We chat with multi-talented actor Adam Goldberg to find out about his role on the new Jim Gaffigan Show, why playing himself in his new movie No Way Jose might be his most challenging role yet, and much more.
You know Adam Goldberg. You’ve seen him in some of pop culture’s most beloved films and TV shows for the past two decades. He’s nerdy, neurotic Mike Newhouse in Richard Linklater’s ’70-set, coming-of-age classic Dazed and Confused, a World War II soldier on the front in Saving Private Ryan, a coke-addled, spoiled-rotten brat on Entourage, and Chandler’s bizarre roommate, Eddie Menuek, on Friends. He’s even voiced animals (Flealick in Babe: Pig in the City), and he’s also recorded music under The Goldberg Sisters moniker. So, with a career this diverse, what could possibly be next for Goldberg? For starters, a starring role on Jim Gaffigan’s The Jim Gaffigan Show, and the recent release of a comedic film he cowrote, directed, and starred in, No Way Jose.
We sat down with Goldberg to learn more about his latest ventures, why playing himself might be his hardest gig to date, and much more.
Tell us a little bit about your role as Dave Marks on The Jim GaffiganShow. ADAM GOLDBERG: I play a New York stand-up comedian who is sort of Gaffigan’s antitheses in some ways. I’m told I’m sort of an amalgam of various guys that he’s known.
What was it like to work with big comedic talents like Jim Gaffigan and Michael Ian Black? AG: I guess it would be no different than working with me [laughs]. I don’t know; I like to think that we’re all funny. So, it’s just like, funny people being funny around each other.
You cowrote, directed, and starred in No Way Jose. Talk to us about the inspiration for that film. AG: So, I hadn’t written or directed a film in about seven years at the time I began writing this. […] I wanted to do something that was a little bit lighter than what I had made, [something] that utilized the same, lighter, comedic texture that I had been employed to utilize in other people’s projects. […] And so I just really decided to kind of self-reflect. I was pushing 40 at the time and trying to find a way to tell my story, and also the story of some of my friends. The essential relationship is a somewhat hyperbolically real-life version of some dynamic that existed between my now-wife and I. And so, I was really trying to explore this idea of, what would have happened to me if this woman, who by all appearances should have been the perfect balance for me, kicked me to the curb. And to write something about a character who is on the verge of maybe deciding that he should just give up trying to be someone who’s capable of committing to a normal lifestyle.
You have a really big Twitter following. What are some of your favorite accounts to follow? AG:Marc Maron, who’s a pal, I would say Marc's is one of the more enjoyable Twitter accounts. He’s very, very actively engaged and very actively engages his followers in a way that I would be too frightened to and I commend him. He’s just generally hilarious, so I would say Mark.
In your over two decades of acting, what’s your favorite role? AG: At the risk of sounding pretty self-promotional, playing Jose in No Way Jose is a much less self-aware version [of me], which is in a way, a challenge. Sometimes people get the impression that playing one’s self is actually easy but I think it’s very difficult to know how to carve out a version of yourself that makes sense for the piece, and it’s very difficult to be objective about how to omit certain aspects of your personality and embellish others. In many ways, I found that to be a big challenge.
You’ve had parts in a lot of different genres: comedies, dramas, and you’ve even voiced animals. Do you have any preferred genre? AG: As an actor, I guess no—I like doing dramatic roles because it’s much less technical in some ways. It’s more subjective. There’s something about comedy that’s very clinical, and mathematical in some bizarre way. Whereas, you have a lot more space to experience things, and it feels like fewer rules oftentimes when you’re doing a dramatic role, at least something that’s a dramatic role in the context of a thing that allows you to be naturalistic. I like naturalistic stuff in general, whether it’s funny or serious; things that aren’t necessarily actually beholden to any particular genre, actually.
What was the first movie you ever saw? AG: I don’t know what the first movie was—I remember early influences, things that were exciting to me, like Rocky. I remember seeing that movie, and wanting to act and box.
What is something that most people don’t know about you? AG: Most people don’t know that I’m from LA and that I’m not entirely Jewish. I don’t actually know—I have not actually taken a poll [laughs]. My sense is that people often seem surprised by those two things.