'30 Rock' Star Dishes on the Show's Last Season
By RAPHAEL CHESTANG
October 26, 2012
As the final season of 30 Rock winds down, star Judah Friedlander spoke with ETonline on Friday about his favorite memories on set, his response video to Snoop Lion's Pocket Like It's Hot video and why he might be the hottest director of the year.
ETonline: What's the mood, coming into the last stretch of 30 Rock?
Judah Friedlander: Yeah, it's weird, because I've never had a film or TV job that's every week that's for seven years. I did that show Best Week Ever for five years or whatever, but this is almost like having a day job, working on 30 Rock. There's a lot of people that work on it for a long time ... They just started showing, at lunchtime, once a week they'll show a five-minute video of different cast and crew members just talking about favorite memories and working on the show and stuff, and that's when you realize, 'Whoa, this is stopping soon.' It's mixed emotions. I remember back to the first season, we didn't even know if it was going to last more than 13 episodes, or even go that long. So it's been fun.
ET: Have you been able to do one of those?
Judah: I just did one of those. I don't know when they're going to show it, but they taped me doing that a week or so ago.
ET: What did you talk about?
Judah: Just what we're talking about -- favorite memories. It's hard to pick one, but I talked about when I had a couple scenes with -- in the same scene -- with Tina [Fey], Susan Sarandon and Patti LuPone. On 30 Rock, I think it was a couple seasons ago, there was a joke about EGOT, which stands for Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony, and between Tina, Susan and Patti, they have an EGOT.
ET: Who's been the most surprising in terms of guest stars and comedic talent?
Judah: Could be Jon Hamm. It's hard to say. You know, [Matt] Damon, he played Tina's boyfriend for a while. He was hilarious.
ET: The show has been, for this season, very political.
Judah: Yeah, I think that's probably going to start dying down soon. I believe they kind of timed those things with the election, because that's such a big story. I think pretty soon it's going to be more focused on characters within the show.
ET: And you guys have had so many amazing guest stars.
Judah: Dude, that's been a pretty cool thing about the show -- getting to meet some people that are great and also legends in the business. Some of my favorite characters on the show are the recurring characters. Dennis Duffy 'The Beeper King' [played by Dean Winters] and Dr. Spaceman [played by Chris Parnell]. Those are two of my favorite characters.
ET: Do you ever get to toss out lines for them?
Judah: Not that much. The first couple seasons they would let me improvise more, but the past several really haven't been that way. It's a very tightly written show.
ET: Let me ask you about the video -- Pocket Like It's Hot and [your] director's commentary...
Judah: I'm giving you breaking news here. A lot of people don't know this but I actually directed Lincoln and Argo. It wasn't [Steven] Spielberg and it wasn't [Ben] Affleck. I ghost directed both those movies, and while I was editing both those films I actually directed this new video with Snoop [Lion]. I also did all the stunt work for the break dancers.
ET: You did it or you choreographed it?
Judah: Well, I did do it, so I did choreograph it also ... I also, in the video, I play a ninja in ping pong, and I beat him in ping pong.
ET: You're actually in a ping pong movie, right?
Judah: Yeah, I just did that on Wednesday -- Ping Pong Summer. It's an indie. It takes place in 1985, and it's basically like the Karate Kid but with ping pong. It was a lot of fun. And I play ping pong in real tournaments and stuff. Susan Sarandon is in the film and Amy Sedaris and Lea Thompson. I found out about the movie through Susan and through a ping pong club -- Spin -- that she owns, and they actually have one opening up in Los Angeles real soon at The Standard, Downtown. They have, like, a 20-table, high-end ping pong social nightclub opening up there.
ET: While you're filming 30 Rock, do you still do standup?
Judah: I still do around 10 shows a week, probably. On the weekends I usually go out of town. We film Monday - Friday, so I'm either filming or on hold and I do shows in the city in New York while we're filming almost every night. And on the weekends I usually go out of town, doing standup in different cities. Standup's always been No. 1 for me. Before doing 30 Rock, I would do about three to five movies a year - dramas, too. [I did] American Splendor, The Wrestler and did all kinds of movies, so when 30 Rock ends I'll get back to doing more of that as well as making some of my own movie and TV projects. But a standup album will be the next thing I put out.
ET: Will this be your first album?
Judah: Yeah, I've been doing standup for 23 years, but I'm such an unorganized person. I probably should have had five or seven albums out by now, so maybe I'll release a box set at once. I don't know.
ET: Are you eyeing any dates to release it?
Judah: No, I don't, because I've made a decision to self-produce it. And that's really the main reason I haven't put stuff out before. I want that creative freedom to do what I want with it. And as far as distribution goes, I'm going to figure that out later: whether I do a self-distribution on my website or whether I go through iTunes or go through other sources, I'm going to figure that out later.
30 Rock has just crossed the halfway mark in terms of shooting (they're just starting on the 8th episode of a 13-episode season) and are expected to wrap just before Christmas. An all-new 30 Rock airs next Thursday at 8/7c on NBC.