There are certain people who are ready to give up on their dream, but they hold on to it long enough to make it happen. Josh Gad is one of the top breakout stars of this year. With a role on the hit Fox TV show Back To You playing a news director alongside Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton and a part in the box office hit 21, Gad is on his way to becoming a recognizable face. On top of it he’s about to get married this week and revealed his plans exclusively here and who the lucky woman is. His story is one of perseverance in an industry where most don’t make it.
Listen to the Josh Gad CYInterview:
(Backup Player: Including IE)
Chris Yandek: Do you still pinch yourself that you’re on a hit TV show and just recently in a number one movie?
Josh Gad: “You know what? I absolutely cannot seem to fathom it all. It’s one of those things that even though it’s happening, it’s almost an out of body experience. You can’t really put yourself in the situation and say wow! That’s me? I am part of this crazy life right now. It’s really an exciting time. It’s very rewarding. It’s really amazing.”
CY: Is it the belief that being an actor is what you were meant to do and that has helped you get to the point where you are right now?
JG: “Absolutely! There was a point at which – this is something that I’ve known that I always wanted to do from the time I was five-years-old. I went to college for it. I went to Carnegie Mellon Drama for four years and put myself through a conservatory environment, which can be very difficult and trying. Then you get out of college and you have this mentality of fearlessness. Everything is gonna happen for me. I am gonna go out there and just take over Hollywood and it’s all gonna be amazing.
A certain reality sets in that it doesn’t work like that. The struggle to find any sort of rhythm, any sort of success to build on is a very real struggle. For me at least it was. My first three years out of college were very difficult. I was at a point where I was ready to give up and go to law school actually- pursue a career in law, become a caretaker for my girlfriend at the time, and just kind of get my life together. I remember calling up my mom and telling her this and be like telling her this, ok, this sweet Jewish mother is going to be so ecstatic that her son is finally getting it together and getting a degree in law.
She starts crying and she says to me, ‘You’ve worked too hard for too long to achieve a destiny that is rightfully yours to give up on it so quickly.” I took a moment and I processed it all and I guess if she is signing off on it then it’s all right for the struggle to continue so long as I am not just giving up yet. And about a week or two later I got my first big break on Broadway.”
CY: Are people starting to recognize you more on the streets since 21 came out last month and besides Back To You?
JG: “It’s an amazing thing. Something I haven’t quite gotten comfortable with. It’s one of those things that involves a lot of pointing. A lot of that’s that guy. Oh my God! I just saw you. It’s really strange and it has taken on a new life since 21 that the occasional recognition that Back To You would bring is now ten fold by having what was for two weeks a number one movie. It’s crazy how much recognition something like that can bring to you. You don’t really process that as you’re going through it. It’s something that just happens to you and you can’t really prepare for it. I definitely wouldn’t say that I have the unfortunate circumstance of Britney Spears being chased by paparazzi everywhere I go.”
CY: Not yet anyways.
JG: “Exactly! (Laughs) I still feel pretty good going out and just enjoying the anonymity I still have.”
CY: How would you describe the whole 21 experience?
JG: “21 was arguably as good as it will ever get. I hope to build on that, but there is something magical about having your first movie be with a bunch of people who are kind of in the same situation just ready to break. Having Laurence Fisburne, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Robert Blutanic, all of these established people take you on that journey, go with you on that journey. It was just the perfect marriage. It was the perfect situation. Robert [Luketic] saw me in Spelling Bee, he and Dana Brunetti who’s a producer of the film, both came to see the show.
They really responded and said we’d love for you to do this film. At the time I had never thought about a career in film. I knew that I wanted to do theater and that was good enough and then when that came along it’s like oh my God, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. It was just one of those things where it was perfect. It was perfect in every way I had ever hoped it would be.”
CY: Now looking at Back To You, what is like to work with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton and what have you learned from them?
JG: “I use this analogy quite often, but it’s the most accurate one, which is that it is a masters class in comedy. It’s not every day you get to work with one legend in a format. The format being a standard four- camera sitcom, but it’s another thing to have two legends and a third legend in his own right Fred Willard. I feel absolutely like I am working with thee top people in this business. It’s something that I am continuously learning from. Kelsey will pull me aside and tell me what’s not working about a joke that I am doing and I welcome it. I love the man.
I embrace it and this is like getting a free education, but getting paid to get educated. Then of course you have Jimmy Burrows who in my opinion is the Spielberg of sitcom television. The guy has worked on everything from Cheers to Mary Tyler Moore to Friends. It really is this incredible situation that I am in where I consistently find myself amazed by the amount of knowledge being bestowed on me. I feel very lucky.”
CY: You can say that you’re lucky in a different way. Your publicist told me that you’re getting married this month. Who’s the lucky girl? Have you set a date yet? What can you tell me?
JG: “Of all the accomplishments in my life landing this girl as cliché as it is, is truly the greatest accomplishment because she’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Her name is Ida. The two of us actually met about 3.5 years ago during that so called struggling period of my life where I was just trying to figure it all out. We were doing this play together in a little teeny theater in Santa Monica, California called the Elephant Asylum. The two of just really hit it off immediately. She has been there for me through thick and thin. I said finally I can reward you with the wedding of your dreams. It’s really exciting. We’re getting married May 10th.”
CY: Any other details?
JG: “There is gonna be 250 guests, some of them very recognizable, which will be interesting. We’re excited that the Bush wedding is the same weekend. That’ll kind of get all the attention and will just have our little private event.”
CY: Finally, I see you’re in a few other upcoming projects. Tell me about them.
JG: “The Rocker staring Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, and the cast of amazing comics, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen. That’s coming out August 1st. I play Rainn’s nephew. A little shy, introverted band member. What happens is that the film starts off in 1987 and Rainn is part of this band that is just ready to explode and all of sudden as they’re hitting that peak, the manager comes in and says the band is incredible except you gotta lose the drummer, the drummer of course being Rainn. Cut to 20 years later he is down on his luck, he’s completely out of work, and he comes to live with his sister, brother in law, and nephew. I am in this high school band and we lose our drummer for the prom so I convince him to come and join us and one thing leads to another. It’s really a fun film. It’s in the vain of these kind of great 80’s films. It has a lot of heart, a lot of brilliant comedy. I am really excited about it. Then I start production on movie called Mardi Gras in about three weeks. There is a lot of stuff going on. As you say I continue to pinch myself although it often hurts.”
You can catch Josh Gad on Fox’s Back To You Wednesday nights at 8:30 PM EST.