josh malina.jpg

Josh Malina: Big Shot

Big Shots, the new hit on ABC, is now firmly planted in the center of office water cooler discussion. The new Sex & The City, but for men, about men, and starring men, the series has garnered critical acclaim and also, a strong following of women, too. What woman wouldn’t want to peer into the minds of five modern men, flaws and all? Josh Malina, who stars in the show, is indeed a big shot in the industry, too. With star turns in The West Wing, Sport Night, and The Larry Sanders Show, among many other television appearances, Malina knows about male casts and the hijinks that ensue. Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan and Christopher Titus are just three of the resident hunks who round out the hit cast of his Big Shots. Here, in an exclusive to us, Malina dials in on the craft and comedy of acting, Broadway, and what cool means to him.

Lance Avery Morgan: I understand you grew up in New Rochelle, New York – the suburb in which Rob and Laura Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show lived. Was your childhood like a sitcom?

Josh Malina: Yes, my childhood was remarkably sitcom-like, because although my family occasionally had its problems, they were always resolved within a half an hour's time (counting commercials).

LAM: That’s cool. And, to you, what defines cool in a guy? In a girl?

JM: To me, "cool" is defined similarly in a guy and a girl. Self-confidence - owning who you are - is cool. So, you can be a chimney cleaner, a librarian, or a prop comedian, and still be cool, as long as you're comfortable in your own skin.

LAM: You’ve seemed to have mastered television, film and theater. Which medium do you prefer?

JM: Well, there is no comparison as far as raw excitement. Theater is the big adrenaline rush. Being out in front of an audience, playing off an immediate reaction is the best. Unfortunately, it's hard to make a living as a stage actor.

LAM: You do have some training in the craft, though you graduated from Yale with a BA in theater… what inspired you to get into acting?

JM: As far back as I can remember, I've wanted to be an actor. I grew up going to Broadway shows, and always wanted to be part of that world. I did school plays, camp plays, and community theater. So as a young kid I knew I'd pursue a career as an actor.

LAM: Is there one great acting role that you’d like to play – like Othello or Jesse James?

JM: That's a good question, but I don't have a great answer for it. I certainly never managed to play any of the young man roles I coveted. I guess it's time for me to focus in on the middle age dream role. I'll get back to you when I figure out what that is.

josh malina westwingcast.jpg

LAM: Tell me about your newest hit show, Big Shots. It’s been deemed the male Sex and the City. Have you drawn any comparisons?

JM: I try not to draw comparisons too much. That seems more like a helpful marketing tool than anything else. But if you twisted my arm, I guess I'd describe Big Shots as My Fair Lady, set in America, without the songs, and featuring Christopher Titus instead of Audrey Hepburn. Yeah, that's pretty much the show in a nutshell.

LAM: Are there any similarities between you and your onscreen character, Karl Mixworthy?

JM: Wow, I hope not, as he is unfaithful, terrible at golf, cheap, and bad in bed. Though I will concede that he and I are exactly the same height.

LAM: What’s it like working with such an accomplished cast?

JM: This is one of the most enjoyable projects I've worked on. I know that if I am going to shoot a scene with Dylan, Michael, and Titus that I will have a lot of laughs. We're like fifth graders. We spend most of our time bagging on each other, trying to make each other break on camera. It's remarkably unsophisticated stuff, but good fun. They are the brothers I never had.

LAM: Lots of guys on the set. Any practical jokes yet?

JM: Not too much yet. I did booby trap Titus' trailer door handle with a mixture of shaving cream and suntan lotion. In response he basically trashed my trailer. I am still trying to teach him the distinction between a prank and vandalism.

LAM: Since the holidays are a time to be thankful, what are you most thankful for this year? JM: As always, I am deeply thankful for my wife and children. My family is my world. This year, I am particularly thankful that the Malibu fires did not harm us. I am blown away that there are strangers who came to my house to ensure that my family and my home were okay.