A die hard NY Jets and Mets fan and Long Island native, James took time for an exclusive face to face interview with Jets Insider.com this week at his NY hotel where he discussed his career, upcoming movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” with Adam Sandler and his love of the NY Jets.
SD: You're obviously a huge Jets fan as evidenced by your weekly attire of Jets gear on the King of Queens. On the show, Doug also proposed to Carrie at a Jets game. Talk about your allegiance to Gang Green and how you became a fan?
KJ: “I’ve been a Jets fan since way back, early on in my childhood. It was all my Dad. I’ve loved them since they played in Shea Stadium. In fact, I named my daughter who was born three weeks ago Shea. The Jets were always a cool team. Everyone wanted to be Joe Willy (Namath). I had the #12 jersey. Besides Namath I was a fan of all the old Jets….Don Maynard, Matt Snell, Emerson Boozer, Freeman Mc Neil. I also loved Bruce Harper because he was an insane multi- talented little freak who could run the ball, return kicks I was actually a big running back fan because I played fullback in high school and college.”
SD: Before you moved out west, did you attend a lot of Jets games?
KJ: “Not as many as I wanted to. I went to some games at Shea and many more at the Meadowlands but I never was able to go to as many games as I wanted. Never missed one on TV though.”
SD: You now live in LA, what is your routine on Jets gameday? Do you watch the game yourself or hang with other fellow Jets fans out there?
KJ: “During the week it’s work, work, work. So on Jets gameday it’s a treat. I get a huge pot of chili (beer in the chili is my secret ingredient), a bunch of buddies come over and I have a movie sized screen that we watch the Jets on.”
Die Hard Jets fan Kevin James shows off his new JI tee shirt proudly. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
SD: How do you keep up with the Jets being across the country?
KJ: “I’ll watch ESPN and the other sports networks that cover the Jets. Although I'm not a big computer guy and don’t go to a lot of websites, I have three sites bookmarked on my laptop; mets.com, New York Jets.com and jetsinsider.com. So I’ll check it out when I can but it’s so crazy with work that sometimes it is a challenge keeping up.”
SD: You spent the last nine years working on a highly successful series. It’s obviously a huge grind and a lot of work. Now that it’s over where do you see your career going?
KJ: “Right now I’m doing movies and movies are going well, thank God. We’ll see how “Chuck and Larry” does. So far it looks like it’s going to do well because I was lucky enough to work with really talented and cool guys. Hopefully it will continue for a while.
Someday I would love to get back to TV. I like the live audience. It’s an amazing feeling. The bridge between standup and film is doing a sitcom because you still have the live audience and have that pumped up feeling.”
SD: So you’re not burned out?
KJ: “No, not at all. If anything you get burned out by playing the same character but even then I still enjoyed it and would have kept going if it wasn’t so hard to come up with new story ideas. I really loved the people I worked with, Leah (Remini) and Jerry (Stiller) were great and the writing was excellent. I’d love to go back to TV someday.”
SD: Speaking of your character, how much is Kevin like Doug?
KJ: “I’ve always said they are very similar. Only difference is that Doug was always four pounds heavier. I would always have to put on four pounds before I got into the character of Doug. (laughs)”
SD: You’ve become one of many NY/LI comedians (Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David etc.) who have come full circle from the comedy circuit in NY to a hugely successful TV series. What endears America to these NY comedians?
KJ: “I’m not really sure what it is. I think it’s the NY upbringing and family. Sports have a lot to do with I too. NY sports and bonding. New Yorkers are more raw and tell it like it is. I think America finds that amusing. I personally have always seemed to click better with fellow New Yorkers.”
SD: Now that you live in LA, are you able to get back to NY a lot?
KJ: “I don’t get back here as much as I’d like to. Whenever we are scheduled to come back home it’s a trip I look forward to so much. Since we’ve been here we went to a Mets over the weekend then Yankee game because (Adam) Sandler is a fan. Last year when we were filming “Chuck and Larry” we went to the Jets home opener which was exciting. I try to get as much things in during my time here since we are not here that often.”
SD: Your movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” premiers on Friday. What was it like working with co-star Adam Sandler?
KJ: “It was the best career experience I’ve had to date. It was so much fun. From Adam letting me be a part of the process and laughing with him every day during the movie and after the cut. After work we continued to have a great time. We hung out a lot and ended up becoming great friends. We really are close in this movie. I’m excited because even when we are not doing a movie together I now have a buddy for life.”
SD: So is this going to turn into a Dean and Jerry type of partnership?
KJ: (laughs) “I don’t know if we are going to do that many movies together but I’d love to do more with Adam. Actually didn’t Dean and Jerry end up hating each other?”
SD: Tell me this….how does Sandler, a Chowd from New Hampshire become a Jets fan?
KJ: “I’ll tell you how. He was born in Brooklyn and his Dad used to watch the Jets at Shea Stadium and Adam became a Jets fan then. His Dad was also a Yankee fan. Like me, you follow your Dad. Whatever your Dad roots for you follow that team as well. Sandler catches some flack for it because he moved to New Hampshire when he was five but you know, he’s loyal. He’s stuck with the Jets through and through.”
SD: After being a long time bachelor, within the past 2 years you got married and have had 2 daughters. How has that changed your life?
KJ: “It’s incredible being a father. It’s the most fun, demanding, crazy experience you can imagine. It fulfills you in a way you have no idea…especially being from Hollywood with all these projects you think you have enjoyment when you get a new movie role or your TV show does well but it doesn’t even compare to when your kid wakes you up in the morning and you see your child is real and part of your family. It's unreal.”
SD: Have you already started brainwashing your kids to be Jets and Mets fans?
KJ: “Oh yeah, absolutely. In fact it’s funny you mention that. A few weeks ago a friend gave my newborn daughter a Yankee onesie and I told him she couldn’t wear it. Her name is Shea, afterall (laughs).”
SD: Getting back to Gang Green…..Who is your favorite all-time Jet?
KJ: “Tough question, I have so many. Namath, Boozer, Harper, Freeman Mc Neil. I’d have to say Freeman. Only because I was a running back when he was a Jet and he was the guy I watched.”
SD: What is your greatest memory in Jets history?
KJ: “My best and worst memory is the same game, the Monday Night Miracle game against the Dolphins a few years ago.
My Dad was sick and soon after passed a way but he wanted to go so I got tickets. I was there with him and my brother. They started getting blown out and due to my Dad’s health we thought we’d get a jump on the traffic and leave early. We got to the car and started listening to the game on the radio and the amazing comeback started. We ended up pulling over to this little bar and watching the rest of the game there but we missed the comeback.
The game was bittersweet. An incredible victory that we missed but also the last game with my Dad.”
SD: What do you think about Coach Mangini?
KJ: “I like him. I actually love the Dude. I like what he’s doing with the team, he’s a smart, smart man and he’s good looking too. He looks a little like me and you. A big guy…I like that.”
SD: What does Kevin James do if the Jets make the Superbowl?
KJ: “If the Jets make the Superbowl I’m there no matter what. It’s tough, because you never know where you are shooting but if the Jets are in the big game I drop everything and go. The wife has already been briefed.”
SD: Finally, what’s your prediction for the Jets this season?
KJ: “I think they will do well. I was concerned about Chad’s (Pennington) arm but it seems be healed. When he’s healthy, he can be an amazing QB. If they keep it together I think they will be the team to beat in the AFC East. I believe in Mangini and his system. Look out for the Jets in 2007.”
SD: Kevin, thanks for your time and great luck with the movie.
KJ: Thank you, Sean…this was a lot of fun. Can’t wait to check out that big tailgate party of yours next time we come to a game! Thanks for coming out.