Of course, it's not totally there yet (I voiced some concerns here in my Q&A with star Maya Rudolph), but there's one element of the show that's still making me laugh out loud and root for it to find its legs: the adorable, foul-mouthed, totally realistic couple at the heart of the story.
Regan (Christina Applegate) is a new mom who's readjusting to life back at work, and Chris (Will Arnett) is her supportive husband who quits his cushy job as a lawyer to be a stay-at-home dad. I've said it before, and I'm saying it again -- it's the best, most endearing and most normal I've seen both Applegate and Arnett in a long time (premieres Wed., Sept. 14, 10PM ET on NBC; moves to its regular time Wed., Sept. 21, 8PM ET).
I caught up with Arnett to hear all about his new gig imitating his real life, why his character Chris is nothing like Gob Bluth and some show secrets that are even more under wraps than the plot of that 'Arrested Development' movie.
And speaking of that movie, I'm kind of over speaking about it (just happen already!), so I went for some really advanced scoop and asked him about the eventual 'Up All Night' movie instead. "Great!," he said with a laugh. "Who's playing me?"
He also talked about his ideas for corporate synergy (short answer: all Arnett, all night), working with "talent robot" Jon Hamm for Season 2 of 'Todd Margaret' and tumors ... but not the kind you're thinking of.
Nick Cannon joining the show has been kind of a hot topic.
He's awesome -- he's such a nice guy. You know, it's funny, you read the stuff online and you get sort of mixed reactions, like "Why are they ..." and "What's going on? That's weird!" Like, no. He's a funny dude and a great performer and you don't even know what we're doing ...
So what areyou doing?
I don't know. [Laughs] I'm actually not authorized to know.
[Laughs] So what made you decide to do this show?
I read the script and I really liked it ... which is the kind of boring-but-true answer. I identified with Chris, I thought the story rang true, it felt authentic but funny, and I thought, "Yeah, I get it." For the first time I wanted to do something that was kind of much more of a real story, with a more naturalistic vibe. Often times those things, I'm just not that interested in. I like playing much more arched characters or damaged, kind of f***ed up characters. They're just generally more interesting.
I hear you. But Chris is so normal that I think that makes him interesting.
Yeah, exactly. I think that's true. I think he's a really normal guy. He's a very solid dude, and he decided that he wanted to be at home and kind of change his career path a bit, mix it up. He got out of his partnership at the law firm and he's like "I'm gonna raise my kid! And start making films or doing whatever ..." you know?
Well, and that's the thing. It's not that I don't love Gob Bluth or Devon Banks on '30 Rock,' but this guy is actually relatable in a way that those guys were never meant to be.
Yeah, they were not ever meant to be like that ... I think I identify a lot with Chris' experience. Like, "Yeah, I get that" or "I've said that," and I think that it's so much more representative of what the American family looks like today. You have a dad who's at home, who's the primary caregiver. And certainly there were big chunks of both of our sons' young lives where my wife was working and I spent a lot of time at home. We wrote big chunks of 'Running Wilde' at our house -- Mitch Hurwitz and I did -- with our son Archie learning to crawl, coming into the room crawling for the first time.
You've got two kids now -- what do you do when you're up all night? I mean, hopefully they sleep a bit ...
They do sleep, but you never know when all hell is gonna break loose. That's the reality. So you've just got to be in a constant state of preparedness. It's sort of like the '50s, back in the Cold War, with the guys who were out on the DEW line. That's an antiquated reference [laughs], but a distant early warning line looking out for Russian bombers. You just have to be ready for sh*t to happen.
[Laughs] Your children are like small Russian bombers?
Something like that, yeah, if we're keeping up with the Cold War analogy.
Does the network offer some kind of deeper daycare discount for kids if both parents star on hit NBC shows?
[Laughs] Well I'm not the star of a hit show, but over at 'Up All Night' we have multiple nurseries, since both Maya and Christina have really little babies. Where our dressing rooms are, there are signs everywhere that say, "Quiet! Sleeping Babies."
It's weird that literally every single person involved in the show has a baby. Is there a new baby boom?
That might be a new thing. The new boomers. Maybe they'll call them tumors, like baby boom two. "Are you a tumor?" [Laughs] Like 40 or 50 years from now, they'll be talking about, "Oh, we've got this growing tumors problem!"
[Laughs] Since this show is on NBC, is there a chance you could pop by '30 Rock,' 'The Office' or your wife's show 'Parks or Recreation' again for a little something? That's the ultimate synergy.
Listen, I don't want to suggest this, because obviously it's incredibly self-serving, but maybe there's a Thursday where I'm on every half-hour. Maybe we do a special night where 'Up All Night' is on Thursday, and then I'm just on every other show that night. What do you think? You'll just see me walking by with a stroller. And to promote it they could say, "You thought you were sick of this dude before! You're about to be supersick of him."
You are kind of everywhere. What about 'Todd Margaret'?
Yeah, I did a few episodes of that this year -- we just wrapped it up -- and I think it's really good. I'm super happy with how it turned out. David [Cross] just did an awesome job ... he really does everything on that show. He concocted this beautiful comedy gumbo on that, and I'm excited for people to see more. The second season really just rolls. It's a complex, crazy story, and a lot of it is David trying to figure out how everything got so f***ed up, and Spike Jonze and I spend all the episodes as these amateur sleuths who are really just moronic in their pursuit of the truth.
And you guys have Jon Hamm coming to play this season as well?
Yep, we've got ol' Hamm Bone in there. Hamm is just a multiple-threat weapon. He is just like a talent robot. Every appendage does a different thing, just comin' at you full bore. We were so psyched that he came and did it -- he was awesome, and he's a great dude.
Get him on 'Up All Night'! He's done about as many random guest spots as you have ...
I know! That'd be great. We have some wish lists for various things that are coming up, that are almost as tightly-held secrets as the plot to the 'Arrested Development' movie. [Laughs] We'll see.