Donald Faison on Kick-Ass 2, Dr Gravity, Scrubs and more
Ahead of the release of Kick-Ass 2, we spoke to actor Donald Faison about his character Doctor Gravity, Scrubs and more...
Actor Donald Faison may be better known to many of his fans as Dr Chris Turk in the hit comedy drama series Scrubs, but he's about to make a big impression in a very different role - as the hapless superhero Doctor Gravity in the anarchic sequel Kick-Ass 2.
As part of a string of round-table interviews that took place on the set of the movie late last year, Mr Faison walked into the room with all the confidence and charisma of a powerful comic book character - though as the actor admits during the interview below, Doctor Gravity's rather less powerful than his name implies...
What's it like filming Kick-Ass 2?
It's great filming Kick-Ass 2. This is a dream come true. I've been waiting to do this my whole life. This is why I got into acting. For some reason, everyone said "You're going to do comedy instead." That's just how it goes. But yeah, I remember dressing up in my underoos playing superheroes. And now I'm playing Doctor Gravity.
I'm gonna tell you something: it was a lot easier in my underoos than it is here. [Laughs]
What does Doctor Gravity do?
He doesn't have any super powers if that's what you're wondering. He's just a guy who's created an alter ego and a character. But he introduces Kick-Ass to Justice Forever. They're out on patrol one night. It hits the fan and they get into a fight, and he says he should join our team.
Does he have the gravity stick from the comic?
He does have the gravity stick. But it can't levitate people. It's just a baseball wrapped in tin foil. It'll levitate a man's soul from his body, how 'bout that? [Laughs]
What kind of superhero is he?
He starts off amateurish, and by the end of it, he gets to kick some ass, no pun intended. He gets to prove himself. And I think it starts - I don't know what Mark [Millar] has in store for the next one, but he gets to kick ass. And hopefully he'll still be a superhero by the time they make Kick-Ass 3!
Don't you think the characters are more relatable than other comic book heroes? You could never be Superman, but you could be Doctor Gravity.
Absolutely. And if you're crazy, you can be Doctor Gravity. I don't know if you guys agree with this, but you not only have to have heart, you have to be nuts to put on a costume and stop people from doing things. I remember when I was a kid, someone dressed up in a teddy bear outfit at the ice skating rink, and we attacked him. We jumped on him and took him to the ground. You could see the fear through the mask, even though the mask had a huge smile on its face. [Laughs]
Anyone can be a superhero, but you gotta have something missing.
So you killed Doctor Bear, in other words?
No, we didn't kill Doctor Bear, we just...
Beat the stuffing out of him?
We beat the stuffing out of him. That's a great joke. I wish I could've thought of it.
Were you a big fan of the first film?
A huge fan of the first film. I remember seeing the movie and thinking, this is what superhero movies should be like. Like you said, in other superhero movies, these cats are jumping out of buildings and flying into different galaxies and living in Asgard. They're shooting webs from their wrists and getting bitten by spiders.
Here's what reality is: you put on a costume, you get stabbed and shot. You get broken bones and stuff. So when I saw it, I thought, this is the side of superheroes we never see. I loved the first film. I thought it was funny. I thought Chloe [Grace Moretz] was great in the first film as well.
Who have you formed a bond with on set? Particularly those on your side?
We all hang out together. Aaron and I kick it. Clark [Duke] and I kick it. Chris [Mintz-Plasse] and I kick it. We have a good time. This is one of those things where we're all here to make a good movie, but when we're hanging out, Aaron's young, has that spirit. We did our first fight scene with these three or four characters who are there to kick our ass, and I woke up 16 hours after that fight. Aaron woke up and went to work eight hours later.
I remember waking up and my butt muscle was pulled, and it hurt. He was there next there ready to go. Part of the reason is because he's 22, but also because he's prepared for this.
You both look as though you've been working out. Or is this how you normally are?
I was born like this. [Laughs] No, I work out every day at lunch. They hired a personal trainer to work with us. We do military work outs and stuff. It's a lot of fun.
Hard work though, when you want to be having your lunch.
Yeah, but I want to fit in this costume. I want to look good. Before this, when I found out I'd got this, I did two months of Muay Thai kickboxing to learn how to fight. I didn't want to throw punches like don't know how to throw punches.
Should you look good in the costume, and should you know how to punch? Should you not look ridiculous and amateurish?
I think, if you look in the mirror, and you don't feel like you look cool and powerful and confident, you'd make a pretty bad superhero. [Laughs] And it goes with the territory. You have to be able to chase down crooks. And in order to do that, you have to be in shape. You can't be the guy who says stop, and the guy doesn't stop, and you can't even go three steps.
As a newly-minted member of the superhero community, have you reflected on the lack of black superheroes in general?
I'm glad you asked that question.
I don't mean this as a militant thing, but there aren't...
Black power! [Laughs] For the longest time, the best superhero movie was Blade, and then Marvel started dropping Iron Man and Captain America and stuff like that, and DC dropped Batman. For a long time, there were no black superheroes. But Anthony Mackie's going to be a superhero, which is really cool. I get to play Doctor Gravity, which is really cool. We'll have to see who else shows up. I'm happy to be a part of that. Of course I am.
Hancock was a superhero. Will Smith.
That wasn't a comic book. He just made up a superhero because he wanted to be Superman!
Apart from delivering punches, do you get to deliver any good punch lines?
Um, I hope so. I've tried a few things. We'll have to see if they make the movie. Levitating a man's soul from his body: that's mine. [Laughs] We'll see if that makes the movie.
So have you been able to ad-lib a bit?
A little bit, you know. You want to stick to the lines. Jeff [Wadlow's] a really good writer, and he loves this movie. We want to do the best we can, because he has this movie's best interests at heart. This isn't just something to make money for him. This is a passion for him as well.
You're still heavily associated with Scrubs, of course. Does it feel strange to wander onto such a different set and do something completely different?
I'm just happy I can come onto a set and do something completely different, to be honest with you. Hopefully, people will start to call me Doctor Gravity and not Turk wherever I go! That's all I hear, walking the streets of London. "Holy shit, it's Turk!"
Do you get people asking for help with their medical conditions?
On Twitter, that happens a lot. [Laughs] "I'm in hospital right now, and none of these doctors look like Turk or JD." Listen, I am not a doctor. I might have played one on television, but I'm here to tell you: if you go into labour, or if you break your leg or something, I will not be setting a cast, and I will most definitely not be delivering a baby. That's not happening!
What was your impression when you saw the Doctor Gravity costume for the first time, and then put it on for the first time?
When I first saw it, I was like, awesome, it kind of looks like Captain America. Kinda. [Laughs] Then putting it on, I wanted to make sure I was skinny enough to get into it. I didn't want to look like I had a bit belly in it. Once I put it on, I was like, this is great. Then we had our first fight scene, and the sweat that accumulates in this thing... when I take it off, you don't want to be within five feet of my radius, because you will smell the crack of my ass. [Laughs] Just puttin' it out there, baby. Crime fighting stinks! I put deodorant on all the time, but still...
But they wash it every night, surely?
Yeah, they do. Every time I put it on, it smells nice and fresh.
How many suits have you got?
Two. There's the hero suit, that's really tight and you can't move all that much in, then there's the one you do all the running and kicking in.
That second one, then, is it still quite difficult to move?
It's still quite difficult to move. The boots are really the problem, because they're motorcycle boots. Running and jumping and spinning and kicking, it's very difficult when you have four-pound boots on that don't give in any way.
Were you a comic book junkie growing up?
I wouldn't say junkie, but I read a lot growing up. I remember I thought I'd start collecting comics, and I got GI Joe one for $30 thinking it would be worth so much more money one day. Then I went to the comic book store and he was like, "It's worth 20 cents". I was like, "Really?" So then I thought maybe collecting comics wasn't really my thing.
So why, if it was the first issue, wasn't it worth anything?
The number one GI Joe is not that rare at all. The number one Spider-Man, I hear, is very rare. If you can find that.
Did you have any scenes with Jim Carrey?
Most of my scenes were with Jim Carrey.
How were they, then?
It was great. Jim's a really hard worker. Not only is he funny, not only is he talented, he's a professional, and he wants to get the scene right. He worked really hard on this, and all you've got to do is sit back, and you can really learn from him. He's not big Jim Carrey in this one. It's not Ace Ventura. He plays an ex-mobster, and he finds a way to bring his humour into the film. It's really fun to watch. And also, it's Jim Carrey.
I'd get nervous whenever he asked me a question, and just go, "Uh-huh! Uh-huh!" And he'd say, "That's wasn't a yes or no question." [Laughs]
When you see Jim Carrey's name on the call sheet next to yours for the next day, you know you're going to have to bring it.
Absolutely. And you know you can't be intimidated, you know you've got to show up and do your best work. But that's how you should be with anything, but when you see Jim Carrey there, you want to shine. You don't want to be background player, if you know what I mean.
Is there a particular scene that's your favourite, whether it's a dialogue scene or a fight scene?
It's all been great. I'm really happy to be here, to be a part of this movie.
Was there a scene that you found particularly difficult?
The fight scene. The fight scene was really difficult. In the fight scene I'm doing right now, you guys get to see the evil lair and stuff. Yesterday, we did the beginning of the fight scene - it's a giant war cry, then into the fray. It looks like Braveheart. It was very difficult doing that over and over.
Is there anyone in particular you square off against in that fight?
Yeah, I fight against this guy named Goggles. [Laughs] I think you can guess what his costume is! Then I get to fight some other people. The fight coordinator's a big fan of Scrubs, so he's like, "I've got so many great fights for you, you're not going to believe it. You're going to get to fight a lot, Turkington." Even the stunt coordinator calls me Turkington.
Would you be up for a Scrubs: The Movie?
If they made it, and I was funny, yeah sure. I think they're going for a Broadway show, though. I don't think they're going to make a movie, I think they're going straight for Broadway.
How would you compare Doctor Gravity's relationship with Kick-Ass and the Colonel's?
Doctor Gravity's a lot like I am. He's just happy to be a part of it. He really can't fight. It's just something that he said he wanted to do, and he's followed through. The Colonel's been doing this for a while - he's a mentor, if anything. You know, Kick-Ass took on a mob boss and won. The Colonel's been fighting bad guys for years, and he's been fighting good guys for years. Kick-Ass got lucky in the first one because he had Hit-Girl with him. The Colonel's someone he can actually learn from.
Doctor Gravity's really Kick-Ass when Kick-Ass first started: he's happy to be walking the streets just wearing his suit. He's very lucky to have Kick-Ass on his side, because he takes most of the lumps.
Do you see Doctor Gravity out of the costume?
Yeah, you do. A couple of times. You get to see this face, yes. [Laughs] It would suck to do a whole movie and never show your face.
So not like Dredd.
No, Dredd - Karl Urban has to wear the mask for the whole film.
Oh, Judge Dredd. I didn't see that movie. That sucks that he didn't get to take off the mask even once.
Well, he said he'd only do the movie if he could keep the mask on the whole time. It's the character. Dredd never takes his mask off.
If you do the Sylvester Stallone movie...
Oh, the new one's way better than that.
I gotta see Dredd. Is it good?
If you're wearing a mask and doing your own stunts, won't people just assume it was a stunt double anyway? You're sort of at a loss.
I'm going to be telling everyone I did my own stunts. I promise you that. Everybody. If you thinking I'm B-S-ing, come and hang out on Sunday, when I'll be doing all my own stunts. [Laughs] Tell everyone: Donald Faison did his own stunts! Ask Chris Mintz-Plasse if he did his!
Donald Faison, thank you very much.
Kick-Ass 2 opens Friday!