Earlier this week, executive producer Justin Berfield and star Tyler Labine (Reaper) from the new FOX comedy, Sons of Tucson gave a great interview. Here’s some of the most interesting parts of it. Labine is hilarious in everything he does so I’m really looking forward to this new comedy which premieres Sunday, March 14th at 9:30 pm on FOX. Let’s get to the Q & A.
An actor once told me that one of the things he looks for in a good character is an interesting name. He said that if he’s got a character that’s got an interesting name or a weird name he’s halfway home in figuring out what his character’s all about, and I was thinking with a name like Ron Snuffkin, is there anything to that theory? What do you think?
T. Labine- Yes, absolutely. I agree. I wouldn’t say halfway home with a name, but it definitely inspires you to sort of delve into the character a little bit. With a name like Ron Snuffkin immediately a few nicknames spring to mind, like snuffleupagus, snuff’s enough, can’t get enough of the snuff. You just think in little self-referential nicknames, and it sort of lends itself to you figuring out the character, of being a little bit …, little bit neurotic. Yes, I guess there’s a little something to that, but I wouldn’t say half the work was done.
What was it about the show and the premise and the character that blew your skirt up and made you want to do it?
T. Labine- Well, initially, it was obviously the writing and then the name as we just went over, but the writing for the pilot was great, and it definitely grabbed me right away, and obviously, the character is an amalgam every sort of great slacker character that I’ve ever played, that I’ve loved to play and have never been able to flesh out and turn into a three-dimensional character, and these guys have taken that sort of character and put him right in the forefront and made him a real human being. I really appreciated that, so I grabbed onto that right away, too.
I’ve got to understand how did the kids dole out the money? You negotiate a $400/week salary or $350 depending on who’s paying. How do they have the money? Explain that to me.
J. Berfield- Well, we don’t really say for sure exactly how they have the money, but in our minds we sort of figured that they have a stack of cash that they have somewhere in the house that as they need it they go out and disperse it for whatever needs they have.
T. Labine- What I’ve always put together in my head is that the dad in an attempt to sort of keep his kids out of foster care or social services when he was in jail for this white collar crime was clever enough or stupid enough to leave his children, yes, exactly as Justin just said, a big stack of cash so they can stay out of trouble and go to their house in Paloma Ridge or in Tucson ….
Tyler, kids are annoying, and so you’re working for three kids, and what’s even worse and annoying kids is when they have that over you that they’re your boss, they’re your overlords. Which one of the three is the most annoying to your character, Ron Snuffkin?
T. Labine- Definitely Gary, the middle kid, he’s like, and this isn’t saying that wives everywhere are annoying, but very typically he’s the counterpart to Ron. He’s sort of the wife or I’m the wife. I don’t know what the … exactly because it’s very confusing, but definitely we’re butting heads the whole series. Yes, power struggle with a 13-year-old, lots of fun.
Aside from the financial incentive, you’ve already mentioned about the money that Ron’s going to get from the boys and it’s the unconventional proposal that they offer him, but it attracts Ron, and what is it that attracts Ron aside from the money into agreeing to the situation and sticking with it for as long as he does?
T. Labine- That’s a good question. I think initially, yes, the money is the big allure, but then I think it’s money only, actually. There’s nothing deeper about Ron wanting to go join with these kids and help them out. It’s just the money, and he thinks it’s going to be temporary as well, but I think the allure of future money coming in is the thing that keeps him there, and then there are times with Ron I think this sort of reluctant paternal figure sort of starts to take shape in Ron, and I think he starts to learn from the boys, and he starts to sort of feel needed from these children what he hasn’t had in his life. He hasn’t felt that anybody really needs him for anything. I think that could become a big draw for him, too, and also just a place to stay.
Nadya Now, it’s seems like Robby, Gary, and Brandon, they’re pretty smart kids, and they’re quite young. What nuggets of knowledge will Ron try and instill in the boys, sort of a reciprocal relationship in that way?
T. Labine What sort of knowledge am I going to try and instill in the boys?
T. Labine I don’t know. I think Ron’s a bit of a dummy. Well, he’s not a dummy. He just may not have the most sage words of wisdom for these kids, but that’s what I’m saying. I think it’s this sort of reluctant responsibility. It’s this reluctant father figure thing that’s coming out of Ron that I don’t think he even really knew that he had. He doesn’t really, I don’t think he even recognizes when he is being quite responsible, and it’s hard to pick out moments that are actually responsible in the show because, like I said, it’s sort of like the blind leading the blind. It’s basically them just trying to stay out of physical harm, so anything else that helps them out is sort of gravy, the bonus. I don’t think Ron is capable or set to impart any wisdom on these children.
I was wondering how did the idea of the show come about?
J. Berfield- The idea came up from our creators, Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman. They brought this idea to us way back when, and we just sort of developed it from an idea to scripts. Finally, we took it to Fox because I had some relationships there obviously, and they purchased it from us. It was exciting. It was like our first scripted show that we sold as a company at J2, and we couldn’t be happier with the people that we’re working with and the two guys that wrote it.
[Note from Me: In case you didn’t know Justin Berfield played the middle son, Reese, on Malcolm in The Middle.]
What show if you could find a show, a sitcom or whatever to compare it to from the past, what would be one pick?
J. Berfield- Visually and maybe tonally, everyone’s going to compare it to Malcolm, but I think story wise you can’t really compare it to any show that’s been out there. It’s a truly unique concept, and we’re excited that Fox and everyone has a vision to see this through because on the face of it, it is kind of crazy. It’s kind of out there, but they were behind it from day one. It’s not really a concept that comes up too much in the show, and it sort of naturally weaves its way into every script, so it’s not like if someone tunes in four episodes into the season that they’re going to be lost. It’s really easy to catch up on it.
Right, and Tyler, you have a lot of fans out there who are science fiction fans because of the shows you’ve been on. Anything you’d like to say to them?
T. Labine- Yes, don’t expect any time traveling or demons in this show. It’s a little more straightforward than that, but like Justin said, the concept of the show, this high concept or whatever, it’s a running theme on the show, but like he said, you don’t need to know exactly what’s going on. It becomes more about just the relationship with this guy and these children than the actual sort of hook, I guess. It’s an easy show to just jump in and enjoy, but no flying, no demons.
[Note from Me: RIP Reaper and Sock :D]
Justin, How do you like being executive producer as opposed to or different from being in front of the camera?
J. Berfield- I like it. They’re both unique in their own ways, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing and where I’m at right now. It’s a whole new level of stress. It’s a different kind of stress, but they’re both rewarding.
Are we going to be seeing any of the family of the boys? Will we see the father in prison or maybe any family members that come out of the word work?
J. Berfield- No one in the family the first season. That’d be jumping the shark pretty quickly.
Tyler, for you, I’ve read a couple of review kind of comparing you in this role to a Jack Black type. What’s your take on that?
T. Labine- No, I would never intentionally try to emulate another actor, especially not one that’s famous and famous for his shtick as Jack Black. I think it’s a nice comparison. I’m a little tired of it because I’ve been acting for about 22 years, and I’ve sort of formulated my own sense of humour before I even knew who Jack Black was, and it just so happens that he got there before me I think. It’s a nice comparison. I could imagine being compared to a lot worse people, but if anything I tried very hard to buck back in the other direction, but this town likes to slap labels on people, and that’s the one I’ve been stuck with.
[Note From Me: Tyler Labine has been fabulous since his days on Breaker High hopefully this will be the show that displays his talent to everyone. Jack Black is great too, but Labine is a really funny guy without having to ’emulate another actor’.]
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday, March 14th at 9:30 pm to check this great new comedy out. I know I will be!