Ken Jeong Exclusive Interview: Dr. Ken, Dicky Wexler and a Career High


SCOTT ELLIS (DIRECTOR), KEN JEONG, MIKE SIKOWITZ (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

Ken: Sometimes you have a good show or sometime you work with very nice people but the show isn’t that good. Sometimes you have a show that’s great but the people are miserable. We have something that is very rare, and we’ve all talked about it. Dave Foley and I talked about it and he mentioned  that there are no “divas” on this set.  We all work really hard and any intensity that we have all comes from the work and not from the ego.

Nothing is ego based it is all work based. And then when you have Dave Foley and Tisha Campbell-Martin who have done more episodic television than I have, and doing it for much longer, when you have them in support of me it just galvanizes the whole crew. And to have their “seal” of approval for me to lead this it really does galvanize the entire crew. 

When you have two comedy legends like them saying it’s okay for Ken to lead us, well I cannot thank them enough. The public may never know but we had a wrap party at the end production and I said to everyone at the party “Everybody knows who they are and we are all thinking the same thing; this is an amazing project and we are all good souls and we are the real deal and it is so rare in this business that both of those things occur at the same time. So let’s enjoy this because no-one can take that away from us. 

Dicky Wexler kind of epitomizes what is the best about “Dr. Ken”  and it definitely is a “watershed moment” for our show. 

MFT: As I’ve said before, I fell in love with the show from the first episode and I watched the  series transform into an impressive ensemble piece.

Ken: Thank you for saying that. That means more to me than you know because coming from The Hangover and Community which were both ensemble based and because I come from ensemble versus star driven projects, that was my goal  The title Dr. Ken is a bit of a misnomer because my whole vision of the show was for it to be an amazing ensemble piece.

I feel so fortunate that it has evolved into that as we have eight series regulars and that is a lot for a sitcom and we really try to service every character  every week. And where every character has been out “front and center” in an episode. And that has been so enjoyable, for example, from the Wedding Sitter, we have Clark’s relationship with Connor and that will be continued and explored.

And…there will be more to Pat and Damona as well, you may think its over but what looks like a fitting end to the Pat and Damona trilogy, well you just never know. That is what I like about “Dr. Ken”  you just kind of never know. 

Our finale is going to be amazing; there will be a bit of a cliff-hanger as well so we are really excited. So there is more stuff in store for Dr. Ken and also we have Randall Park from “Fresh Off the Boat” guest starring on our show and he was there on our actual last day of shooting.  We filmed our last two episodes out of order to accommodate  Randall’s schedule so the finale was actually shot a week before. 

MFT: Okay so you shot the finale out of sequence, and not at the “end.” I got it.

Ken: The finale will be, obviously, aired last however. There is a lot of that in television to accommodate people’s schedules. Randall is a really good friend and I really wanted him on the show so we shifted to accommodate everyone’s schedule. 

MFT: I cannot wait to see Randall Park on the show, as I’m a huge fan.

Ken:  Randall also has stand-up comedy background and that is where I first met him. We are such good friends and I’ll also be appearing on “Fresh Off the Boat” and I’ll be filming my part in a couple of weeks. He is such a good friend and I love him professionally and personally and just cannot get enough of the guy. 

MFT: Back on the ensemble bit, will we see more of Dana Lee?

Ken: Yes you will. You’ll see him in the finale. 

MFT: He is another actor that  I adore, he is  comedy gravitas…

Ken: Dana and I have a personal history, we worked together on Pineapple Express, he played my character’s boss and Dave Foyle  and Albert Tsai all worked together on an episode of “Hot in Cleveland” a couple of years ago.I’d met Dave before but that was my first time working with him and I was a fan of Albert’s already and at that I time I was just thinking of Dr. Ken and had both of them in my mind. 

Suzy Nakamura I’d worked with in Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” where we played a husband and wife in a deleted scene in the “movie within a movie” for Adam Sandler’s character and we had so much fun. It’s really cool I’ve kept everybody in mind that I wanted once the show reached fruition.  

MFT: I’m getting the high sign that it is time to wrap this up, so I’ll ask my two big questions. Have you heard if there is going to be a second season and do you really want one?

Ken: Oh absolutely. We’re happy to be ending on such a creative high and to have so many more stories to tell. We are all really excited about that and I just feel that Dr. Ken has been my life for the last year and a half. And it has been so fulfilling not only from an acting prospective but from a producing prospective and a writing one. I’ve really had a hand in more than one aspect of production. We are still waiting for approval for another season. 

But this whole thing has been so joyous and we’ve just had the time of our lives. And like you said, the show has just taken on a life of its own and become so ensemble based and I truly believe that it is the best multi-camber comedy on television. 

MFT: I agree. Now, leaving “Dr. Ken” for  a moment, I have to ask about something I saw on the Internet, which as we both know tells the truth about all things…

Ken: (Laughs)

MFT: This article said that you and Jamie Foxx have an unofficial agreement to work on each other’s projects. It this true?

Ken: Well that comes from an old article but Jamie Foxx and I are good friends. He’s a fan of “Dr. Ken” by the way, which is really nice and I talked to him a few months ago  and he said he loved the basketball episode and we were talking about that. We do want to find a project to work together on and I feel like Jamie Foxx is one of the most talented actors of our generation. He is so talented and he is so amazing with what he can do…

MFT: Yes.

Ken: So we would like to do something and its just a matter of schedules and finding a property. I think that’s what we’re working on.  He so amazing with all the things he can do. He is a musical genius as well and just spending time with him I learned so much from him.

MFT: Agreed. I’ve never seen him in anything that did not impress, with the exception of “Annie”  which I just felt like was a mistake all the way around but everything else I’ve seen him in he has just blown me away. I just thought the news of your “partnership” was, for lack of a better phrase, pretty cool. Now just to wrap this up totally. Have you any projects coming up in the immediate future?

Ken: Actually? Well I’m calling you from the editorial bay on Dr. Ken I’m coming out of an  edit session and going back into an edit season. So even though we’ve finished filming on “”Dr. Ken we still have  a few more weeks of post-production to go through.  Normally as an actor I’d be wrapped and moving on to my next project right now. But the cool thing about it is I’m here 24-7 for “Dr. Ken” just working on the episode and the edit right now this is my life at this point. 

The interview with Ken wrapped here and before leaving we spoke of Marques Ray, and his pitch-perfect imitation of Dave Foley, Ray will be having a Juan-Julio moment soon,  by the way,  and Ken thanked me for Mike’s Film Talk’s support of the show. The cast, Ken said, all appreciate the coverage “love me” for it. The feeling is mutual, this writer adores all who can make him laugh on a regular basis.

As mentioned way at the start of this mammoth interview, Ken Jeong took time from a very busy day and spoke freely about the show and his great fortune in  having such a brilliant team to work with behind the camera and in front of it. I will end the article with his direct quote about the quality of the cast  who help to bring “Dr. Ken” to life each week:

KATE SIMSES, DAVE FOLEY, TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, JONATHAN SLAVIN, KEN JEONG, SUZY NAKAMURA, ALBERT TSAI, KRISTA MARIE YU
KATE SIMSES, DAVE FOLEY, TISHA CAMPBELL MARTIN, JONATHAN SLAVIN, KEN JEONG, SUZY NAKAMURA, ALBERT TSAI, KRISTA MARIE YU

“It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast this good.”

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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