Mike Stretches his Thespian Muscles Playing Tim Allen’s Brother on ‘Last Man Standing’
From the MRW Water Cooler:
I’m just kind of curious why this particular sitcom and why now….? Was it that the script and character were too good to pass up appealing to your repressed inner thespian or something more mercenary? And how long does it take for them to make you beautiful anyway?
Was it at all difficult to get into character and perform in front of a live audience after many years of being yourself in front of the camera? Or does it all come back to you, like riding a bike?
I have a behind the scenes question as to your Last Man Standing spot. Seeing as Tim Allen does the voiceovers for the Chevy commercials, did you and he exchange any friendly banter as to why Ford is better than Chevy or vice versa? And were you nervous? (If you do get nervous that is) Most of all, was it fun? Can you see yourself doing another sitcom in the future?” — Questions from the Water Cooler’s “Ask Mike” forum.
A combination of things, mostly, people who know me have been telling me since the first Season of Home Improvement that I reminded them of Tim Allen. I’m sick of hearing it, and wanted to see if the comparison was legitimate. (In a lot of ways, it kind of is.) Ironically, it was Tim that suggested me for the role. I was flattered, and said sure. I’ve also been meaning to see what the sitcom world was like, and this – in my opinion – is one of the better ones on the air. I happened to have a few days free, and went for it. As for the script, I talked with the show runner beforehand, and we collaborated on a few key points. I didn’t want to play myself, and we settled on a version that made everyone comfortable.
As for my inner thespian – no, this was not exactly Shakespeare. It was however, fascinating. A good sitcom functions like a good machine, and the infrastructure is pretty impressive. Of course, the whole notion of working from a script is a radical departure from what I’m used to, and the level of oversight is shocking. However, the cast is first rate, and the crew phenomenal. Everyone on stage was better than me, which is both fun and annoying. Regarding my mercenary tendencies, the rate was paid to the foundation, and for that, ABC has my thanks.
“And how long does it take for them to make you beautiful anyway?”
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky..?
“Was it at all difficult to get into character and perform in front of a live audience after many years of being yourself in front of the camera? Or does it all come back to you, like riding a bike?”
It comes back, fast. It’s not the live audience that’s challenging though – they’re easy. It’s the fact that you have to trust the other people on stage to do what you think they’re going to do and of course, the understanding that they are trusting you to do the same. That’s the real challenge.
“I have a behind the scenes question as to your Last Man Standing spot. Seeing as Tim Allen does the voiceovers for the Chevy commercials, did you and he exchange any friendly banter as to why Ford is better than Chevy or vice versa?”
Frankly, we laughed ourselves sick talking about damn near everything. They guy is genuinely funny pretty much round the clock, and smarter that I assumed. He’s also passionate about a lot of the same stuff I care about, and we missed most of our cues because we were completely distracted backstage by a wide variety of irrelevant topics. Regarding Ford and Chevy, our experiences are weirdly simpatico. A lot of what he told me I can’t really share, but mostly, Tim seems to have a real appreciation for the business of making things, more than he does a particular make or model.
“And were you nervous? (If you do get nervous that is) Most of all, was it fun? Can you see yourself doing another sitcom in the future?”
Sure. It’s a different set of muscles, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. Aside from Tim, I was working with Robert Forster, one of my favorite actors ever. (See the Descendants, if you haven’t.) He was tremendous, and working with him was really pretty amazing. Absolutely.
Let’s see how this one plays. Never say never.
*Mike plays Tim Allen’s brother, “Jim Baxter” and Robert Forster, from the Oscar-nominated film The Descendants plays their Dad. Frankie Muniz also is a guest on the episode as a bank loan officer. The show is set to air on February 21, 2012.
Check out some behind the scenes photos from the taping – HERE