that, I think it definitely takes me, you know, out of a lot of the things that many of my friends do just to do kind of comedic stuff.
Q: There’s a bit of a difficulty when a new person comes on to an already established show. Did you find though there was instant chemistry when you started working with the cast? Or did you need a bit of time to find your footing?
Orlando Jones: Well, fortunately I was in good – Callie and I already knew each other and Marc Blucas and I already knew each other. So really the people I was most meeting was Mehcad and Nico. So Mehcad and I sort of immediately hit it off and Nico and I had the same experience. So it was pretty seamless. What I can say is that normally what you’re describing is what happens, you kind of show up and there’s already different kind of groups going on. But because they’re such a close-knit group already, you know, I think I kind of was pre-vetted because I already knew two of them so I kind of walked in and was like, “Hey, everybody. We know each other from dah, dah, dah.” We kind of hit the ground running and really had a great time together. So I managed to jump over that hurdle this time and it was – I think it will show up on the screen in fact. So I’m excited about that.
Q: Why do you think people tune in to watch Necessary Roughness?
Orlando Jones: I think he show is extremely well written. I think it has, in my opinion, one of the more underrated cast on television. I think that people are sort of prone sort of around, you know, lots of words about, you know, this person is amazing or that person is amazing and so on and so forth. And I think they are sometimes true. I think that sometimes that, you know, actor has a great pedigree and people, you know, like saying good things about them. I think this cast is just really good, phenomenal work. And I think they’re doing it on a subject matter that we previously haven’t seen before which to me just grants them greater kudos. It’s just I think it’s compelling to want to see and also to humanize a lot of the people that people think are just sort of (knocking) them but which are, you know, people who are wildly successful who’s, you know, done well for themselves financially or who reign the spotlight, then I think, you know, what this does is sort of, you know, illuminates that, you know, irrespective of what’s happening in your life or what the (outcome will be). There are still, you know, formidable problems that of course we have to overcome. And I think, for me anyway, that’s reason enough to tune in because sometimes I just struck out of it when I kind of go, “Okay, that’s so ridiculous. I just don’t buy it.” But on this show, I really don’t need to – you know, the people are going through what they’re going through and, you know, I enjoy it very much.
Q: What would you like to say to everybody who’s a fan and supporter of you and your work?
Orlando Jones:: Oh that’s easy. Thank you. I feel really grateful, you know. I still sort of see myself as, you know, the (flat nose) kid from South Carolina. So – because I didn’t really grow up in the, you know, whole New York, LA, Hollywood setting I kind of still very much feel like I’m – you know, like (unintelligible) from the Midwest to the South who is sort of, you know, very much sort of living this, you know, dream today because (I didn’t grow up and neither come from it). So it’s – I really try and work hard to have the audience not to get bored because I think I would be bored because I like to think that just over and over and over again. And so, you know, it’s a part of my decision being positive to go, “Hey, you know, I’ve had really great fans that have stuck with me, you know, for a very, very long time now.” And, you know, I really respect that fact that, you know, there’s a lot of things calling for their attention. And the fact that they spend it going to see me or going to check me out is something that I will never fully be able to – you know, I don’t know how to say the proper thank you. But I hope before I, you know, bite the dust that I’ll figure out how to actually do something that’s more (useful) than saying thanks which just sounds like some suck-up, (jackass). But I actually really mean it.
Q: Could you talk about working with David Duchovny in Evolution?
Orlando Jones: Oh, sure. You know, Duchovny and I have remained friends from years (since we met off that movie). I was – you know, I think Duchovny is wildly talented. I was so excited when Californication came on and I remember I called him and he sort of answered the phone and like really he’s kind of like, “What?” And I was like, “Dude, the show is awesome.” And he was like, “You were the only person to call me.” I was like, “How can I be the first person to call you? It’s like, the show just premiered.” So we’ve always have that sort of connection in of itself. He just – he’s extremely funny and I think I’m glad the Californication happened for people to sort of see how funny he is. The truth of the matter is, unlike most people, he’s actually that funny in real life. I can’t say any – I can’t say enough good things about the guy but I know that this is an incredible guy and we had a lot of fun on Evolution. It was a little funny that they paid us to do that.
Q: What’s something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?
Orlando Jones: I always say that I have not done a comedy in five years. I was thinking that – I think people are very surprised about that.
Q: Are you looking forward to trying to do that again or does it not matter to you either way?
Orlando Jones: It would be fun. You know, for (50 minutes) or so it really has to do with, you know, what the role is. I don’t – you know, a lot of comedy for me is very much sketched. You know, it’s like, you know, I came out, you know, at MADtv and the Replacements and all that kind of jazz but it’s very different. You know, it’s very different navigating that world now and looking for the kind of comedy that I particularly tend to like. So because of that, I found myself in dramas because I say for whatever reason people are – you know, has seen enough dramatic work now that I find myself getting that call and that call became a bigger call than the comedy call which is just kind of still a little bit shocking to me. But I think that’s primarily because there really aren’t any half hour sitcoms (either) from single camera to, you know, very keen multi-cameras and the comedy movies that are being made are (the same) black people.
Q: What would be your ultimate dream role? If you could write your own, is there something specific you’re looking for?
Orlando Jones: No, I think – you know, I seem to like – I mean, there was this time when I think at least the comedies that I really like though, I thought were phenomenal. So I tend to like the stuff that – you know, I’d like – some people may consider, you know, throwbacks. You know, the Silver Streak of the world or (Star Crazy) or 48 Hours or Beverly Hills Cop. I mean, really look at those movies as dramas. You know, 48 hours is I’m trying to find the person who murdered my partner. In Beverly Hills Cop is I’m trying to find the guy who murdered my best friend. They’re not like they’re goof balls sort of comedy stuff that we are more akin to seeing now. And, you know, they’re more in keeping with sort of the, you know, old Abbott and Costello movies, right? Everybody in those movies were into drama except for Abbott and Costello who were in a comedy. So I tend to look at those movies and feel more connection to them than I do some of the broader parity stuff where people are trying to parity a parity which I don’t even know how that works or people are just, you know, doing a broad comedy movie, you know, based on another. I don’t – this doesn’t – I don’t know where the Laz is in those movies and so a lot of times I’m like, “Thanks a lot but I’m really not your guy.” Or if I feel like I did it on MADtv already and that’s where it belongs. So, yes, I mean, I think for me it’s just trying to wrap my head around what makes sense. So in a perfect world, definitely a drama, an action comedy would be a lot of fun to do. I think those are the top of my favorites.
Orlando Jones Interview, Lazarus ‘Laz’ Rollins
Watch NECESSARY ROUGHNESS Wednesday Nights at 10/9c on USA Network
August 17, 2011