Q& A

There are he­roes, there are an­ti­heroes and then there’s Kenny Pow­ers. Guy Davis pitched a few ques­tions at Danny McBride, star and co- cre­ator of the ri­otous pay- TV com­edy East­bound & Down. DANNY YMCBRIDE MCBRIDE, EAST­BOUND & DOWN

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q& A -

Tele­vi­sion has off ered up buff oons, bas­tards and even se­rial killers as cen­tral char­ac­ters in re­cent years. But even the most tol­er­ant of view­ers may have an is­sue or two with Kenny Pow­ers, the pro­tag­o­nist of the new pay-TV com­edy East­bound & Down.

A pro base­ball pitcher who ship­wrecked his stel­lar ca­reer in a whirl­wind of ego­ma­nia, steroid abuse and po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect state­ments to the me­dia, Kenny is a full-throt­tle jerk.

And even when he’s forced to re­turn to his home town and start over from scratch, he still lives by the motto, “ I am bet­ter than ev­ery­body else”.

Don’t be fooled, though. Kenny may be a fi rst-class dip­stick but there’s more to him and his story that meets the eye, some­thing the six episodes of East­bound & Down grad­u­ally re­veal. And that’s what makes it one of the most bru­tally funny and un­ex­pect­edly in­sight­ful shows of the year.

Danny McBride, the scene-steal­ing star of Pineap­ple Ex­press and Tropic Thun­der, plays Kenny, and also co-cre­ated the show. Here, he talks about the cre­ation of East­bound & Down and what Kenny Pow­ers says about the US.

Like all great ideas, East­bound & Down started with beer and an infl at­able swim­ming pool, right?

I’d lived in L. A. for a while and ended up mov­ing back to Vir­ginia, where I grew up, just to save some money. I was liv­ing hand-to-mouth in L. A. and I needed to get ahead of my bills, so I moved back to Vir­ginia, stayed with my folks and picked up work as a bar­tender at night and as a sub­sti­tute teacher dur­ing the day. As I was there, I was still try­ing to write screen­plays, so I for­mu­lated this idea about a guy who’s teach­ing as a part-time thing. And one day I drove down to North Carolina, where a bunch of my bud­dies from fi lm school were, and we sat around one day in this baby pool out the back of this house, get­ting drunk and talk­ing about ideas. [ Laughs] This brain­storm­ing ses­sion is where the char­ac­ter of Kenny Pow­ers kind of came from.

Was Kenny al­ways a sports­man?

We wanted to have some­one who felt like they were above ev­ery­thing and take them back to their roots. None of us are ath­letes – we didn’t know much about base­ball be­fore we started writ­ing the show – but for us, some ego­tis­ti­cal jock seemed like a fun char­ac­ter to play around with. As we went through the var­i­ous sports, a base­ball pitcher seemed like an in­ter­est­ing choice. All eyes are on them; they’re in the mid­dle of the fi eld and every­one in the stands is looking at them. For a guy who’s used to that much at­ten­tion, to sud­denly fi nd him­self in a place where no one is pay­ing him any at­ten­tion seemed like an in­ter­est­ing sit­u­a­tion.

We learn more and more about Kenny as the show pro­gresses but there are times when he’s a hard guy to warm to. Was that ever a con­cern for you?

In a weird way, we thought Kenny rep­re­sented what a lot of peo­ple around the world prob­a­bly think of Amer­i­cans. And Kenny is prob­a­bly em­bold­ened by peo­ple think­ing of him as so crass and ego­tis­ti­cal. From the time we fi rst pitched the show, we were used to get­ting notes from ex­ec­u­tives on how like­able Kenny would be. So we’d al­ways be do­ing vari­a­tions in scenes – in some, he’d be a bit more quiet; in oth­ers, he’d be tak­ing no pris­on­ers. We’d al­ways give our­selves op­tions.

And it of­ten seems like you chose the take-no-pris­on­ers op­tion!

Peo­ple could write off the early episodes as re­ly­ing on vul­gar­ity. But to us, Kenny’s vul­gar­ity is an il­lus­tra­tion of this guy’s per­son­al­ity – he doesn’t know what’s ap­pro­pri­ate, he doesn’t know how to func­tion in reg­u­lar so­ci­ety. And it was al­ways our in­ten­tion that we would main­tain that crass tone but also re­veal a lot of other things about Kenny as well. Ex­plor­ing the diff er­ent lay­ers of this guy and re­veal­ing diff er­ent things about him while bal­anc­ing a kind of tragic tone with the com­edy was the most fun for us.

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