#MCM: Adam Pally On Mindy Kaling, Michael Jackson and Jewish Delicatessen
"I really wanna take fashion pictures, you know?" Adam Pally informs me, striking a chin-up pose withZoolander-level gravitas. The actor is in New York, his original hometown, to promote his latest movie,Night Owls, the second of two recent indie flicks to cast Pally as a hapless pushover who comes out of his shell when he gets together with a unstable love interest. In this case, it's Canadian breakout Rosa Salazar, who invites Pally to her McMansion for a one-night-stand—except the place actually belongs to her married ex-boyfriend, who is also Pally's boss. (The movie's sole filming location, the house also acted as the cast's lodging for the 18 days over which they filmed.)
Pally is best known, though, for the lovable rascals he's portrayed on television, most prominently Max Blum on "Happy Endings" and Dr. Peter Prentice on "The Mindy Project"—and it's in them that he sees the most of himself. In other words, he's part bro, part Hebrew school class clown, with fatherly instincts and a confusing accent from a childhood split between Manhattan, Chicago, and Livingston, New Jersey. Off cable, Pally can sometimes be found performing in live improv shows, or else palling around on the Internet with comedian friends like Ben Schwartz, Gil Ozeri, Dan Gregor, Nick Kroll, and of course Mindy Kaling."Mindy called me a 'loki' once, which I think is a smart word for a trouble maker? I was very fond of that compliment," he says. "Or at least I took it as a compliment."
Just before heading back to LA, where Pally lives with his wife Daniella Liben, and kids, Cole, 4, and GG, 2, he made a stop at BAZAAR to talk about kid actors, his favorite spots in the city, and the magic of Michael Jackson on Ice—followed by an iPhone photo shoot of fashion pictures.
HB: You grew up here. What are your favorite Jew-y food spots in New York City?
AP:I love you for asking that. Let's see, I don't want to be standard, but that's what it is: Barney Greengrass. I could sit at Barney Greengrass for hours and hours. One of my favorite restaurants in all of Manhattan is on Ninth Avenue between 24thand 25thStreets. It's called Grand Sichuan. There's a couple of them around the city, but that one's the OG, the Woody Allen.
HB: I live on the Upper West Side, so I've put in some hours at Barney Greengrass.
AP:My wife and I want to move there forever. My dad, my sisters, and my in-laws all live within 10 blocks of each other on the Upper West Side.
HB: I think I can actually feel the family tension when I walk out of my building.
AP:After I put the kids down, I go outside to smoke weed on my stoop, and I'm themostnervous I've ever been in my 34 years on this earth.
HB: You once watched all of "Entourage," ever, as a marathon with Gil Ozeri. Have you been subjected to anything worse in your life?
AP:Yeah, my dog once tried to jump over our fence and hit her back legs and severed a nerve. For five days, she couldn't walk, and she was just pissing and shitting all over herself and the house. I would rather watch that than another frame of "Entourage."
HB: Would you recommend it as an interrogation tactic?
AP:Yes. I'm being callous. Jerry [Ferrara] is a nice guy—he doesn't deserve that. Doug Ellin does, though [laughing]! Here's the scariest part: Have you heard of the Bechdel test? It's this test used for movies that asks whether a woman talks to another woman directly onscreen and, if so, whether they're talking about something other than a male character. "Entourage?" 96 episodes of television and a movie—failed every test. They have no scenes where two women talk to each other, and the one time they do, it was a woman talking to a stagehand, played by a woman, through a door. They didn't even get to share a screen.
HB: I feel like your characters in "The Mindy Project" and "Happy Endings," which are the two reasons why I love you in the first place, are very much of one spirit. Is it yours too?
AP:Yeah, sometimes. Mindy called me a "loki" once, which I think is a smart word for a trouble maker? I was very fond of that compliment, or at least I took it as a compliment, and I think they also share that. Also, when Mindy gave me that role on the show, only a week had passed after finishing "Happy Endings." On a certain level, I don't think I was done, mentally, with that type of guy.
HB: Are you done with that character now?
AP:No, no. I feel like I could do something with that character any time. There's a lot of me in that character. It's fun to do. Every time I get to go back, it's great.
HB: Who do you think is crazier, your love interest inNight Owlsor your love interest inSlow Learners?
AP:Oh, my love interest inNight Owls,for sure. They're both crazy, but really, she's a bat out of hell. She's spunky.
HB: Who was your first favorite musician?
AP:Eddie Vedder, and I always loved Michael Jackson. I was especially a fan of that Michael Jackson movie with Joe Pesci, remember? That one where he has the little, tiny ponytail? Joe Pesci, RIP. Is he dead? I don't think so. It just seems like he is. Well, anyway, I was a big fan, and my parents took me to see Michael Jackson on Ice.
HB: What do you like to do with your kids?
AP:Eat Jew-y food.
HB: What are three- and four-year olds into?
AP:You know what my kids are into? This is bizarre, but there's a huge, huge thing on the Internet right now, where you can watch . My son's like, "I want them! I want them!" But really, what he wants to do is just watch other kids play with them. It's a real weird phenomenon. I'm so paranoid my son is going to come across a dick—it's definitely going to happen.
HB: I feel like in the hands of the wrong people, that could be really bad.
AP:Oh, it'srealnerve-racking. I would never put my kids in front of the camera. I'm doing a kids movie right now with all pre-teen actors, and it makes me pretty confident in my decision to never let my children act.I don't want them to feel like they need the laughs of strangers.
HB: When did you start needing the laughs of strangers?
AP:Oh, right away. I was the oldest in a Jewish family, and there's a certain level of, "I'm here!"
HB: Who would play Adam in the Adam Pally biopic?
AP:Joaquin Phoenix would have the best shot at it in an audition, but I would have to see him read. Maybe Russell Crowe fromThe Insider?
HB: What's your favorite TV show?
AP:"The Last Man On Earth," and before that it was "Review," and before that it was "Narcos," and "Nathan for You," and "Fargo."
HB: What's your TV pet peeve, like the show that makes you scream at the screen, "Dora the Explorer" style?
AP:There's a trend right now that really gets under my skin, especially in comedy—this idea that everything has to be uber slow and real. There's like four sitcoms about how it's hard to be married in Southern California. I hate that shit. If you can't write a joke, it's not a comedy. I don't want to watch a guy not want to fuck his wife; I want to see space, a big concept, the funniest people making jokes, shows with a hook. "Eastbound & Down" is one of the funniest shows of all time, and I don't think it could get green lit today.
HB: Any hidden talents?
AP:I play guitar, and I'm a decent basketball player—people like to play on my team.
HB: You're a triple threat. That's the trifecta, right—guitar, basketball, and acting?
AP:The ultimate shallow dude trifecta. I'm basically a chubby Abercrombie ad.
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