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Ted Danson, Pete Davidson, Ed Helms, Lamorne Morris, Ben Platt and Chris Redd joined The Hollywood Reporter to talk about their respective projects.
LACEY ROSE: What are the types of parts that coming your way and you're just, not this again?
Nerds, tech nerd, computer nerd. Guy at the IT company, gay friend and nerdy gay friend. Best friend--
Butt head, drug addict, crackheads.
LACEY ROSE: Hi, and welcome to Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter, comedy actors. I am joined today by Ted Danson of "Mr. Mayor." Ed Helms of "Rutherford Falls." Ben Platt of "The Politician." Lamorne Morris of "Woke" Pete Davidson of "Saturday night Live." and Chris Redd of "Keenan" and "Saturday Night Live." Thank you all for being here.
We're going to start with an icebreaker for all of you. If a fan is coming at you, what is he or she most likely to say or do? What do you typically know in for? What do they-- what does it look like?
LAMORNE MORRIS: They're trying to fuck-- nah, I'm joking.
LACEY ROSE: Great start. Love it.
ED HELMS: That's an icebreaker.
LAMORNE MORRIS: No, people come up to me all the time and ask me-- but I was on a show called "New Girl," and they asked me constantly about my cat on the show. Yeah, I mean, how's Ferguson? So he's dead, but they constantly-- yeah, I'm fine.
CHRIS REDD: Uh, I would say-- I would say a large number of people come up to me all the time and ask me to tell Pete Davidson something.
LACEY ROSE: What do they want to communicate?
CHRIS REDD: I love you. You marry me. [LAUGHS] But through me like I don't have stuff to do.
LACEY ROSE: Pete, does he tell you at all? Does he deliver all the messages?
PETE DAVIDSON: No. Of course, not.
CHRIS REDD: I deliver like one or two, like the first-- like our very first year working together. And then I realized how many it was, and I was like, I'm done.
PETE DAVIDSON: I usually run-- I usually just run away because I'm terrified of life and people.
ED HELMS: I get people just scream nerd dog at me from very far away. And like across-- all the way across airport terminals or at-- yeah.
LACEY ROSE: And your response is?
ED HELMS: Um, oftentimes, I'll just do that awkward thing where I pretend like I didn't hear it. But then like 30 people suddenly look at you and they're like-- and then they start shouting nerd dog, and you-- I don't know. It's-- it's just awkward. There's not a lot of--
LACEY ROSE: Fair enough.
TED DANSON: I get-- I get a lot of people coming out and saying, my grandmother loved watching you on "Cheers."
I'll say, hold on-- well, hold on, let me turn on my hearing aids. Say it again. [LAUGHS]
LACEY ROSE: What about you, Ben?
BEN PLATT: For the record, I also watched you on "Cheers." [LAUGHS] But usually, it's-- usually, it's one of two things. It's either like somebody asking me about to do like a magic trick or something having to do with "Pitch Perfect." Or else it's somebody who had like a very cathartic Evan Hansen related experience, who immediately starts to cry, and ask me about like mental health and things that I have no real answers for. Something like that.
LACEY ROSE: How do you respond to both camps?
BEN PLATT: To "Pitch Perfect," I have like one little sleight of hand thing that I can do, but only if I have a the little scarfe thing with me. And to "Dear Evan Hansen," I just try to be like a good listener. I feel like I sort of weirdly became like mental health expert in theory because of that show. And obviously, all of us, I'm still figuring out my own shit. So I try to just be a nice receiver, and hear the experience, and not give any unsolicited or advice that I'm not qualified to give, kind of thing.
ED HELMS: Have you tried doing the sleight of hand for those people?
BEN PLATT: I will now.
LACEY ROSE: I love it. I love it. Ted, I'm going to start with you. You have played a lot of different types of characters at this point in your career. I think you played-- you've played smart, you've played meathead, you've played rich, you've played evil, you've even played Ted Danson. Where are you happiest, most at ease as an actor?
TED DANSON: The slow, dumb joke. That's all the right-- I work for Mike Schur. We were talking earlier. And it was like paragraphs of the most heightened Shakespearean language. And it drove me nuts because I had to work so hard for it. I like-- I like doing-- I mean, this is obvious, but I like doing drama that's funny. And I like funny that has sorts of either pain, or sadness, or some human frailty that's genuine at the core of it.
LACEY ROSE: How about the rest of you? I remember we had Hugh Grant on around table a few years ago. And he said no one wants to be the good guy. It's harder and arguably less fun. Do you guys agree 00 disagree? Where are you at ease? Some of--
PETE DAVIDSON: Fuck. Hugh Grant is full of shit. No, I don't know.
ED HELMS: No, don't start this beef again.
PETE DAVIDSON: I have no-- I have no idea.
ED HELMS: I don't want to go down this road.
CHRIS REDD: You've been having this beef all week, man.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Which one is Hugh Grant? Is that the gerbil guy?
You'll cut that out too, right?
CHRIS REDD: Crazy, man. I like playing the crazy characters. Then there's more-- that is more interesting. I was-- I was-- I grew up around a lot of crazy people. I have a huge family, like over 200 people. And there's-- we got everything, from normal school goers to crack kids. We got it all. And it's just-- it's just fun to find different ways to play crazy or play confident dumbs, where I love to live it-- I love--
LACEY ROSE: Confident dumb.
CHRIS REDD: --dumb person. Yeah, it is very stupid. I believe in every--
LAMORNE MORRIS: Oh, yeah. You're a bit on the SNL sketch with drug deal-- the drug deal. The guy trying to take over. That's who that-- that's who that is. That's-- trying to run an operation you can't do it.
CHRIS REDD: Once out of power with no knowledge of how to do anything. I mean, like I just love-- it's just so much fun to me. I love that.
LAMORNE MORRIS: I love playing high-- I love playing someone who doesn't-- who's not supposed to be high status. Is clearly a low status person. Like he's trying to up those-- that status for himself and that scene or as a character, it doesn't belong in that space. That, to me, is the most fun play.
LACEY ROSE: What about you, Ben? You obviously-- you went from doing Evan Hansen every night into doing the politician. These are obviously very different types of characters. Are you-- do you find yourself more at ease in one type versus the other? And if so, why?
BEN PLATT: Yeah, I mean, I think sort of where I fall most naturally is the more kind of wallflower, anxious, sort of like self-deprecating kind of a guy, which, I think, is definitely like more of the comfort zone. But because I did spend so long doing that show, and doing "Pitch Perfect" before that, and "Book of Mormon" before that, all of whom are sort of iterations of that same guy. I found that recently, I've really enjoyed playing people with a bit more aggression and a little bit more hubris and confidence, like pattenden politician just to sort of get to do something that I don't do in my life, whereas the sort of nerdy guys are much closer to who I actually am.
LACEY ROSE: What about you, Ed? You obviously-- I mean, there are traces of characters you've played before in this character. I think you described it some version of the sort of earnest, well-intentioned guy, who had some serious blind spots. Why do you think you sort of gravitate to these roles? And in this case, it's one that you've created.
ED HELMS: Yeah, I think it's because I feel so connected to that. It's so much of-- what I loved about playing Andy Bernard is that he just wanted so badly to do the right thing and sort of be the best version of himself, but he had so many hurdles. And just like gotten his own way all the time. And in a way, he's the very heightened expression of how I feel a lot. And in other words, I feel sort of similar to Andy Bernard, but just with better editing and coping skills.
And I think Nathan Rutherford in "Rutherford Falls" is a little bit of a slightly more advanced, more nuanced version of that that's a little bit more complex just because it's a more complex story. And that's what-- so it is definitely a comfort zone for me to play those kinds of characters. But I also-- I don't know. I also-- there's a-- I have an inner Don Knotts, who is always trying to get out. That is always ruining takes. And directors are always like, OK, let's pull it back maybe for another one. But I just I just love, yeah, being a really aggressively wrong character who's with some physical wackiness. I don't know.
LACEY ROSE: I love that. What about you, Pete? When you're working with the writers, what are the types of things that come at you and you say, I don't think so? And what are the ones that excite you?
PETE DAVIDSON: So few come my way that I do them-- I have to do them.
LACEY ROSE: Is that how Cuomo came up-- came to be?
PETE DAVIDSON: Yeah, I don't-- I don't really-- I don't really have much-- the thing about "SNL" is you really don't have much of a say. It's kind of just like, hey, this is what you're going to do this week. And you're like, Oh, cool. So I like the randomness of it. And I usually play very dumb characters. So it's very easy for me. But yeah, that's all.
LACEY ROSE: Fair enough. Fair enough. I am curious. How much of yourselves do you like to see in these parts that you play?
PETE DAVIDSON: Do I see myself in parts I play?
LACEY ROSE: In any-- yeah. I mean, this is for anyone who wants it, but we can start with you. Yeah, how much--
PETE DAVIDSON: Oh, my bad. I thought it was--
LACEY ROSE: No, please. Let's do it.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Go first, Pete, man. Say it. Say what you got to say.
LACEY ROSE: Say it. I'm here for it.
TED DANSON: Don't run.
PETE DAVIDSON: I, uh, I play this-- I have one character in my-- uh, they're coming for me. So I have one character that I've done in like seven years on the show, which shows how fucking great I am. It's called-- his name's Chad and he's very dumb. And every response is just OK. And I see a lot of myself in Chad because I have very little to say.
ED HELMS: I love Chad because he's so positive. Like he's just-- he's so game and up for anything. I think he's aspirational.
PETE DAVIDSON: He's a good guy. He means well.
TED DANSON: Pete, I just have to jump in and say, I love-- I love funny, which you are. But you've got an edge of danger in you that I find fantastic to watch, to be, no, I'm going to laugh, but also be a little nervous. To me it's like I wish I had that. Because I'm your "Run of the Mill" nice actor. You're dangerous. And I love that.
PETE DAVIDSON: Oh, thank you.
TED DANSON: I like watching you. Yeah.
PETE DAVIDSON: Thank you so much. They don't pay the dangerous.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Listen, Pete. People are fighting about your pay now.
LACEY ROSE: Lamorne, I wanted to turn to you. You obviously-- you referenced "New Girl'' earlier. You spent seven years on that show, which was sort of pure fun. And you've said, when it ended you wanted to sort of transition and be part of something. And I'm quoting you here, "That meant something." I'm hoping you can sort of expand on what you meant by that, and how you found that in work.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Well, "New Girls," it was just silly. That's-- that's what it was. I mean, it was cool. It was fun. It was-- there are a lot of-- there's a few different subject matters that we would touch on. But there's only so much you can do in a quick 28-minute show-- 20 quick minute show.
And then it would vary from episode to episode. So we would touch on little things here and there. I got lucky enough to write an episode about-- my character is a police officer on the show. And when the incident in Ferguson happened, I wrote an episode about that. Because I started-- I had a cat on the show, named Ferguson. I'm a Black dude that plays a police officer.
And I was getting all these tweets, like, yo, how does it feel to play a Black cop with a cat named Ferguson. And be like, wow, that's clever as shit, but stop asking me that. So I wanted to address it. So I wrote an episode about it. And then I wanted to get more mileage out of that, but you can't really on such a happy, happy show.
So when I was done with the show, I wanted to do something that kind of felt more authentic to maybe some of the things that I had been through in my real life, and some of the things that friends of mine had been through. And reading a lot of scripts, and "Woke" came along. And it was based on a true story. And it's about a guy who is a nerdy Black dude, who doesn't think racism is an issue. He doesn't see it-- he just wants to draw cartoons, and become successful, and keep his head down. And then he can't avoid it, living in San Francisco. It happens. All these microaggressions and these things. And he needs to-- he needs to express himself. One day-- the police, they rough him up a little bit. He has a bit of PTSD. And he starts seeing things.
Now the show is absurd, and it's really funny. But there are moments on that show, which you're not laughing. You're not laughing at because if you're a human being, you can identify with a lot of the shit that we're talking about. So that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a part of something more-- with more stakes, with more weight to it, but also can poke fun of. I mean, I have a racist marker that is played by JB Smoove. You know what I mean. So how fucking ridiculous it can get?
TED DANSON: And the Emmy goes to--
LACEY ROSE: Your character on the show laments, and again, I'm going to quote him, "Why is it that us people of color always have to stand for something, or say something in our work? Obviously, he's a cartoonist. You are not. You are an artist. How have you felt that same pressure? And assuming so, what has that personal navigation looked like for you?
LAMORNE MORRIS: Yeah, I think it's a responsibility if you choose it. I don't-- Black is not a monolith. And I sometimes feel like we feel like we all are going to jump on the thing. You know what I mean. If you don't know-- if you don't want to-- if you don't feel that calling, or you don't feel activated to say something, or you see some injustice happening. Or-- and if you have this loud voice, you don't have to say anything if that's not who you are. You know what I mean.
So me, myself, personally, I wasn't that guy at all. I didn't know enough, didn't read enough. I just wanted to be-- I just wanted to-- like book a commercial, and book a job, and be taken seriously as an actor. And then you start to see people listen to you. And again, your neighbor is going through something. And if you have a platform to say something about it, obviously with some sort of intelligence behind it and some resources behind it, you should. I think you should.
So this show is speaking on exactly that. This guy, initially he was like, I don't want to. I don't wanna be the guy who everyone's leaning on to speak up and say something. And I think that's fair for a lot of folks. But if you feel moved to say something, you should. And if you don't-- and if you don't know shit, I think, that could be the problem too. You could be putting a bunch of bullshit out there and information that's just false. Just like Ben was talking about earlier, about speaking on, you don't want to talk about mental health to the folks. You might have somebody running in the traffic. You don't want to do that. So yeah.
LACEY ROSE: Can anyone else relate to that on any level? You guys are-- you have these platforms. And there sometimes is this pressure to use them to say something, to stand for something.
CHRIS REDD: Yeah, I definitely can relate to that. I think just being Black in America on TV forces you to relate to that. I've always stood up and protested injustices. But in my work, especially in my stand up, I like to speak on some of that stuff. But I also like-- I also feel like part of our freedom is to be able to just create without having to represent something every single time we do it.
So it's just walking that line of representing your people and speaking to your culture, but also having the freedom to just create without being bound to an injustice every single time. Because sometimes I just got a dick joke, fam. And the moment that went down-- but that is just what was on my mind and what I want to talk about right now. So it's kind of-- as a part of the fight in being able to-- in having this voice and being able to balance that. But it's a part of the job, I think.
TED DANSON: Little confusing in that I-- not confusing, but I will say that I play a billionaire about as wide as you can get and as old as you can get politician. So I guess I'm doing my part by pointing out how wrong that is. But here's something. I mean, it's a-- I don't know. Maybe being White, my lessons are way different.
But I know that I have always walked around in the last-- up until about two or three years ago. My heart is pure. And my intentions are good. And I use that as an excuse maybe to not step out, to not take a look at-- intentions don't matter. Because you've offended, or saddened, or something's people by your behavior or your lack of whatever. So yeah, I haven't had a chance to reflect that in work, but I appreciate the conversation.
LAMORNE MORRIS: When you started, I'm not going to lie to you, I thought you were about to go full Liam Neeson for a second.
TED DANSON: What?
LAMORNE MORRIS: Full Liam Neeson. Like when you first started, I was like, Oh, no. He's not about to say he did something crazy.
Oh, good. OK, good, good, good.
TED DANSON: I think this is the forum.
LACEY ROSE: I think so. You just air it off here. Let's go. Ted, the good place is wrapped. And you very quickly jumped into this next show. Was there any sort of thought given to wanting to take some time off before jumping right in? And truly, at this point, how are the choices different-- and this is for everyone, at this stage of your collective careers?
TED DANSON: I always-- my first paranoid thought is, oh, you think I should take a break? I let people breathe a little before--
LACEY ROSE: Not what I said.
ED HELMS: Why don't you give America a break, Ted. We--
LACEY ROSE: We needed a break.
TED DANSON: I-- uh, I love the work. I love-- I mean, I love being silly. I love studios. I love actors. I just really love my life in this business. Really love it. So I don't particularly want to just sit back. I could pick a different-- perhaps, next time, Ed, I will pick something that's more far go ask them, "Cheers" or something.
But the opportunity to work with Tina Fey and Robert Carlock came along. And it was just for me a no-brainer because it was this different strain of comedy that I hadn't experienced yet. I don't know that "Saturday Night Live." I haven't experienced this as an actor. So I really-- and I think at this point in my-- I'm pretty much from damages on-- I'm slipping my career in, pretty much on damages on, I realize the important thing was to find the smartest people in the room and then ask very nicely if you can be part of what they're doing. So I keep trying to find the smartest people in the room. And Tina and Robert certainly.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Would you say you want to be on "Woke" season 2, is that right?
TED DANSON: Sorry. Yes.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Well, you heard it here first. I mean, we can hear you on easily.
TED DANSON: Yeah, what network are you?
LAMORNE MORRIS: Hulu.
TED DANSON: Oh, that's not even a network. I can do it.
LAMORNE MORRIS: 100%. It doesn't count.
CHRIS REDD: Come on down to host SNL right after-- right before it comes out. Just come on down the house.
TED DANSON: Scariest thing in the planet. I will never do it again. I did it once years ago, and it was just no.
You guys are comedy commandos, and you have a crap load of youth and adrenaline. That just scares the crap out of me.
LACEY ROSE: Pete, I've heard you say recently that this season has been a favorite, if not the favorite, of yours. That was not something you were saying a year ago about your comfort level at the show. What's changed? What's made you feel so comfortable on this?
PETE DAVIDSON: I think I was in a really different place like a year or two ago. And I'm not exactly proud of how I handled or was handling things a few years ago. And looking back on it, it's like-- you're like, oh, come on, dude. But luckily, a pandemic happened. And I got kicked in the balls, and had to sit with all of my immature, irrational decisions.
And I was so happy when they said that "SNL" was going to come back. Because I was just like literally sitting in a room with my own thoughts, and I was feeling really bad. And I felt really lucky. And I was really excited just to work and see people. And I kind of had a different outlook for this season, and kind of moving forward. And yeah, I just been able to have a lot of fun and just been really appreciative. Not working at all really sucks. So I was just like really happy to get back to work.
LACEY ROSE: Many of you were working during the pandemic. Finding delivering comedy during what is and was a pretty bleak time. Some of you had audiences that were not there. Talk to me about what that experience was like, cathartic, challenging. How did you guys feel?
BEN PLATT: I shot the Evan Hansen adaptation during COVID in the fall of last year. So we were one of the more made in voyages in terms of a large film trying to go during this time. And while obviously that is far from a comedy, it certainly took a lot of the warmth and camaraderie out of the experience. And added this layer of, I think, fire under everybody's butts to feel like, if we're going to go out on this limb, and go through all of this testing, and just put ourselves through this risk, we all have to really believe in what it is we're making.
And I think as sad as it was not to be able to touch the people I was working with or see my director's-- half of my director's face like ever, it was also really kind of a nice, I don't know, motivation to make it great and to make it worth it. To have everybody up and themselves from their families, and put themselves on the line.
And thankfully, obviously, all the protocols were very overly safe even at that point. Because again, we were pretty early on. And that was before. We were figuring out exactly what worked and what didn't. So it was like everything in the kitchen sink to make sure that everybody was safe.
So I'm definitely looking forward to these things slowly falling away. And I wouldn't necessarily say there's anything I preferred about the process of doing it under these circumstances, but I think there were things to mind. Most especially, that feeling of like there has to be a real purpose for us to be here.
And thankfully, obviously, Evan Hansen is a very sort of isolated and lonely character. And the story is somewhat gray in that way already. So thankfully, it sort of lent itself to that. But for people like Chris and Pete who are having to make crowds of people laugh and go out on that a comedically during this time, that is something I would imagine is very challenging. At least at the beginning, when you're getting your footing again, I would imagine that was a really weird feeling.
LACEY ROSE: What do you think, Chris?
CHRIS REDD: It was definitely weird. At first, it was nice because it was like-- we were out the house. You know what I mean. And I had started a fund for the injustice, for the protesters. And I had to do all the stuff on the ground that I could do. And then I was like I need it out there. Because there was no stand up. And it was the longest I had ever sat down in my career of comedy. So it was good to just be out.
And we had more space a little bit, but almost too much. Because we weren't able to be around each other as much. And there was like-- all those masks made it hard. And we do miss those 200 people that can't sit in that-- sit in those stands every Saturday.
But it was cathartic. It was a nice outlet to be able to have to create with your friends again, and show up on a Saturday, and see a crowd of people, and see those nurses, and make them laugh. And knowing that they have to go back to work, and maybe offer no sleep. And it was just-- it just carried me through.
I had started therapy in the pandemic. So I've never even met my therapist in real life yet. It was awesome. [LAUGHS] And so being able to work through my things and go and put that stuff to use in a comedic way that I've always used comedy for, it was fun. I mean, it's hard. And I would hope to never do it again. [LAUGHS]
LAMORNE MORRIS: There's still time, my brother. There's still time.
CHRIS REDD: It really is. I think as we got closer, and made me-- it raised a lot of respect for everybody I worked with. Because it was truly a fight every week to get-- to make that show-- to make that show happen.
LACEY ROSE: Ed, you sounded like you were about to say something.
ED HELMS: Yeah, and it's kind of what Chris just said, which is that we-- our show was scheduled to start the week of lockdown. So we got punted. And we didn't know if it was going to happen or not. And then a couple of months later, the protocols got sort of figured out and locked in. We were able to start, which was really, really exciting and cool. So strange, and so different, and so hard in so many ways.
But I think-- I think Ben was touching on this too, it was like the hurdles made it-- really enhanced the cohesion of our crew in a way that was kind of beautiful. Like it was so much more complicated to show up to work every day, and to get-- get tested, and go through all the motions. Everybody's wearing masks. It's weird.
But when you start making something that still feels funny and still feels good, there was a sense of like-- there was like a team spirit. And there's always a team spirit on a good crew. But I think it was especially heightened in this circumstance just because everyone felt lucky to be working, and respectful of each other's effort to step up and meet all these extra protocols.
And we had a lot of production-- our production really shrank because of COVID. We had a lot of big plans to shoot in different locations and on both coasts. And because of COVID, we really just-- almost everything was on studio lots. And that also had some surprising benefits. Being that contained, allowed us to be more creative and spontaneous in those spaces, whereas when you're taking a whole crew across the country, like you got to have everything figured out and locked down. There were just-- the locations that we used on backlots allowed us to position things differently. There were all kinds of weird little ways that-- that the limitations turned out to be opportunities.
I always think of-- there's a great quote by Orson Welles, I think. "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art." And it's-- I've always-- I'm just constantly reminded of that. Like, every time I feel like something's a big burden or is too much to deal with, like all of a sudden all these cool new ideas, and fixes, and opportunities bubble up.
Saturday Night Live is the living example of that. Like, it's such a-- the whole show comes together in a week. It's all imitations. And yet it's explosively brilliant every week, so.
LACEY ROSE: I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about these careers, and the navigation you guys do. Ed, I've heard you tell a story about-- I think this must have been sort of just post "Hangover," how you had a conversation with your agent and said you sort of wish there was some sort of training program for all of this. Maybe you could get together with you know, a big star, have brunch you know, once a month, and get some advice about how to sort of handle success, fame, next choices, et cetera. First off, do I have the concept right? Have I described-- have I described it--
ED HELMS: Yeah. More or less. Yeah.
LACEY ROSE: More or less? OK, OK. I'm curious. What do you sort of wish you knew? And how would it have changed the experience for you? And I'm going to open this up, so start thinking, everyone.
ED HELMS: Yeah. I think early on, like, you know I went through-- I sort of had this gradual build of fame or celebrity, if you will, until "The Hangover." And then it just became this astronomical thing, that was so unfamiliar and in many ways scary.
And so yeah. I don't remember that conversation, but I've often reflected on how I wish there was like a mentorship program for like, for celebrities or some way that like, to just help younger actors navigate some of these circumstances. There's just so much unexpected. And the industry is set up in a way that's just sort of like, sink or swim.
Like, you either get it, you either know how to do it, or you don't and get out of the way. And I guess the thing that I wish I had just sort of understood more early on-- and this is a little hacky to say, but it's true-- is just to like, relax and just enjoy some of it, and not panic so much about-- you know, I think when you have a big sort of step up in opportunity, there's a fear that comes with it in terms of making the right choices. And I got maybe a little overwhelmed by that for a period.
And it's not worth. It you just got to-- you got to pull back and take the time you need, if you need it, to kind of recenter. And it's-- we're so lucky to be in these positions. And it's like, like Ted was saying, it's so fun, what we get to do.
We get to do this. It's insane. It's such a-- it's like, it's ridiculous, and--
LACEY ROSE: What does it look like from the inside? I mean, as you mentioned, there was "The Daily Show," there was "The Office," and then there was "The Hangover." In what ways did that feel different from the inside? Were there-- was just you know, phone calls off the--
LAMORNE MORRIS: Money.
LACEY ROSE: Oh, yes. Seeing a lot of money signs. Got it. Yes. That's certainly--
LAMORNE MORRIS: Ferraris. Come on, Ed. Nah.
ED HELMS: Yeah. I mean, some people, I think, are really equipped to just slide right into that really easily. And for some reason, I just-- I was pretty-- I grappled with a lot of anxiety moving into that. And it's a lot of the stuff--
LACEY ROSE: Worrying about what? What was the fear?
ED HELMS: Well, it's a lot of the social stuff. Like, you know, the-- suddenly you're invited to things that are like overwhelming. You know, you're-- like, people don't realize celebrities also get starstruck and feel awkward at times. I certainly still do sometimes.
But then-- and then it's dealing with like, you know, your agents are suddenly coming at you with things that are exciting, but maybe there's competing things, or maybe there's like, oh, if you do this you can't do that. And then they're like, but I-- but I'm friends with that person. I think they're-- I want to work with that person. Well, you can't work--
I mean. Sure, you can do it. But you're going to blow this and whatever. It's just like, ah! I don't know if you guys can relate.
I feel much more, sort of like, I have much better tools now. And I'm just much more-- maybe I'm just more chill as a person. But there was definitely a period there, where I was like I want a mentor. I want-- I want somebody to tell me--
LAMORNE MORRIS: I think that's everybody's journey though too, because you have to learn yourself. You know, actors, you know from school I went to or just people I might meet on the street that say they want to get into this business, you know, and how do you handle it and how do you start. And I always just tell them, I say start by taking an acting class. And then the rest is up to you.
You've got to figure out your own journey to navigate. Like, even if you had a mentor, they can only tell you about so much. You know, they could only-- I mean they could show you some of the pitfalls, for sure. But you're going to walk through them anyway.
Like, you're going to-- and that's the best possible way to learn, in my opinion, because you know, I've made a million mistakes. And-- but I'm also one of those people that's extremely cautious as well. I'm just-- I tip toe, like, I tip toe that line of trying not to mess up.
Like, I don't want to-- I don't want to ever have to go through fire, fire, fire. I've made some mistakes, but like I learn slowly, you know, if that makes a lot of sense. So it's not like, you know, it's not the trajectory that I thought about when I was a kid, when I wanted to act. Like, I wanted to just go to the moon. You know what I mean?
I see Eddie Murphy on TV. And I just want to be Eddie Murphy. You know? But you know, I'm happy with my life. And I would-- you know, I wouldn't really trade it for anything in the world.
But it's slow. It is a very slow and gradual build, because I'm tip toeing, you know? And I think that's fair for a lot of actors, that they should probably-- they should probably learn by fire, you know?
CHRIS REDD: Yeah. Well, just to piggyback a little bit, just like the gradualness of this, of like, going from no one knowing you, to like some people recognize you, is so different than what you think it is outside of this. I remember the first time people started recognizing me a little bit. I thought they wanted the fight, because I was [INAUDIBLE] saying shit, and I was like, what?
Oh, OK. I almost beat up a fan. That is crazy. A little [INAUDIBLE] would be nice, but-- but it is-- but it is a lot of just like, kind of learning yourself, learning your triggers, and like, and-- learning what's right for you, because I mean, I'd had a ton of anxiety going to those like, the Emmys or going to these big events, that I had never even thought about going to before, before getting into this, and-- Yeah, but no one can really prepare you for that either. It is kind of like, you have to kind of be in it to learn what you like, and learn how to navigate through those things.
LACEY ROSE: All right. I think that's right. Ben, Pete, I mean you're both-- there's good and bad advice given, with regard to sort of how to behave and what the choices you make are when the iron is hot. You both are at these you know, been these points in your career where it seems like the choices are endless.
BEN PLATT: Yeah, I mean, I think I-- the only sort of bucket list thing that I had from growing up, I started working in the theater when I was nine years old, in musical theater. And so my whole upbringing and my whole life was sort of pointed towards the experience that I ended up having at 23, which was doing "Dear Evan Hansen," and getting to originate a role, and you know, to Tony Award and all that stuff. So like, there's a real sort of scariness in reaching that so quickly, because I sort of felt like, well, now is everybody done with me? And is that sort of like all I have to offer?
And you know, it's something that you think will continue to work towards. And obviously, I feel incredibly fortunate that it happened in such a fantastic way, but I think I had to kind of embrace the freedom of the sort of opposite of what Ed was saying, which is sort of like the limitlessness of that, of sort of like, now what I feel like I really want to do. And how can I continue to challenge myself when sort of the only real sort of hardest pinnacle of what I could have imagined has already sort of been checked off?
And so I think I've tried to allow my guide since then to be, you know, what are the things that make me really, sort of authentically excited, and allow me to work with people that I authentically want to be around? And I think there's a real desire to continue, especially when something is going very well or when, sort of like you're saying, when you're trying to strike when the iron is hot, to continue to sort of wedge yourself into these particular bubbles, or spaces, or boxes, that we're all supposed to be heading towards, like to really want to be a Marvel superhero, or to like really want to be an action hero, or like to really want a big dramatic Oscar film. Like, these things that like, you know, still exist and that you know, maybe I have a bit more of a foot in the door to you know, auditioning and getting in for these things, because of where I've been.
But I don't think that necessarily means that those are really the things that in my heart, I really want to do, and that I really want to strive for, just because I'm supposed to want to strive for those things. You know, so I think it's been like, riding that line of not being an idiot and you know, taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, but also allowing myself to really make art that I'm excited about, and particularly get to make art where I'm playing queer characters, which is not something that comes around a lot. And you know, as a queer person I think we're in a place where everything is sort of like-- much like a lot of the conversations that are happening right now, everything is swinging like really far in the opposite direction, which is obviously a fantastic place to start, where like everything is being really overly scrutinized, and every queer character and queer story we are investigating, and thinking why is this not a queer person playing this role, and who are the queer people telling the story.
And I think that's a fantastic place to be. And that's obviously the direction that I'm glad that we're heading in. But I guess my hope and dream is that we will eventually find this equilibrium, where sort of the number of people playing queer roles and making queer stories is-- you know, there's room for you know, all sort of places within the spectrum of sexuality.
And it doesn't need to be this kind of hard and fast rule. But I do really appreciate it, given the fact that there's been so much time where those stories haven't been told by the right people and performed by the right people, that we need to really kind of exaggerate to the other direction first. So I'm happy to be around while that's happening.
LACEY ROSE: Yeah.
BEN PLATT: Yeah.
LACEY ROSE: You just mentioned-- you threw out a handful of things that you're supposed to want-- the Marvel superhero, the dramatic Oscar role. What are the things that you guys want? What is that sort of bucket list item? What's the sort of, I've made it type of role? What does that look like for each of you?
ED HELMS: I think Oscar winning dramatic Marvel superhero.
I feel like that's out there.
LACEY ROSE: That's what you want? OK. I like that. I like just go big.
ED HELMS: And that I'm right for that. That's what everyone--
LACEY ROSE: For sure. Yes.
TED DANSON: Can I say something on the previous question?
LACEY ROSE: Absolutely.
TED DANSON: I-- you know, being a celebrity is kind of like being the five-year-old in a room, with all the adults staring at you. And you can spin that kid out, with all that energy coming that kid's way. You spin out. It's just-- it's too hard to handle all that energy.
I was very lucky early on, halfway through "Cheers," that i started doing Ocean Advocacy, and I started an organization, and I did all of that. And I realized somehow, I don't know why, because it's-- that if you take that energy coming your way and you deflect it into something you care about, then I became OK with fame. I became OK with all that energy.
And so I thank you for watching Cheers. I want you to come into the tent here and meet this biologist, you know, this marine biologist. She has a lot to tell you. Became a use of my celebrity and that energy. And that served me well over the years.
LACEY ROSE: Pete, you obviously, have in the last couple of years, all of a sudden there are all of these opportunities, projects, directors, et cetera, calling. And I am curious, are you able to enjoy it? Are you getting good advice, bad advice, about what to do in this sort of moment in your career?
PETE DAVIDSON: Yeah. I think I have a-- I have a couple cool people around me that I think give me great advice. And it's a odd, enjoyable time for me. I'm really looking forward to getting to do you know, films, because that's always been like my dream growing up. I think it's everybody's.
So you know, I'm just really excited to work, and meet cool people, and work with cool people. And if you get to work with your friends, that's kind of a bonus. I've been realizing that it's like, such a-- it's like the most fun you could possibly have, is when, you know, your homie is on set. So yeah, I think just being levelheaded and you know, just you know, taking advice and listening to it, is where I'm at right now.
LACEY ROSE: It seems like "Saturday Night Live," the culture there has shifted in that you are able to sort of take on these other projects and still be a part of the show. I mean, Chris, obviously you're a wonderful example of that. But people seem to be taking time off and yet still get to be a part of this thing. And so it isn't just a sort of launchpad. Is that true? What does that feel like from the inside?
CHRIS REDD: I think it's very true. I think that because there's so many places to get content, that no singular thing is a real launch pad anymore. It's just a collectiveness of a bunch of good work. And then you kind of find your-- people find you.
But it is nice to have that. I mean, I came in with the-- I came in with a couple of jobs already. So like, I kind of wanted to keep that up. That was like, kind of one of my things. You know, I got to be able to stand up and I got to be able to you know, do a couple of things here and there, in the summer at least.
And it has been nice to be able to do both. I don't sleep now. Like, I haven't slept since last year. But you know, I was broke until I was 30, man. So I don't need to sleep.
LAMORNE MORRIS: That's unhealthy, brother. Take a nap, man.
CHRIS REDD: I'm going to take a nap after this. But then I get up and write, you know what I mean? It's just-- it's-- I think this year is definitely different, because of just how chaotic it's been with COVID and everything. But--
LACEY ROSE: And you are flying cross country during it, to do "Kenan."
CHRIS REDD: We would fly in on Friday night and get there on Saturday morning, and then sleep, and then come into the studio and rehearse a couple of times, and do the show, and fly out Sunday at 8:00 AM back, and then we'd shoot the whole week, doing "Kenan." We're hoping to not have to do that again. But it was very dope to-- like Pete was saying, to be working with your friends, because it wasn't work.
I mean, me-- Kenan is like my brother, so-- and we were able to create this closeness with the entire cast, that it was just kind of like playing all day, and then flying in, seeing Pete, and then being able to play, and then flying back out. It was-- I mean it was just like, I was constantly hanging out with my friends on set. And I was tired, but it's like, I was also felt real fortunate because there was a lot of people that weren't able to work, you know.
LACEY ROSE: And Kenan's been on that show for what, 18 seasons now? What's your sort of gut reaction at the process-- prospect of doing that kind of run?
CHRIS REDD: I would never do 18 seasons.
LACEY ROSE: How about you, Pete?
CHRIS REDD: Hats off, fam. Like that is--
PETE DAVIDSON: Yeah. I'm good. I'm surprised I made it seven. I'm ready to hang up the jersey. Kenan's like fucking Karl Malone out there.
CHRIS REDD: Yeah. I swear, I mean, he's-- he's a legend for it, man. And I think you can have that marker. I'm definitely-- I'm definitely having a good time, but it's definitely better than your first few years. I mean, had a good first year. But and then with my second year it was kind of wild. But I don't know.
I don't know how anybody could do 18. It's a boot camp. It's--
LAMORNE MORRIS: Tell us. Tell us here on this panel. I think it's a good opportunity to tell us when you're going to quit.
CHRIS REDD: Hey. I want Lorne to know that I'm--
LAMORNE MORRIS: [INAUDIBLE].
CHRIS REDD: I don't have a date in mind. I'll have to let you all guess. We can go around the table and guess.
No, but yeah. I think it's tremendous that someone stays that long on a show like this tough. I don't really have a year in mind for real. But I just know it ain't 18.
LACEY ROSE: Fair enough. Hollywood's obviously a place that likes to sort of keep people in certain lanes. I don't know if any of you sort of have felt pigeonholed at any point in your careers. But I am curious, what are the types of parts that come your way and you're just, not this again?
BEN PLATT: Nerds. Tech nerd, computer nerd, you know, guy at the IT company, gay friend, nerdy gay friend, best friend.
PETE DAVIDSON: Pot head, drug addict, crack head.
ED HELMS: Anxious.
CHRIS REDD: Upcoming rapper.
ED HELMS: Nerdy.
CHRIS REDD: Drug dealer.
LAMORNE MORRIS: I've always wanted-- like, I get nerdy all the time. And I've always wanted to be-- we were talking about Marvel characters earlier. And I've always wanted to be in a superhero movie. And then I get this call about auditioning for--
PETE DAVIDSON: Hey, you did "Bloodsport," man. You were great in that.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Thank you, man. So that's what I'm saying. It was "Bloodshot," Vin Diesel. And I was like, man, this is my opportunity.
And then I read the script. And it's-- it's a fucking nerd. It was a nerd in a superhero movie. And I was like, shit man.
LACEY ROSE: It's one step closer, though.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Closer and closer. But the pandemic started and no one saw it. That was the thing. We were the last--
PETE DAVIDSON: I saw it, man. I saw it. I saw it the day it came out. It was great.
CHRIS REDD: It was fire, bro. You did a good job, cuz.
PETE DAVIDSON: And you had a different accent and shit.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Yeah. I had a British accent.
PETE DAVIDSON: And you looked like you had to eat a lot of ramen too. I was like, Lamorne's eating the shit out of that ramen.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Yeah. Yeah. That's all they had on set. Vin runs a tight ship. He took all the budget.
LACEY ROSE: What about you, Ed?
ED HELMS: Yeah, I get a lot of offers to be sort of like, wound up jerks, or like, like-- or not jerks, just sort of like, douchy guys who mean well. Which is sort of a thing I guess that Andy Bernard was. And I've been-- I have had a lot of-- I love Andy Bernard. I loved playing that part so much. But-- but yeah, I'm just sort of looking for different lanes at this point.
LACEY ROSE: I think that's fair. What about you, Ted?
TED DANSON: Alpha males scare the crap out of me, so anything where I'm supposed to be alpha, or manly, or masculine, you know. Either I'm really bad at it, which is true, or it really Bores the crap out of me, which is also true.
LACEY ROSE: All right we're going to end with, "I wish Hollywood would cast me as." We know Lamorne's. He's going superhero.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Yeah.
LACEY ROSE: Non-- a very cool superhero, I should say.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Extremely cool.
PETE DAVIDSON: I just want to be like, the fifth or sixth guy in like a lot of movies. You know what I mean? I want to be-- I just want to be that guy. I want to like Buscemi my career real hard.
CHRIS REDD: I really want to be like a Black John Wick, or like you know-- same hair, just Black, in a Marvel movie or in a horror movie. I want to really be in a horror movie and just be the killer, that would be--
PETE DAVIDSON: I also want to be a Black John Wick.
CHRIS REDD: Yeah. I feel a movie coming on.
LACEY ROSE: Ted?
TED DANSON: I want to be cast in something with my wife, Mary, and shoot it next door. It's all about location now.
LACEY ROSE: I feel like that's-- that's very achievable.
ED HELMS: You will have a pitch on your desk tomorrow morning.
LACEY ROSE: Correct.
ED HELMS: The next store location is the most important, second most important. Yeah, I don't know. Sorry.
PETE DAVIDSON: Ted wants to be John Wick. I think we all want to be John Wick.
TED DANSON: Just a white John Wick.
PETE DAVIDSON: Yeah.
TED DANSON: Any-- actually, any ethnic background John Wick will-- I'll be fine.
CHRIS REDD: I want to play an Asian schoolgirl, that's what I want to do.
TED DANSON: Oh. Oh, shoot. Yeah. Me too.
LACEY ROSE: Ben?
BEN PLATT: I have a lot of friends that I like to make stuff with. My best friend, Beanie Feldstein, and my friend Molly Gordon, and my boyfriend, Noah Gavin, and we'd love to make something together, preferably some sort of comedy film. That would be my dream to make something with my people, for sure.
TED DANSON: Molly as in Brian and Jessie, Molly?
BEN PLATT: Yes. She's been my best friend since I was like four years old.
TED DANSON: Give her-- give her my love. We--
BEN PLATT: I will. She's coming over right after this. I will.
TED DANSON: That's crazy. I love that.
LACEY ROSE: Are you actually actively going to make something?
BEN PLATT: We are, yeah. We are developing something. We made this short called "Theater Camp," that's on YouTube, you can find it, about basically a very abusive theater teacher, who's based on the ones that we grew up with. And so we're-- we're adapting that into a feature, which will be really fun.
LACEY ROSE: And Ed? "I wish Hollywood would cast me as."
ED HELMS: Uh. I don't know how realistic this is, but I've always wanted to be like, a Martini being like, debonair, super villain and/or hero, like a-- like a James Bond. Come on Hollywood.
PETE DAVIDSON: Come on, man.
CHRIS REDD: Hollywood. Get it together, Hollywood.
ED HELMS: How is this not James Bond?
LAMORNE MORRIS: Well, you look like you're the boys, Hollywood. You look good right now, man, with your special futuristic camera.
CHRIS REDD: Classy. Honestly, you have a James Bond camera right now.
ED HELMS: It's all about the camera. If you use the right camera, anybody can be James Bond.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Shit's fucked up, man.
TED DANSON: I think we should make a movie called "The Roundtable," and it's us. It's us. We're the cast.
LAMORNE MORRIS: Absolutely. I'm down.
CHRIS REDD: I'm down.
PETE DAVIDSON: I don't want anything to do with it.
TED DANSON: Perfect. Perfect. That'll be the first line.
LACEY ROSE: Perfect. Well, thank you all for being part of this. I've enjoyed all of your company. And I hope to actually do this in person one of these days.
But in the meantime, great camera Ed. Thank you, everybody. Pleasure meeting you all.
TED DANSON: Lacey, good job. Nice to meet you all.
ED HELMS: Yeah.