FOOL'S PARADISE Exclusive Interview With Star Ken Jeong ("Lenny the Publicist")

Charlie Day's directorial debut Fool's Paradise is now in theaters and ahead of its release, we sat down with the brilliant Ken Jeong to talk about one of the best performances of his career!

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Fool's Paradise, the star-studded directorial debut of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day, is now playing in theaters, and ahead of the film's launch, we were able to sit down with the film's co-lead Ken Jeong (The HangoverCommunity) to talk about his role as Lenny the Publicist and why he believes Day was able to help him deliver what he believes to be the best performance of his career. 

The film, which Day also scripted, tells the story of a down-on-his-luck publicist (Ken Jeong) who discovers a recently released mental health patient Latte Pronto (Charlie Day) who looks just like a misbehaving movie star. When an unexpected situation presents itself, the publicist is able to sub him into a major motion picture, creating a new star. But, both quickly learn that fame and fortune are not all they are cracked up to be.

Considering how Jeong himself shot to stardom with the The Hangover trilogy, he tells me whether he saw any parallels in his own journey and the main character's. He also elaborates on whether he based his publicist character on any real-life figures in his own inner circle, and more. 

Watch our full video interview below or keep scrolling for the full text, and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel!

ROHAN: After The Hangover opened in 2009, you and your co-stars practically became household names overnight. Considering your own experiences, did you see any parallels between your journey to stardom and Latte Pronto's journey in Fool's Paradise?  

KEN: Wow, what a great question. I don't think anyone's ever asked me that before. Yeah, there is this kind of - once you get established, you don't really know you're established. There is this kind of like, what's going on? I think many people go through their own version of imposter syndrome, where you're like, why, how, what, there's almost this existential thing, and, you know, I think what grounds you is - I've been very blessed to have a very supportive wife who supported me to quit my day job as a doctor to do acting full time, supportive parents who did the same. Now, my kids who, like I support, and they support me as well.

I think the purpose of, I think, my life is very coincident with the purpose of this movie, is, at the end of the day, yeah, being rich and famous is almost like this astonishment, but at the end of the day, you need people who love and support you, with family and friends. I think Fool's Paradise actually hits that message of love and support of friendship, of fellowship, and it's, in a way, a very gentle morality tale, disguised as kind of a Hollywood satire with these amazing Academy Award-winning actors, and honestly, Charlie Day brings out a performance in me that I didn't think I was even able to do.

Charlie Day is one of the best directors I've ever worked with. This is his first film, by the way, everyone. I keep forgetting that it's his first film. He wrote, directed, and stars in this, first time! And, literally, I've been very blessed to do so many things in my career, including The Hangover and Community, but I do think in my film career, my acting, for me, this is my favorite thing I've ever done, and I think Charlie brings out the best performance I've ever done. So, and you can only say that once and I don't choose those words lightly, but the reason why I'm here talking to you, is because of Charlie.

ROHAN: You mentioned your strong support system and your character, the publicist, is a very strong line of support for Latte in this film. Did you try to base your performance on anyone you knew or was it more an amalgamation of a bunch of different people you've crossed paths with over the course of your career?

KEN: That's a great question too, because when I booked the movie, I'd actually called my personal publicists, and I'd ask them questions, just in general. And, we have a scene where we walk the red carpet, and I remember asking both Michelle and Carrie, just like how do you do this? How do you do that? So, it was fun just seeing what they do and have a deeper understanding.

I actually would watch YouTube videos of stars on the red carpet and see how the publicists would act - there's certain things or little code short-hands, and I would mimic that in the movie, whether it's seen or not in the movie, I was just kind of mimicking that. So, there's definitely archetypes I wanted to follow, but when Charlie did an eleventh hour reshoot, I definitely injected more of my own sensibilities, or my interpretation of what I think Lenny the publicist is.

But really, on top of all that, it was really Charlie just guiding me and literally directing me to the right truth of the character in the performance. I've never had so much care and love in a director, getting the right performance out of me like Charlie, and I think that shows in the movie, and the movie is also about friendship, you know, on camera, but behind-the-scenes, it's also very much a parallel. So, our friendship, my personal friendship with Charlie blossoming, and he's the reason why I'm talking to you right now.

​​A satirical comedy about a down on his luck publicist, who gets his lucky break when he discovers a man recently released from a mental health facility looks just like a method actor who refuses to leave his trailer. With the help of a powerful producer, the publicist helps the man become a huge star, even marrying his beautiful leading lady. Their adventures lead them to cross paths with drunken costars, irreverent unhoused action heroes, unpredictable directors, super-agent, and power-mad moguls. Fame and fortune are not all they're cracked up to be, and the two men must fight their way back to the things that matter the most.

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