TV Interview - Let's Be Cops' stars come clean

Damon Wayans Jr., and Jake Johnson on filming in ATL, gun-toting babies, and improvisation

Thursday August 7, 2014 04:00 am EDT

It's rare to find stars of a buddy flick who are actually good friends in real life. Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson, whose on-set chemistry in Fox's "New Girl" is undeniable, bring their comedic partnership to Let's Be Cops. Filmed in Atlanta, Let's Be Cops shows the actors in their best-improvised form: hilarious, outrageous, and absolutely relatable. Wayans Jr. and Johnson spoke to Creative Loafing about their favorite experiences filming in the city, what it's like to have a large Samoan man's testicles in your face, and revelations that the food in Atlanta is, in fact, much better than that in L.A.

So, do you like the movie?

Jake Johnson: We do, yeah. We've been able to see it with some audiences, which is fun, because it feels like a movie — you don't wanna watch this movie alone on your computer. It's a big movie, and it has big set pieces, like when that guy's balls are in Damon's face.

Damon Wayans Jr.: They were not on my face. They were near.

JJ: Yeah, but you were pushing your face closer.

DWJ: No, you and Rob Riggle grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him closer.

How many takes did you have to do to get that scene right?

JJ: About two takes. Damon wanted to take more takes, but we didn't have time.

DWJ: No, that's not what happened.

JJ: He was like, whining, "No, I couldn't taste it."

DWJ: I didn't say I couldn't taste it! I said I couldn't feel it ...

Do you think y'all can relate to your characters?

DWJ: Yeah, for sure. I feel like those two characters are very relatable guys. Jake's character, Ryan doesn't know what he wants to do for the rest of his life, and my character's too scared to do anything.

JJ: They're just guys that want to do something more than what they're doing, which I think is something — especially in your late '20s, early '30s — is very relatable. Some people have got it all figured out, but most people don't. And these guys definitely didn't, and they get themselves into way more trouble than they expected.

So you shot the movie in Atlanta. What was that experience like?

DWJ: I loved it. It's very hot, very moist in the summer. So when we're playing cops in these outfits, it's very sweaty, there's some rashes where they shouldn't be.

JJ: We went to the Clermont a lot. It was crazy ... laughs

How does filming in Atlanta compare with filming in Los Angeles?

JJ: It's way muggier here.

DWJ: The food's better here.

Which one of you would make the better cop?

JJ: Maybe me. Nah, I'd lose it. I'd turn into a stereotypical renegade cop. I'd start off where I believed in the system, and then slowly the bullshit of it all would get to me and I'd start making my own rules. But I would need a partner, preferably an in unison African-American partner. laughs Who's getting a little bit sick of this shit and all he wants is to retire. But I just want to wear my leather jacket and play shoot-em-up with bad guys.

DWJ: Is that Lethal Weapon?

JJ: Is it?! laughs I know we would have a lethal combination.

This movie is kind of a bromance. Jake, do you think you have better on-set chemistry with Damon or Zooey Deschanel on "New Girl?"

JJ: Well, I guess you could say that in the movies, Damon Wayans, Jr. is my Jess.

DWJ: Don't call me Jess! I'm not your Jess!

JJ: But I will say, they both look super cute with bangs. And he looks so good in little polka dot dresses.

DWJ: singing Who's that boy?

JJ: I think they're different chemistries, but I enjoy them both.

Did y'all spend time with real cops?

JJ: We did in Los Angeles. We went on a ride-along in Compton. It was terrifying.

DWJ: It was so scary.

JJ: They're having, like, gang parties, and the cops and the gangs both know about it. We were all, like, "What the fuck is going on?!" There were little babies with guns, which was interesting. You're like, "That is an adorable baby. Oh my God, is that a gun?!" I'm like, "Aw, little baby, can I hold you?" The baby's like, "Gimme your shit!"

How much of the movie was improv?

DWJ: Every scene that we did we made sure to improvise a little bit. The writer of the movie really encouraged that. We improvised a lot.

JJ: A lot of the actual scenes in the movie are scenes that we came up with, with the writer, like, the night before shooting. We'd do a bunch of rewrites and then improvise and figure things out.

It must be refreshing to be able to improvise and work with one of your close friends.

JJ: Yeah, a project like this you sign up for because they tell you, "We want you to improvise and have fun and be loose." So, you know you're going to Atlanta to goof off a bunch. It was great.

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