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Eastbound & Down Season Four Premiere Preview: “Chapter 22” [Michael Beasley Q&A] 

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Eastbound & Down returns to HBO for its fourth and final season tonight.

From HBO:

In the third season of EASTBOUND & DOWN, which concluded in April 2012, Kenny Powers finally made it back to the majors and recaptured his former glory, only to fake his own death and run back home to his beloved April, the mother of his child. The upcoming fourth season picks up the action several years later and finds Kenny living the American Dream with his family in North Carolina.

We have clips from the premiere (“Chapter 22”), but before we get to the sneak peeks, our own Melissa Friedman had the chance to talk with actor Michael Beasley. Beasley will be a series regular in the fourth season of Eastbound & Down. He’s playing Jimmy Clay, an ex-NFL player, but if he looks familiar, you might also know him from his recurring role on the recently canceled Starz drama, Magic City — the show that starred Jeffrey Dean Morgan. His TV credits also include Necessary Roughness, One Tree Hill, Burn Notice and Army Wives.

Beasley spoke to TV Goodness about joining Eastbound & Down, why he’s known as the King of Hollywood South and gave us the details of a special moment that happened courtesy of Oscar and recent Emmy-winner Michael Douglas.

TV GOODNESS:  Can you tell me a little bit about Eastbound & Down and the character you are going to be playing this season?

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MICHAEL BEASLEY: This season is going to be crazy as usual. I play Jimmy Clay who is an ex-NFL Pro Bowl-er and now he’s on the [sports talk] show called “The Sesh.” And Ken Marino, who plays Guy Young, essentially hosts the show and I’m his right hand man. So we are a successful television show that has been around for six years and then Guy Young invites Kenny Powers to see the show and be part of the show.  And Kenny Powers [played by creator/star Danny McBride] starts, of course, to take over the show (laughs) and the rest is history. It’s fun, it’s a really crazy time. It’s a round about way of him making a comeback from Jersey and be part of the limelight.

TV GOODNESS: And how do your characters interact?

MICHAEL: Well, basically, Kenny is one of the co-hosts on the show.  And my character tries not to do too much or too little. He loves his job and he is happy every day. He loves the VIP, we call it pimping.  He loves to party and stuff like that.  He doesn’t want to upstage anybody.  He knows that if you upstage Guy Young it could be a problem so, and Kenny, he tries to upstage everybody.  And as far as our characters are concerned, we’re all a part of the show and Kenny kind of destroys everything.

TV GOODNESS:  I wanted to ask you why you are called the ‘King of Hollywood South?’ Where did that come from? I thought it was interesting.

MICHAEL: Well, first of all, I’ve done about 44 projects in five/six years’ time and it’s all out of the South. From Georgia to Louisiana to Florida to North Carolina. I haven’t done anything out of L.A. or New York yet.  How it came about:  Denzel Washington actually cast me in my first speaking role which was the Great Debaters. And then I worked with him again a couple years later in Flight.  And then got a chance to get to work with him again a couple of months later in 2 Guns.  So when we were on set for 2 Guns, he was like, ‘Man, this dude is everywhere.’ He (Denzel) asked if I was based out of Atlanta and I said yes.  Then he asked if I was trying to make myself out west. So I said, you know, I’m trying. Denzel said, ‘You are like the King of the South, huh?’

TV GOODNESS:  Not too shabby.

MICHAEL: I told someone else that story and it just kind of stuck. When Denzel talks, people listen.

TV GOODNESS: Not too shabby getting your first speaking role with him and then him knowing who you are. Not a bad thing at all.

MICHAEL:  You know, when he said it, it hit me at different levels. I thought that’s cool. For him to say that, if Denzel Washington is going to say anything…

TV GOODNESS:  Anything Denzel says — it’s it.

MICHAEL:  I got a chance to work with his wife a couple of months ago in a play in Atlanta.  And we got to see each other again.

TV GOODNESS:   That’s great. I know we are talking about Eastbound & Down but is there a particular television project, that you fell in love with and connected to the most out of all the stuff you’ve done in such a short period of time?

MICHAEL:  I don’t know if I would say I was connected to it but with Eastbound and Down — it was like a dream job because of the people I’m working with.  Because I think [creators] Jody Hill and Danny McBride are geniuses, the way they push the button, and the way HBO allows them to push the button on a lot of topics. They just do it constantly. And then I got the chance to work with Bobby DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline in [the movie] Last Vegas, which comes out November 1. They’ve been in a couple of things in their lifetime. I got a chance to learn from them.

TV GOODNESS:  Never heard of those guys, ever!

MICHAEL: (Laughs)

TV GOODNESS:  That must have been a fun shoot though.

MICHAEL:  Oh man..I actually had an out-of-body experience when I brought my wife to the set — her name is Deena Beasley — she’s an actor as well.  I wanted for her to meet everybody.  Michael Douglas went by Bobby DeNiro and I didn’t get to meet Bobby the day before. And I said ‘Michael, I wanted to introduce you to my wife.’ [He said]  ‘Well, wait a minute, I will in a second, but first, did you meet Bobby yet?’  I said no. He [Michael Douglas] said, ‘This is Bobby DeNiro, this is Michael Beasley, and he’s such a great actor.’ This is Michael “Wall Street” Douglas. I turned into Charlie Brown after that:  Wa, Wa, Wa. (Laughs)

TV GOODNESS:  Have you and your wife worked together?  If not, do you want to do a project together?

MICHAEL:  Me and you?

TV GOODNESS: (laughs) No, you and your wife!

MICHAEL:  We have done several commercials, stuff like that together. We haven’t actually done a film project together. We’re in a movie together called Mystic Rising but we are not in the same scenes or anything like that.  Yeah, I’d love to work with her. And my father is a movie star, John Beasley. He’s currently in [TV Land’s] The Soul Man with Cedric the Entertainer. We’re working on projects right now to finally make that happen.  Everything is about timing but it’s going to happen though.

TV GOODNESS:  I know you are kind of a busy guy but do you have a TV show that you like to watch?

MICHAEL: I love Magic City, even before I was on it.  I loved the beauty of how they shot it.  I look at The Walking Dead. I also look at Boardwalk Empire. I also love [Marvel’s] Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m always looking and studying up on stuff, to see what works and what doesn’t work. I’m always looking at something but those are the shows that I really watch.

TV GOODNESS:  I also read that you played basketball and saw your dad in a play and decided, you know what, I think this is what I want to do.  Can you talk a little bit about how you got started?

MICHAEL:  I actually did a play with my father once, when I was in high school called Death of a Salesman and played Biff Loman and I was pretty stiff at that time. I thought I did a decent job for not ever doing it. And then I decided to play basketball and I wanted to focus on that. To play at the pro level is difficult in itself, so you really have to make a lot of sacrifices. So I just wanted to really focus on that. And then, later in my career, when I couldn’t play above the rim and more…and like you said…I saw my father. My father was doing a play in Atlanta and one of the actors didn’t come to rehearsal so I would sit in and read his role. And so, I caught the bug at that time. I was terrible then too and said I want to dabble in this further. And a couple of years later, I took a couple of classes. But my father really gave me the foundation for becoming a great actor by telling me that everything is about competition, he would let me do reads and just gave me a great foundation. But when I went out there; I basically used the stuff I did in basketball — as far as the determination and the hard work you do for basketball –for my acting. I study all the time. I was always trying to better my craft. Basically, my career has been like a Hollywood story.  I am doing what I’m doing in Atlanta, Georgia and I just fly back and forth…

TV GOODNESS:  Besides the film with those actors no one has ever heard of (laughs) and Eastbound & Down, what’s coming up for you?

MICHAEL: Well, I have more of a recurring role in this AMC pilot. It’s its first sci-fi film called Line of Sight. It’s going to be amazing. So right now it’s a pilot and other than that, I’m in a couple of episodes of [VH1’s] Single Ladies. And I’m also working on my own projects. I got a movie and some TV shows that we are developing right now. I have my own production company so I can learn the other side of that.  I try to stay busy and try to stay relevant.

TV GOODNESS:  For those who haven’t watched before, why should people tune into Eastbound & Down?

MICHAEL:  People should connect to it because it’s a funny show. It’s an over-the-top show. Will Ferrell executive produces the show. So with Will Ferrell you understand how crazy it is. It’s a funny show about Kenny Powers, who basically says, politically, all the wrong things. Things that we want to say but he just says. It’s just a funny show, man. Do yourself a favor by checking it out. And everybody I told to watch it before is now hooked on it. So I will give you some behind the scenes:  We talked to Jody Hill’s parents who is one of creators and directors of the show. His parents said we’ve been to every set, we’ve seen every show and the stuff you guys are doing this year will be phenomenal. And I’m excited about it.

The Eastbound & Down season four premiere airs tonight at 10/9c on HBO.

Season Four Trailer

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Connect with Eastbound & Down Online
Check out the Kenny Powers Hall of F*ckin’ Fame: www.KennyPowers.com
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Use hashtag #Eastbound on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hbo
Eastbound & Down Official Site: http://itsh.bo/Hqf4eB.
Eastbound & Down online at HBO GO® http://itsh.bo/f6qIBP

Interview edited for space and content.

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