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Tonight Jerry O'Connell suits up to cop a feel of his wife and baby mama Rebecca Romijn on "King & Maxwell." And you will get a lot more O'Connell come fall when his sitcom "We Are Men" debuts on CBS. A lot more as in ... he wears a Speedo. A lot. Jerry says that his wife will probably make an appearance: "She owes me. I flew to Vancouver; all she has to do is drive 25 minutes!"
We talked "We Are Men," parenting, "Stand by Me," and law school.
We got a clip from "King & Maxwell" of you frisking Rebecca. Did you improvise that banter?
The fact that I got to frisk her was great. OK, I got to feel her up. I got to touch her in places that I'm normally not allowed to touch as a husband. It was a fun scene and I think it was helpful that I'm Rebecca's husband, because I know if I had to do that to another actress, I would have said, "OK, I'm gonna poke you, I hope you're OK with this," and even I would have pulled back a little for fear that human resources would have been knocking on my door. We had fun. It was also fun because my wife is shooting on location in Canada and I got to bring the girls up. It was a good excuse for all of us to get together.
You must miss her.
It's tough because we have two girls, so when Mommy's not around, their hair looked a hot mess. They were wearing jeans and sneakers every day. You know, I just have a brother. I'm slowly learning, but my feminine side is lacking. But Mom comes home and they're back in dresses and all is well.
When we had our kids, she took a long break from work and was sort of content with staying home. I don't want to say I encouraged her to go back, but I mean, we really encourage each other to get out there. I encouraged her to start working again. When I came into our relationship, Rebecca was working a lot. I don't want to see her stop that because we have two kids. I'm able to handle these two. It's a lot, but I can do it.
That's a great message for all the husbands out there.
Listen, I'm awful in comparison to my wife. My wife is very good at making sure they do crafts, and learning how to cook and play outside and play with wooden toys and sticks, and I just turn the TV on. I'm the worst. When it comes to dinnertime, we have a choice between four drive-thrus.
Variety is the spice of life!
Oh, my kids love it, but now that Rebecca is home, we're eating a lot healthier.
Do your girls want to be like Mommy and Daddy on TV?
You know, one of our daughters sort of does well at dance, and when Katy Perry comes on, sings "Firework." Someone at school taught them that "Call Me Maybe" song. They somehow know all the lyrics.
Fun for you?
[Laughs] I love my kids. They're adorable. I'm not sure they have the wherewithal to be on the set. I love 'em to death, but they're nuts. They could go on a set and burn the place down. When Rebecca's working and I bring them to set to visit her, I have to get crew members to help me wrangle them. They're just nuts. And things are expensive on set and they're touching cameras and sound equipment. I'm fearing I have to reimburse somebody for whatever they break.
Do they get that from you?
I was pretty nutty but ... yeah, this is my first time parenting and raising kids, and I do look around the playground and compare the nuttiness of my children to other kids', and I would say my kids are the nuttier kids when we're all on the playground. I'm gonna incorporate chamomile into their diet, I think.
Let's talk "We Are Men." From all girls at home to all guys on set!
Myself, Kal Penn, and Tony Shaloub, who is hilarious, play recently divorced guys who live in temporary housing, sort of like the Oakwoods. They have a support system. Tony Shaloub is really funny.
Watch a teaser of "We Are Men":
Is his character anything like Mr. Monk?
He is nothing like Mr. Monk. I totally get why he chose this role. It's a complete, utter departure from Monk. He's also one of the great actors of our time, just to watch him prepare. He sets the bar high. He was up for a Tony. I'm working with a Tony nominee!
Will Rebecca pop by for an onscreen visit?
She better — she owes me. I flew up to Vancouver. All she has to do is drive for 25 minutes!
Can you talk about your character?
I play sort of a guy who is going through a second divorce and is very angry and has not found peace yet with the fact that these relationships in his life have failed. He's got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. I have to wear a Speedo every time we're out by the pool, so I've been hitting the gym a little more than usual.
I know, exactly. He's that guy. When they pull those out, they seem to get smaller and smaller as the episodes go on.
Is he getting angrier and angrier?
Yeah, it's a challenge — maybe the biggest challenge I've faced so far.
No Speedo on "King & Maxwell"?
No, I'm fully clothed and I was quite excited about that.
When did you last watch "Stand by Me"?
It was on television and I was with my daughters and I tried to watch it with them, and they said it was boring and made me turn it to Dora. So I didn't make it all the way through. I know when it's on TV because everybody hits me up on Twitter: "Hey, fat kid from 'Stand By Me.'" But you know, to be honest, it's a little sad to watch because River Phoenix passed away and his character passed away at the end. It's a little emotional, but I have really fond memories of doing that movie. It's a summer movie.
Did you all have a feeling it would become what it is today?
No, I mean, listen: We shot it over a summer in between sixth and seventh grade. When I came back home, my father said "Don't tell anybody at school you were in this movie because these independent movies never get released and no one ever sees them and it's just over. Just consider it an experience and that's it." I always make fun of my father for that. Isn't it funny when you think about it? It was just a little independent movie.
When your girls were babies, you did a year of law school. Do you ever think about going back to finish?
Our kids were babies and Rebecca was working on "Eastwick" and I was gonna be home for a year, so I went to night school. I just wanted something to read. They were only 6 months old to a year and a half. They weren't mobile — they were just sitting in rocking chairs and I had the Yankees playing. It was sort of a fun excuse to read for a year and a half. But I don't think I will be going back. It was a little more work than I thought it was gonna be. I always test well, but it was borderline a full-time job. You're basically reading really good writing. It's just that there's a lot of it and that's all you're doing. Everyone is full of anxiety in law school. They're chewing Adderall like they're Tic Tacs and freaking out, but I don't know, it just never got to me.
The "King & Maxwell" episode with O'Connell airs Monday, 7/15 at 10 PM on TNT.