We all know Anthony Anderson, the talented actor/comedian from his roles on NBC’s “Law & Order”, “Me, Myself, and Irene”, “Transformers”, “The Departed,” “Scary Movie 3,” “Barbershop,” “Kangaroo Jack,” “Exit Wounds,” “Cradle 2 the Grave,” “Two Can Play That Game”, “Malibu’s Most Wanted”, K-Ville” and more. In his latest venture, he’ll be starring in the highly anticipated sitcom, “Guys with Kids”, premiering Wednesday September 26 on NBC.
“Guys with Kids” is a new comedy from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jimmy Fallon about three 30-something dads who try to hold on to their youth as they face the responsibilities of having kids. Thankfully, Gary (Anthony Anderson), Chris (Jesse Bradford, “The West Wing”) and Nick (Zach Cregger, “Friends with Benefits”) have each other to help navigate the highs and lows of fatherhood – while still trying desperately to remain dudes.
Balancing work or staying at home, being happily married or happily divorced, taking care of the “littles” while maintaining a social life are all daily challenges that the guys face. Whether it’s hosing down their babies in the kitchen sink or hitting the bar strapped with “babybjorns,” these guys are taking on fatherhood in ways no one has ever seen before. Nick and Gary’s wives – Emily (Jamie-LynnSigler, “The Sopranos”) and Marny (Tempestt Bledsoe, “The Cosby Show”) also offer their own parenting advice along with Chris’ ex-wife, Sheila (Erinn Hayes “Children’s Hospital”).
Because he’s so good in his craft and because I absolutely love Jimmy Fallon, I am looking forward to seeing this sitcom. I’m sure it will be full of comedic interludes and improv from the actors, getting back to doing what comes naturally…making us laugh!
Recently, BMWK had the pleasure of speaking with Anthony Anderson about the sitcom, his family life and his demanding career. It was such a pleasure to speak with him, as he is innately a comedic genius and very down-to-earth. Anderson currently lives in Los Angeles. He is married to his college sweetheart and they have two kids.
Let’s see what he had to say:
Is it hard for you, after it’s being so many years on a serious show, to come into a show like this, or is it fun, exciting, different, and all those things above?
Anthony Anderson: It was it a bit difficult. Outside of it being difficult, all those things above. I mean, I started my career in comedy with some of the best – the Farrelly brothers, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac…I got to work with them at an early age and cut my comedy chops. And then, I had something that I wanted to prove as an actor on the dramatic side. And so that’s why I made the turn. And a lot of people, a lot of my fans over the last five or six years that I’ve been in this dramatic turn, and have been asking me, “When am I coming back to comedy?”
[Thinking] Would they miss me in the comedic world? And I was like, it’s coming soon, it’s coming soon. I just have something that I need to prove to myself and to show to Hollywood that I’m more than just, you know, the comic relief in something. And I think I did that. And with the cancellation of “Law and Order,” that allowed me to be available sooner than I anticipated to step back into the half hour comedy world. And “Guys with Kids” just fell into my lap and so here I am.
So what was it about this that you liked, besides the fact that it was comedy? What was it that really drew you to it? I’m sure you had a choice of a couple of things.
AA: [laughing] Obviously you didn’t hear me when I said there was an unexpected cancellation of Law and Order…One, it came from Jimmy Fallon, who I’ve been friends with for a long time now. Two, it was mostly (comedy), which is what I want to get back into. You know, I actually had a development deal with the FX Network to do a half-hour comedy. And the “Guys with Kids” script fell into my lap. I read it. It came from Jimmy. They offered it to me. It was great. I could see where this show could go. Everything jumped off the page at me. And I just felt it was a no-brainer. And with the cancellation of “Law and Order,” that allowed me to be available sooner than I anticipated to step back into the half hour comedy world. And “Guys with Kids” just fell into my lap and so here I am.
Anthony, how easy was it for you playing that role of stay-at-home parent? Was it something that you naturally fell into, or was it something that maybe you always wanted to do in your personal life, as well?
AA: You know what, working as hard as I have been (in this industry, for the last 16 years) I would welcome falling into the role of the stay-at-home dad. I get the comforts of home. I get to raise my kids, I get to have fun with them. I get to watch them grow.
I mean, you can go for the quick and easy laugh all the time, but that’s short-lived. And like I said, I applaud them for allowing us to find the humor in the situations of just parenthood. And not, just fart jokes and pee jokes, and diaper jokes, and all of that. You know, it goes to show that we’re all invested in this for the long run, and I applaud them for it. And it makes coming to work and bringing life to the words that are on page that much more fun and that much easier.
Anthony, I was wondering, how does your own parenting style compare to Gary’s?
AA: You know what? It’s pretty much the same. I get to live, re-live, vicariously through Gary. Some of the things that I couldn’t do with my kids because I didn’t know how they would turn out, if I raised them the way that I was raised.
And we’ve had talks earlier on, even before we shot the pilot, about my experience growing up, especially with my mother and my father. And, we just shot an episode where I think every parent goes through what we went through in the episode. Its like, I want to raise you differently than how my father raised me. Not to say that our father raised us bad. It’s just a different time, a different era, and we have different sensibilities. And, I get to have time as Gary, through my four boys at home, just like I have time at home.
I’m the only father in the cast. I was the only parent until we recast, but now I’m the only father that we have in the cast. And, you know, I get to tell the guys what I’m going through, how I want to just have some fun with it. You know, that’s what it’s about. And I think that’s what resonates – I think that’s going to resonate with the audience and that’s what’s going to show onscreen.
Can you tell us about your son Nathan and daughter Kyra? How old are they and what do they do for fun?
AA: My daughter Kyra is 16 years old, junior in high school now (who started today), plays volleyball, and has a boyfriend, that I have to deal with now as a father. (mutters: Never thought these days would happen) He (daughter’s boyfriend) happens to be the quarterback of the football team. My daughter happens to be one of the stars of the volleyball team. So, you know, it’s kind of cool, that they both are athletic, and are both the stars of their teams!
My son is 12 years old and when I tell you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, truer words have never been spoken. I just took him on an audition yesterday, you know. Four or five years ago, he pointed to my wife and said, “Mom, I want to be an actor.”
What do you like most about fatherhood? Do you have any special fatherhood memories to share?
AA: You know what, both are pretty simple. Both of my children, being there, and that being the crowning achievement in my life, and it actually made me feel invincible. And it makes me feel that I can live forever now. And secondly with my son, I do stand-up comedy. I host a monthly comedy show in New York.
Going back to the story where I told you, four years ago my son told my wife that, he wanted to be an actor and that he also wanted to tell jokes. I invited him to New York on Father’s Day weekend to come into the room, the (Gotham) Comedy Club and perform at eight years old. And he got up and there was no fear, no trepidation, and he was funny. And that was the most memorable thing that I have to date, as a father with my son, watching him on stage, alone, tell “yo mama jokes” on Father’s Day, and having the audience respond favorably to him. So that is the most memorable that I can think of right now, outside of watching them come into this world.
And he’s actually pretty good at it, you know. He’s been studying for it since then for the last four years and, you know, is really enjoying going out on auditions. And, you know, he’s come close on a few things, and one day he’ll get a job. We had a long talk the other day about it, “You know what, son, you can’t have what you want this soon. You just have to work for it. And eventually the chips will fall in your favor. “
Anthony, I noticed that you are married to your college sweetheart. That’s so inspiring. I just want to know what are some of the things she does to help support you with such a demanding career?
AA: Oh, wow…everything! From – I’ll go back to the beginning – her letting me use her car to go to my first audition…And me coming home from that first audition and running into the back of the school bus and totaling the car on the 91 Freeway. So, that’s how it all begins. She’s always been a constant pillar for me.
And, I put this on my wife for my character of Gary. My wife is a homemaker who decided to give up her career working in the electronic publicity department at NBC for ten years to sit at home and raise the children and to support me because I’m constantly on the go.
And that’s what she does. You know, what she does as a stay-at-home mom, just like all the other stay-at-home moms and dads across the country is invaluable and unquantifiable. And, I applaud her for putting her career and her life on hold to help out with our life. It’s an ultimate sacrifice, what these stay-at-home mothers and fathers do.
Awesome. I love to hear that. That is so inspiring. You are so successful. You’re very positive and you’re seen in a very positive light, and I really appreciate that – as a father and as a wonderful actor. Do you have any advice that you share with your children about the industry?
AA: You know what, about the industry… I guess, and life in general, I tell them that we – the Andersons – aren’t quitters. We finish what we start. And no matter what it is. Like, you know, my daughter wanted to give up on volleyball early on when she first started. And I was like, “Sweetheart, this is what you chose to do, it’s the middle of the season, we are not about to quit. Now, if you want to stop at the end of the season, then that’s your choice, but we’re going to ride this out.”
The same with my son in everything that we do. It’s just like, No… we put in the work because you get out of it what you put into it. And that’s the philosophy that, you know, I live my life by and that I try to lead by example with my children.
When you were a kid, what was the worst lie you ever told your parents?
AA: [laughing] Yes, I don’t think the statute of limitations are up on the lies that I told my parents.
I can’t say, the worst lie, other than, I didn’t take the money, I didn’t do it, I didn’t have a party, and I didn’t wreck the car. But, I always wanted to play the piano. And my mom enrolled me in piano lessons. But we didn’t have a piano at home for us to play. So I went in her pocketbook and I took out her credit card, the one and only credit card that my mother has ever had in her life, and I called and bought a piano, a baby grand piano, and had it delivered to the house. And to ensure that I wouldn’t get in trouble, I bought my father a gold-plated cubic zirconium ring and had it delivered to the house. So that’s what I did. It wasn’t a lie, but that’s some of the stuff that I did as a kid. And, I think that was the time my mother tied me to the avocado tree [laughing].
What do want audiences to take from the show? What would you like them to feel and keep coming back for?
AA: I grew up in a point in time, watching Cosby and watching other shows where we got together as a family. We sat in front of the television and watched these shows, in fellowship as a family. And, some of these shows had messages to them without beating you over the head that you could take and impart to your family. That’s what I want people to take away from this and just to sit back.
Because the way we watch television now and entertained (especially with me, having a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old) things are just so fragmented now. My daughter’s off with her volleyball schedule and her friends. My son is off playing his video games and online with his friends. I think this is a show that will and can bring the family back together for at least a half hour…after dinner… for family time, which is what we used to do when we watched television growing up.
That’s what I hope people take away from this. And, it sounds kind of clichÃ© and corny and hokey-dokey. But to bring the family back together again; that’s what I hope for.
“Guys with Kids” premieres Wednesday, September 26, at 8:30 pm EST on NBC, and will also have a special preview Wednesday September 12 at 10:00 pm EST following “America’s Got Talent.”
BMWK, do you think you will give the show a try? I’ll definitely be tuning in.