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Q&A with Danny McBride of “Eastbound & Down”

Be sure to check out the latest episode of State Press Weekly for even more with Danny McBride, including his favorite roles, his fear of being typecasted, and his new Conan-inspired fantasy flick due out next year.

The State Press caught up with Danny McBride, creator and star of “Eastbound & Down” on HBO, a show about a washed-up baseball pitcher who makes a fresh start in Mexico. With the show’s second season starting this Sunday, McBride discussed the show, its future, and the woes of wearing that hideous mullet wig.

The State Press: You, Jody Hill and Ben Best are frequent collaborators. Why did you guys create this show?

Danny McBride: You know when we first came up with the idea, I think we really kind of dug shows like the British “Office.” We like this kind of short format where they would just kind of come in and tell a pretty poignant, cool story and then be out before you get tired of it or bored of it.

That format kind of inspired us to try and create something similar. At the end of the day, we’re all good buddies and we just really dug working with each other, so the thought of being able to make up something that you can continuously come back to work with your friends and basically get paid to make dirty jokes, that just seemed appealing.

SP: What’s your favorite part about playing a character like Kenny Powers?

DM: It’s definitely not wearing the hair. The hair gets a little hot on the neck, you know, on the nape. I don’t know, maybe you get to drink and drive and not wear a seatbelt. Those are things that I think are pretty cool that you don’t get to do in regular life.

But I guess the thing I enjoy the most really honestly is the writing of it. You know, we spend a lot of time writing on these shows and it’s cool to kind of be in the front seat to see it come to life. It’s definitely pretty fulfilling.

SP: Besides the errands and the laundry and the credit cards that character Stevie Janowski provides, there is a strange aspect to that friendship. What do you guys think of when you’re writing that character and his relationship with Kenny?

DM: Well you know, with Kenny we took all the aspects of like a classic hero and we kind of stripped away all of the things that make someone actually heroic and then mutate that into making Kenny Powers. The same holds true with Stevie.

In our minds, Stevie is just the loyal sidekick who’s going into battle with this guy, but we try to set it in a world that we feel is real, so that relationship starts to take on other tones. Like, “Why is he so dedicated to this dude? What’s his deal?” I don’t think we have a hard answer.

Is Stevie in love with Kenny? Does Stevie have a severe case of hero worship? We just think it’s kind of funny to dance in between both of those worlds with him.

SP: In the past, you’ve said that season one included teachers from your own high school. Is there any part of this stint in Mexico that you can claim is true to life?

DM: Jody and myself have never been down to Mexico and spent any time with their baseball teams down there, so everything is pretty much what we pulled from our imaginations on it. But we like to try to embarrass and humiliate anyone from our personal lives whenever we get the opportunity.

SP: So no cockfighting then?

DM: We were new to cockfighting. Actually, we wanted to shoot the show down in Mexico. But the powers that be at HBO said that, for insurance reasons, it was going to be too much of a pain … to go shoot down there. We weren’t able to do it, so they pointed us toward Puerto Rico. That’s where we actually shot.

We fell in love with a lot of locations there, the crew was great, and cock fighting is legal down there. So we went to a few cockfights; it just was kind of crazy. It’s mind blowing, and so that quickly worked its way into the pilot storyline.

SP: There are a lot of similarities between the first episode of the first season and the first episode of the second season, and again between both seasons’ second episodes. Is the storyline for this year going to be similar to the first season?

DM: It definitely takes some dips and turns that are going to show their heads. But with those first few, kind of the way we were looking at it was “a man who forgets his past is doomed to repeat it.” It’s not by accident or coincidence that you start to see Kenny falling into similar situations that he fell in before.

It just all has to do with Kenny’s main deal —he’s a dude that’s fallen really hard and he tries to find the answers to fix the situation and he never really listens to the proper guidance or doesn’t really take it to heart, so until he does he’s just kind of doomed to fall into the same sort of mistakes and the same sort of horrible situations. There [are] traces of that definitely in this season — of him coming into situations that he’s been in before but not really taking anything from it or from his past experiences and just dooming himself further.

SP: Is there going to be a season three, and if there is, do you have any ideas or hints?

DM: We’d love there to be a season three. When we originally started the show, we weren’t sure if anyone would even watch it. We didn’t really know what would happen. So we kind of made the first season where, you know, if we don’t get the chance to do this again, let’s just make this something that can weirdly stand on its own so it doesn’t just seem like a half-realized sort of story.

But we always had a plan where, best case scenario, if we were allowed to do it again, what we would do. We don’t have anything concrete, but the idea was to finish it in three acts, you know each season. This season is merely the second act. The best would be yet to come next season if we’re allowed to do it.

SP: One more hard-hitting question — Little Debbies or Tastykakes?

DM: I’m going to have to rock Little Debbies. That’s the treat. Twelve o’clock at night, 4 o’clock in the morning or 8 o’clock in the morning. It is delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Little Debbies all the way.

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