Many people may recognize Donald Faison as Chris Turk, or just Turk from the hit TV show "Scrubs," or from "Clueless" where he played Murray. Faison is a seasoned actor who has extensive experience in both television and film and ranks with the best comedy actors. Currently working on season 3 of "The Exes," Faison's next big project is the sequel to "Kick-Ass," where he plays Dr. Gravity, ironically not a doctor but instead a super suit wearing sidekick to Kick Ass himself. The film, also starring Jim Carrey, Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz, is set to release this August. I had a chance to speak to Faison on April 29 when he was promoting "The Exes" in the form of a phone press conference.
ME: Sitcoms are projects you have a lot of experience with. What makes sitcoms special for you?
DF: It's what I grew up on. I grew up on "The Cosby Show." I grew up watching a different world, whatever came on Thursday nights on NBC. They were usually traditional sitcoms and it's familiar to me and everybody should feel like they should watch a play on television with subject matters that are related to whatever the demographic is that you're trying to sell your show to. I think it's important to happen, that what's come out of it and the history of television and what television was in the past and what it is today, I think people should always be able to watch a show like "The Exes" or a show like "Everybody loves Raymond," and that they should have that option.
ME: What's the difference between doing a show like "The Exes" and doing a show like "Scrubs" comedy wise?
DF: I can safely say that we don't have a laugh track on "The Exes." That's an actual studio audience that we perform in front of. That being said, the difference is that you don't get the immediate reaction, the jokes have to be a little more visual so people can understand it's a joke. I'm one of those people that believes that the audience is there to also remind TV goers when to laugh and to feel the rhythm of the show. That's one thing that's a little different from a traditional sitcom and a single-camera sitcom, there's a rhythm with the laughter, there's a rhythm with how the jokes and the laughter ... mesh together. When you watch a single-camera, it doesn't have a reminder on when to laugh, it's usually that the show is more visual and they'll show you the joke as well. That's the big difference, at least in my opinion.
ME: What are some personal struggles you've experienced while trying to make it in the Hollywood industry?
DF: You hear "no" more than you hear "yes." It's great to hear "yes," but there are quite a number of unemployed actors out there and I've been unemployed quite a few times and that's a struggle, especially when all you really know is how to act. You audition against people that you hang out with sometimes, and that's a struggle too. You're hanging out with somebody one day and they're also up for a project you auditioned for. That's the main gist without getting deep or personal.
ME: As an actor, when you choose roles, what gravitates you to particular characters that you choose to portray?
DF: In a lot of ways, bills got to be paid. That's number one. Part two is ... how comfortable you feel playing the role, if you could do a good job, is it a challenge -- and if it's a challenge -- then is it a challenge you're willing to accept at the time. I have been given some dope material to work with and I've gotten a chance to work with some really great writers and directors; that has a lot to do with it also. There are many reasons why you take a particular role. That's a tough question to answer.
ME: What are some of your favorite roles that you've played and why?
DF: I really liked being Murray in "Clueless," I guess that was a lot of fun, the first time I really ever spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. It reminded me of "The Breakfast Club," I thought it was cool and I always wanted to be in something like that, like "Pretty in Pink." That was the first time I had ever been in something that big ... it really kick-started my career. I enjoyed "Scrubs" and I thoroughly liked playing Turk. A lot of who I am got to come through in Chris Turk , and that's how I met Zac Braff. I enjoyed Remember the Titans too. I enjoyed everything I've ever done and I'm really enjoying doing "The Exes" now. I can honestly say I've enjoyed everything I've gotten an opportunity to do so far.
ME: Your first stint on television was in a Folgers Coffee commercial. Would you say that was your big break?
DF: I was 12 years old when I did that. Was it my big break? It wasn't as big as I thought it was! I thought it was huge! I was very happy to be in the commercial, I was very young and I told my mom I wanted to be an actor and she went out as a good mom does and got me an agent and my agent got me that audition and I got the part. It was a big deal for me because I felt like I was really acting. For me at the time it was huge, a big moment in my life, but I don't think it was my big break.
ME: You act in both television shows and movies, but which do you prefer and why?
DF: I enjoy doing both. I like the feeling of having a job in television, but I like the adventure of going off and doing movies, whether it's in California or if it's filmed somewhere else. I got the opportunity of do the movie "Kickass 2" and I got to go to London for the second time in my life and I got to spend a lot of time there. I liked that, it was an adventure. But I also like going home and going into a studio every day and working on a television show. It feels good to have a constant routine going.
ME: What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
DF: Make sure it's something that you really want to do because it doesn't happen to everybody. When you get on the line know that once you get off the line and try to get back on the line you're at the back of the line, even though there are so many ways to skip it. More than anything, if you want to be in the industry and be an actor and get into entertainment, you got to be creative. It is one of those things where you try and try and you get a lot of "no," but you keep trying. If you really think that you can hear "no" a lot and continue to go forward, give it a shot. I think anybody and everybody can if they put 100 percent into it, it doesn't mean it'll work out for you but I guarantee it'll pay off. That's the adventure. If it's something you really want to do, go for it and don't let anyone stop you. But that's just life in general, isn't it?