Grandfathered Interview with Danny Chun, Josh Peck, & Paget Brewster
While at the ATX Festival, we had the opportunity to chat with Grandfathered’s creator Danny Chun and actors Josh Peck and Paget Brewster. Read our interview below.
Where did the concept for the show come from?
Danny Chun: “It came from, actually John and I just wanted to create something for John. It was really just something that was therapeutic for him. He’s such a star. He was a TV star and he wanted to do something that was really right in his wheelhouse. It seemed like this perfect time for him to do a part like this. A character that was really inspired by him, his real life.”
“I think that he does an amazing job and think it’s partially because just a role that was built for him. The really interesting stuff that, in my opinion, makes the show exciting. The more complicated relationships that came about from this really simple concept. John’s the grandfather. That’s very very basic comedy concept but what me and Dan Fogleman, who’s the producer, and John also, got really excited about was doing that but then digging in and finding what was really interesting about it and not just playing that simple concept throughout the show. The relationship with the son, what would be the most interesting version of the son and give it texture. We’ve started out from there. Dan Fogleman, he always has the most sitcom-y concept in the world for what we’re going to do but the most sick kid version of it that we can. “
Were you freaking out when you found out that you were going to be playing John Stamos’ son?
Josh Peck: “I wanted to call up 13-year-old chubby Josh and be like, “Everything’s going to work out just fine.” I would have a lot fewer worries going on had I know that I would even passable as John Stamos’ son. It was completely unbelievable and I don’t know if it was the same for you, but of course you know John Stamos. I grew up with Full House, but then being around his, just in this universe and when you mention him to other people you realize what a true household name this guy is. Beloved by the whole world. So many of my friend’s moms were like, “Yo, hook me up with Stamos. Let me come by a set. Let me talk to him.” It was pretty awesome.”
You (Paget Brewster) just recently came off Community. I’ve been a fan of yours since Friends but Community is coming right in my mind. That’s a Yahoo show. How was the difference between working on something like Community and working on something like Grandfathered?
Paget Brewster: “Honestly, I didn’t see a studio network. Difference. It wasn’t like, we shot in a basement in a business building next to the L.A. river in the back lot of CVS, so maybe it’s not the best stage but it works for Community. I didn’t see a lack of support or anything. I think Yahoo sells the same to me. I had guested the year before on Community when it was at Paramount for NBC and I didn’t see a difference. Everyone had a dressing room and the service was great. Yeah. The hours were better on this. There were worse than Community.”
What characters do you play, and how do they fit into the show ‘Grandfathered’?
Josh Peck: “I play Gerald and Paget plays my mom. It’s just been the two of us my entire life because I had never met my father. Which is pretty similar to my real actually. I’m getting the real deal over here. What’s crazy is that when I have the audition scene, it was written this nervy character in the description. I brought it to a buddy of mine, and you know me, I’m circling down, “I don’t know if I can play nerdy.” He’s like, and we read the scene once. He’s like, “Hey, dummy. This is slightly like your real life.” Then when I started actually seeing that there were these similarities where my character is this savant in many ways. He’s incredibly smart and can do great technical things and super pragmatic and logical but he lacks all the joie de vivre and imagination that so in character of John Stamos’ character. The biggest difference is John’s character is this Lothario ladies man and I am so not that in the show. In meeting him and my desire to meet him and finding that balance because I know that I’m lacking all these things and from what my mom tells me on the show my dad was this super charming schmoozer guy. I think that’s what attracts me to him.”
Paget Brewster: “My character Sara is the ex of Jimmy from long ago back when they went to the Whisky GoGo and had a lot of unprotected sex. She used to work with Jimmy in a kitchen. She used to be a cook. Now she’s a therapist and she questions that. Mostly she just is, she now has to have a relationship with the guy and has always loved a part of him. A lot of her role for him is, “Shut up. Ugh.” You made the worst choices with your life and don’t hurt my kid and my grand-kid. That’s her role is to begrudgingly accept this Stamos character.”
How long has this idea for the show and the show been in the making and when did you film the pilot?
Danny Chun: “We filmed the pilot in late March of this year. The idea came about last July. I met John and it was really just a business meeting. That sometimes happens. My agent was like, “Meet John Stamos, he wants to do TV.” We had known each other a little bit. I’m working with Bob Saget so I met him a little bit. I just came into the meeting with a bunch of ideas and this was going out excited about it. He was excited about it too because he had been, a guy like him who’s just such an icon of TV, it’s hard for him to find roles that I think really excite him. He was thinking about doing more off beat stuff, like a Netflix thing where he plays against-type and he’s playing an asshole who snorts cocaine and shoots guns and stuff. He was thinking about doing but then the type of day that I met him, he had just had a conversation with someone and just like do what you do best. Do what everyone wants you to do which is being a complex but good guy who’s trying hard. Go at that. He was ready I think for a show like this.”
We saw Bob Saget had a cameo. I was wondering, are there going to be any other crazy cameos? Maybe Wilmer?
Danny Chun: “He owns a restaurant in the show. I feel like that can be a perfect opportunity. It’s set in L.A.”
Paget Brewster: “I was going to ask you last night. Can we get a Dirty Bob Saget? His works so dirty. What if Bob Saget just played Bob Saget as a guy in a restaurant? I want that, because I think he’s funny. I like him.”
Well, he did well on Entourage.
Paget Brewster: “He did! I was a showtime show called Huff and he played a dirty bastard on that show too. I know he loves it. “
Oh my god, he’s so funny. I want Dirty Bob Saget.
Danny Chun: “We all do.”
I’m curious about the restaurant setting. What made you choose the restaurant? It does seem like a really interesting place to set it.
Danny Chun: “That was when we were talking with John. What would be a good, because we wanted to have it really be inspired by his real life personality but he can’t be an actor as this guy. We were kind of like, a restaurant is kind of like you’re an actor but in a very certain setting. He was talking with the restaurant, that’s his stage. There’s guy’s like that in L.A. and probably all over but there are restaurants. There’s a restaurant called Greg’s in L.A. and the guy Greg, you walk in and he’s there and he greets you and he knows everybody. He introduces people to each other. He knows everyone’s name, that kind of guy. That’s really what Jimmy is.”
When I’ve interviewed a lot of other people, when there’s a child or baby involved, they’re like ugh.. the children. Obviously she’s adorable. I’m guessing it’s twins… Working that into the story, is this an additional challenge in getting your work done on the show, having that added element or is it just par for the course same as other stuff you’ve been ?
Paget Brewster: “I only did that one scene with them. At the end. Yeah. It was late. That was one of the last days.”
Danny Chun: “Yeah, that was the last day.”
Paget Brewster: “They had gotten used to, I think this is their first job. they had gotten used to being on set more. I got an easy one. There were some days where, i mean they’re 15 months old.”
Danny Chun: “They’re a year and a half about.”
Paget Brewster: “I don’t know children. I don’t have them, don’t want them. If I did, I would want this. I would want grown up, funny. I wish it was a mistake I made in my early 20s. That would have been the best. I got a good version of the kids but I think it can be really challenging especially at that ages. In their brains aren’t they like fighting for survival? They want to make sure that they get fed.”
Danny Chun: “They have no idea what’s going on. I have so much sympathy for the kids. They just get plopped into a thing. 50 adults staring at them just waiting for them to do something. They naturally freak out for the first 3 days of it.”
Was there any hesitation from John Stamos working with twins again? Yeah.
Paget Brewster: “Was there?”
Danny Chun: “There was not until he had to actually do it. This is what america loves. That’s what they want. He was like oh right. Now I remember.”
Not being parents did it make it harder or easier for the show to play your roles?
Josh Peck: “I’m all about kids and I love kids when they’re someone else’s children because then I can just absorb all the cuteness and then when they get in trouble I’m like, “Where’s your mom?” Do the pass off. As Paget was saying, on day one, they definitely were like who are these massive grips and gapers staring at me and craft service while I’m trying to be cute. By the end of the process they were much more comfortable. They not as alarmed by the setting. Babies are easy except when they act like babies. They’re pretty cute. We could potentially be talking about the next Olson twins. It’s pretty crazy.”
Paget Brewster: “I hadn’t seen Full House until I got cast in this. I watched some and those Olson’s were outstanding. Those were great kids.”
Danny Chun: “There’s this woman who actually I’m going to talk to who was the baby consultant or something and she still does that. John “
Paget Brewster: “OMG She was the Olson whisperer.”
Danny Chun: “John introduced that we’re going to talk because I’m sure she’s got insane secrets and tricks and stuff in having a baby do stuff on command.”
I love the dynamic between Paget’s character and Stamos. Are you going to continue that?
Danny Chun: “We were always thinking about with the character. This is the woman who gets to talk to men. There’s so many men like Jimmy who are out there. They get older but they still think that they can date whatever age girl they want and not settle down and they can have it all. We wanted to write a role that was the voice for all the people in the world that think that’s really stupid and annoying and just finally wanted to slap those people across the face and call them on their crap. That’s what this character is. There’s a lot of ground to make up if there’s ever going to be a thing where she actually has feelings for him. There’s a lot of baggage there and she very strong and smart and independent. She see through every single that, she sees through all his tricks and all his crap and so it’s not going to be easy for them to go back to where they were in the 80s.”
I looked at your IMDb before I started this and I saw you worked on Happy Endings and Trophy Wife, both of which I love. They’re so heartbroken the both of them. As well as Simpsons and Office. You’ve done a lot of comedy, as have both of you guys have done a fair amount of comedy. I was wondering what lessons in general you’ve learned that you’ve brought to Grandfathered about comedy?
Danny Chun: “That’s interesting. I think one thing I’ve, I don’t think I’ve ever really learned anything. Any time you think you know something you end up thinking you’re wrong. Especially when it comes to comedy, which his such a magical thing. It’s hard to pin it down in terms of a science. What I’m going for I think with this show is comedy that’s really really basic characters and really grounded in reality in some way, as opposed to the kind of comedy, which I respect and I love, that’s more jokey comedy where… You’re writing these beautiful stand alone jokes and having the actors say them. The Office, I think at it’s best was really grounded in character. That’s why you were able to laugh but then also at the end of the episode you’re also able to cry or just be moved. That’s really what we’re trying to with this show. This had to be a comedy that also get people really invested in and care about. In TV these days where there’s so many different website that you can watch TV. There’s series on Hulu and on yahoo and all these things. There’s so many options. I think for my own self, the things that I want to watch are where I care about the stories. I want to see the next episode and see what happens. That’s the kind of show that I want to do here.”
I’m really curious to see more of the relationship between your character and Edie’s mom and how that plays out with how this all came to be. What can you tell us about that from both of you? What you can tell us about that dynamic, that relationship?
Josh Peck: “I think it was inspired casting on Danny’s end to cast someone like Christian because she’s, even in real life, she’s pop star and she dates Lil Wayne. I just sit back in awe of her and her natural dopeness. I can allow that to translate into my character Gerald who’s similarly had this one-off night with her where she just probably had a little bit too much to drink and all of a sudden they had this great baby as a result. The truth is he’s very much in love with her and she seems for the most part to be oblivious of him. It’ll be an interesting journey to see him going after her and think I think inevitably there’s going to have a come a point where he accepts the fact that maybe he never will have her. Then trying to date other women. He’s going to acquire some skills and I’m sure Jimmy’s character will help him in that and probably aided with a couple of adult beverages. It’ll be a fun thing to play because I feel like that’s so true to life. Trying to figure you the best way to be attractive to the other sex.”
What kind of TV shows do you guys watch?
Paget Brewster: “I watch mostly cooking shows and all of the, I’ve binged watched Grace and Frankie and Orange is the New Black. I will binge watch great fictionalized like serialized shows. Then mostly I like to cook when I’m at home so I’m watching anything Anthony Bourdain or Gordon Ramsay. Also, all of the What Not to Wear and Project Runway and All Stars. I watch a lot of reality.”.
Paget Brewster: “I like it. I like it.”
Danny Chun: “All Stars is one of my favorite shoes.”
Paget Brewster: “I like it.”
Josh Peck: “Chopped.”
Paget Brewster: “Love Chopped.”
Paget Brewster: “Cut throat kitchen. I like to have a cooking show on while I’m cooking. That’s why I was so excited when you were asking me during the pilot, “Maybe Sara goes into the kitchen at some point.” I was like good because that’s really all i do man. I have no other skills. I can chop pretty fast and I like to cook.”
Danny Chun: “That’s awesome.”
Paget Brewster: “What do you watch?”
Josh Peck: “I watch House of Cards, I like all that stuff. Transparent was awesome.”
Paget Brewster: “I loved binge watching that.”
Josh Peck: “So good. My girlfriend does the Kardashian’s and all those things. I get that in the periphery for sure, more than I probably want to admit. I don’t know what else I watch. I watch No Reservations. Anthony Bourdain’s pretty made three shows of the same show. Parts Unknown, The Layover, I’m in. If it’s got Anthony Bordain in it I’m all about it.”
Danny Chun: “I like Last Man on Earth. Makeup for You I think is maybe the funniest show of the last couple years. Workaholics. A lot of hour-long stuff. Game of Thrones Mad Men, stuff like that. We were into Better Call Saul for a little while.”
I really loved the scene between you two when you have a Friday night movie date, mother and son. It’s very Gilmore Girls-esque. I’m hoping to see more of you two in really that loving relationship. That was one of my favorite parts of the show. I was wondering, what are you guys excited for fans to see?
Paget Brewster: “I love that idea and I think again this goes back to the story I did that John and Daniel came up with and what you wrote that what I see from a single mom, and the character Gerald never even asked about his dad. Sara never told him. When he finally asks, “Okay, tell me about my dad.” I have to say, “Ugh. This guy.” I feel like the single mother, young mother alone with a kid, they have a bond in the real world that I think he wrote eloquently. This closeness that he’s not ashamed of. He’s like yeah I watch a movie with my mom every… I think that’s very touching and there’s something very specific about that mother son relationship that I am looking forward to support if we do. I see what you’re saying and playing was one things and then seeing it was like, “Aww.” I felt differently when I saw. I didn’t recognize at the time we were doing it that that’s what we were doing, but when I saw it I thought, “That’s lovely.” They’re buddies. There’s something that’s touching about it.”
Josh Peck: “I feel lucky. You don’t get to choose your parents unless you’re on TV. I’m looking at John and Paget and I’m like, “Yeah, I came from that.” I feel pretty cool about it. Also, I think as we were talking about earlier, the restaurant affords so much opportunity for hijinks and tomfoolery. There’s going to be some great. We’ve got some pretty killer guest stars on the pilot as you saw. It attracts characters, that location. I’m excited to see all the crazy stuff that comes out of it and we have a great support cast with Robbie.”
I’m curious, Sara, like Frankie, is the authority figure character. They have to say no. They don’t always get to be the fun one. I never felt like you always get to do the fun stuff as well. How do you balance that? You’re always the one saying no, you’re the authority figure and then you get to have fun and get laughs as well.
Paget Brewster: “I don’t know if I’m dong that, I think it’s being instructed through material that I think is multidimensional and great. I just want to do what I think is really unique and great and that’s what he wrote. I don’t think acting, maybe I’m a good picker. That might be it. Thank you for saying that. I’m not doing that. Thank you.”
Going into a setting like this, at a festival, where people are watching the show for the first time and being in the room as they’re reacting to it, do you find that process interesting, a little bit daunting? Have you experienced that before?
Danny Chun: “No. It’s terrifying. I don’t even know if I’m going to be in the room when it’s screening.”
Josh Peck: “I won’t be”
Paget Brewster: “What is that?”
Josh Peck: “I don’t really watch myself. I just don’t want to, I’ve seen the show. I saw it. My mom made me watch it with her. Maybe it’s because I’m too scared. I wouldn’t want, watching it with an audience, it’s terrifying. I don’t know if I’m going to do it.”
Danny Chun: “Thing about today, most of these people like the Empire people, they know they like Empire. People like this, they don’t know that they like the show.”
When you guys first for the script and auditioned for the show and saw everything what go you really excited to work on Grandfathered?
Josh Peck: “I think the idea was, To Danny’s credit, wasn’t really anything I’d seen on television before. It wasn’t trying to be the joke a second 30 Rocks for Modern Family. It had this beautiful balance of having that heart but also being incredibly funny. They were characters that I wanted to explore for a long period of time. The great privileged we’re afforded with television, whereas a movie it’s a 90 minute story line and you say goodbye to the character unless you’re doing a Marvel movie thing where you get to stay for 8 sequels. This could potentially be watching or playing this person for 5, 6 years. I thought that was excited. Gerald is somebody I can play for a long time.”
Paget Brewster: “The script I thought was great and reading it, I didn’t want to like it because I didn’t want to do a single camera again. I was like, “Ugh I want that easy multi cam.” Every page I was like it’s good. It’s funny. Oh man. Then you’re in your kitchen saying the line. That’s funny. Then I thought I’ll go in, I’ll audition. If I see it there, cool. Maybe they’re jerks. Maybe Stamos, he’s just all about the ladies and meh. He was great. He was so nice and funny and kind. Danny was great. The writers at Community were like that guys amazing. Then I was like I need this now.”
Josh Peck: “My actor buddies and I laughed. When you walk about of an audition, you feel good. You start deciding what you’re going to have from craft service the first day of the shoot. I’ll probably have a little oatmeal. Bowl of cereal.”