Kennedy knows he’s not the only one who rocked out in a Puma sweatsuit in the
1980s. To that end, he’s headlining Kickin’
it Old Skool, a comedy about a teenage break-dancing enthusiast who wakes
up after 20 years in a coma to find that the more things change, the more he’s stayed
the same. With the girl of his dreams (Maria Menounos) engaged to marry his
grade-school nemesis (Michael Rosenbaum) and his parents drowning in the debt
of his medical costs, Kennedy’s Justin Schumacher must rally his former squad,
bust a move and win back the girl of his dreams. In conjunction with the film’s
release this Friday, April 27, from Yari Film Group, Kennedy took some time to
answer a few questions via email. The chat is excerpted below:
Brent Simon: So, I haven’t read your book, Wannabe, which details your early
travails, but did you at one point really pose as your own agent? And if so, how
did that work, and what did it gain you?
Jamie Kennedy: Yes I did. I did it because I was a good
telemarketer… so I decided to sell myself. In the end, I got a development
deal with MTV out of it, so I guess it worked.
BS: How did the screenplay for Kickin’ it Old Skool come your way?
JK: I went and found it. I wanted to do a movie about break-dancing,
a movie about a guy in a coma, and I also wanted to do a comedy — so I brought ’em
all together and made a break-dancing comedy. Coincidentally, the script was
already being developed, so we just kept rewriting and tuning it.
BS: So, the millionth-time softball: were you actually into break-dancing
culture as a kid?
JK: Yes. One thousand percent!
BS: Given hip-hop culture’s place of prominence within Malibu’s Most Wanted, were you reticent
about the appearance of revisiting that, and/or did you do any consultation or
work on the KiOS script to remedy
JK: A lot of people wanted to see more of Malibu’s Most Wanted, but this is a
totally different thing. I’m sure that everyone who liked
— it’s break-dancing, not hip-hop. It’s also more of an ’80s movie than a
hip-hop movie, and Justin “Rocketshoe” Schumacher is very different from B-Rad
BS: Is there any obsession or love that you’ve held onto from
your pre-teen or early adolescent years? And conversely, if time were to stop
for you by having fallen into a coma, at what time in your life would that have
been the most embarrassing?
JK: Video games.
BS: Were you driven by a performance instinct as a youngster?
JK: Not really, I used to just watch a lot of TV as a kid. When
I figured out what I wanted to do, by coming to
I changed things around.
BS: As one of the many young actors who, as up-and-comers,
have served as headpiece-wearing techie chatterers in their films (as in Enemy of the State), what secrets can you share about the
Bruckheimer/Scott production machine?
JK: Here’s the key: Always make sure you cover a shot from
17 different angles… and make sure all the characters are running in the scene.
BS: I loved Three Kings,
and you in it. But, David O. Russell: mad genius or just mad?
JK: Oh, mad genius for sure! He’s so good, and great to work
with. I’d let him holler at me all day.
BS: 2000’s The Specials
had a lot of now-recognizable names and faces in it, but I’ve also heard some
stories about on-set friction. Care to set the record straight?
JK: Sure. That was the first movie I ever produced. James
Gunn, the writer, lived with me at the time,
and he used to get into arguments with the director, Craig Mazin, who wrote Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4. I used to argue with Jordan Ladd because I wanted her to show
more cleavage. Rob Lowe used to argue with
to see who dated Laura Flynn Boyle first. I think Lowe had everybody first.
BS: OK, relive for me, if you will, the experience as an
extra on Dead Poets Society, which
was your first movie. How often was Robin Williams shaved?
JK: It was basically me getting in the movie theater scene. Robin
Williams would go to the craft service table and I would begin to harass him
with my highly original, “Hey Mork from Ork, nanu-nanu!,” because he had never
heard that one before. And after that, the first assistant director made an
announcement that “all background should not talk to Mr. Williams because he is
a very shy man.” Meanwhile, he’d always be in the corner doing Joan Rivers impersonations
for Ethan Hawke. And I thought, how shy is that?! As a footnote: I now know how
he felt, though. I experience the same thing when people come up to me and say,
“Dude, you’ve been X’ed!”
BS: Given your druthers, where would you like your career to
proceed — as strictly an actor? Writer-director? TV impresario?
JK: An actor-producer, and maybe take my chance at directing
To visit the film’s official web site, KickinItMovie.com, click here. There you can choose your own b-boy and battle it out in a break-dancing battle royale, as well as insert
yourself into the KiOS character
poster machine. Kickin’ it Old Skool hits theaters tomorrow, April 27.