I had the pleasure of chatting with former athlete and current rising television star Michael Beasley. Despite only following in his father's footsteps as an actor a mere six years ago, Beasley's feature film credits already include 'I Love You Philip Morris,' 'American Reunion,' 'Flight' and most recently '2 Guns.' Beasley's television work includes 'Drop Dead Diva,' 'Single Ladies' and he will be recurring throughout the upcoming fourth & final season of HBO's 'Eastbound & Down,' starring Danny McBride.
Mr. Beasley took some time out of his schedule of heading up a production company, a clothing line, and acting in various projects in order to talk to me about 'Eastbound & Down,' returning with new episodes on HBO, Sept. 29.
TVRage: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us at TVRage.com! You’ve had an awful lot of success as of late, appearing in feature films such as ‘2 Guns’ and ‘Flight,’ both massive commercial successes. On television, you’ve appeared in ‘Magic City’ and now you’ll be appearing in the upcoming fourth and final season of ‘Eastbound & Down’ on HBO--yet you’ve only been at this for a relatively short period of time. What can you tell us about your career before that and how you found yourself as an actor?
Michael Beasley: I was playing basketball professionally, overseas. Eventually, I couldn’t play above the rim anymore, so I had to reinvent myself. The next transition was to acting; I wanted something in entertainment. I got the bug from my father, John Beasley, who’s a film and TV star. He was doing a play in Atlanta and I would sit in with him when he went to rehearsals. I caught the bug at that time, started dabbling into it. I had a ridiculous beginning: I booked the first movie I auditioned for, I booked the first commercial role I auditioned for. It just kept goin’ and goin’ and goin’ and now, six years later, I’m working with some of the biggest stars in the industry. I’ve been learning from them on the set. It’s been amazing.
TVR: You mentioned your father, John Beasley, who has been working non-stop, recently appearing in ‘Treme,’ ‘The Soul Man’ and several other projects; is there any hope down the road for a father and son appearance on the same project? Is that something you’d like to see?
MB: Definitely. We’re definitely working on that. We’re looking at scripts currently and we’ve been trying to write some stuff so that we could work together, if nothing comes before then. It’s definitely in the pipeline.
TVR: Something for all of us to look forward to. So, ‘Eastbound & Down’: being a professional athlete yourself, how did the subject matter of this series resonate with you before you came on board?
MB: I loved ‘Eastbound & Down’ before I came on board anyways. I loved the show. For me to be a series regular on it is the ultimate dream job, because Danny McBride and Jody Hill--the creators of the show--they’ll let you, as an actor, really be who you are. Whatever you brought to the table, they took it and they ran with it. To find out that the way they did the show this year, they got Kenny Powers off of the baseball mound and brought him to what’s called The Sesh, a sports show that we’re running, so he comes on board and he joins our team. And that’s when everything goes crazy. (laughs)
TVR: As it always does on that show!
MB: As it always does! (laughs)
TVR: Well fans of the show love it because it has always seemed so electric and lively. It almost gives the impression that the actors on set are all trying to bust each other up laughing as they perform. I was wondering: has your experience on ‘Eastbound & Down’ differed from other film sets, to create that feeling? Is it just stemming from the camaraderie between the actors?
MB: It was different. We did a lot of improv. We had a script, of course, but there’s a lot of improv. I was laughing all of the time. The director would be like “Michael! Michael!” (laughs) I’d try to keep going. But Danny, he’s a genius as far as comedy is concerned. He starts and he just keeps rolling. The scenarios we have in this season are just so funny. I’m sure that everyone is going to be so pleased with the final product. We had a bunch of stuff… I’m excited to see which stuff made it and which didn’t make it into the show. I was asking the editors “how do you pick and choose what makes it? I don’t envy you guys.” And they said that if it’s not super-funny, it aint gonna make it. It was a dream job, to be honest with you.
TVR: It sounds great. So what can you tell us about your character Jimmy Clay? What can we expect?
MB: Jimmy Clay stays in his own lane. Guy Young, who is played by Ken Marino, he runs the show. He’s the lead host on The Sesh and Jimmy is basically his right-hand-man on the show. I just try to stay in my lane. He’s an ex-NFL player. He VIPs every day--he calls it vipping. (laughs). He vips every day. He enjoys life. He’s not trying to ruffle any feathers, he’s just trying to enjoy life and enjoy what he’s doing.
TVR: Without giving too much away, is there any sort of outrageous moment that you can tease us with, for fans to look forward to?
MB: Um… See, I can’t say too much. Just believe me when I say it is going to be a crazy season. I talked to Jody Hill’s parents. They said they’ve watched every episode as it’s being filmed and they said that this is the best season yet. I’m so excited for people to see what we did. We have Lindsay Lohan, she’s going to be on the show this year. Sacha Baron Cohen is on this year. We have some great guests coming on. It’s going to be an exciting show to watch. Marilyn Manson made an appearance. All I can say is, it’s going to be crazy! It’s going to be over the top.
TVR: What’s the next step for Michael Beasley? You’ve accomplished so much over six short years and this locomotive is really picking up some steam. What can we expect in the future?
MB: I never like to be out-hustled or out-worked by anybody. I’m always working on my craft, always trying to get better. I have a movie coming out called ‘Las Vegas’ which stars Bobby DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline… a bunch of great actors are in it. It’s a comedy, it comes out in November. It’s basically the old-man-Hangover. (laughs). I also have my production company Isis Ra Films. We work on scripts, we’re working on a really good reality film right now. I’m doing a bunch of stuff and I’m not gonna stop!
TVR: That sounds great! We’re all looking forward to September 29 on HBO, ‘Eastbound & Down.’ Thank you very much for taking the time to chat today.
MB: Thank you for having me, Adam, I really appreciate it.