Interview: Eddie Kaye Thomas Talks The "How To Make It In America" Season Finale, Kid Cudi & "American Reunion"

Interview: Eddie Kaye Thomas Talks The "How To Make It In America" Season Finale, Kid Cudi & "American Reunion"

You mentioned Cudi's acting skills improving over the season. What's it like working alongside him and seeing his growth?
It's really exciting. I still get off on being friends with a rockstar. He's not just a rapper—that guy is a rockstar. If you see him live, he kills it. There's a lot of hip-hop acts that I don't think can perform live, but he really has it and he works hard and he's amazing. After seeing him on stage and then getting to hang out with him and build a friendship with him, that just feels super cool and eye-opening because I get to know a lot of actors but it's really interesting getting to know that side of the world.

He cares. He's done an amazing job of realizing "This is something I wanna do, I wanna be an actor" and he learned one of the most important things: Don't try so hard. Good actors let their own natural beings shine through, their own personalities. Cudi shows up and he's learned how to do nothing really well, and I mean that in the best possible sense. He's not pushing, he's not trying really hard. Cudi is a really dynamic, likeable guy and that comes through on the show. He's going to get a lot more acting work if he wants to. He's good, he's dedicated, he works hard by not working too hard.

When I first met him, I didn't know who he was. His album [Man On The Moon: The End Of Day] had just come out a bit ago and I heard "Day N Nite" but I wasn't that much aware of him. His fame as a rapper has grown as the show has grown and he's gotten himself really involved with the show and dedicated. We're lucky to have him, he's a real talent.

How did the season two filming experieces differ from the first? There have been a lot of changes to the show, one of which being that its become a lot raunchier.
We definitely have more naked women, which is always good. I think that's kind of indicative of the fact that we're just a little more comfortable. We're aware of the show we're trying to make. We're aware of what we're doing. There's a bit more ease with it now that we know who we are.

Going back to any show, even The Sopranos or Sex And The City, in the first season they still hadn't figured out what they were. There's a back-and-forth of "We're kind of like this, but we're not about this." We started to get there in the second season, we realized what we're good at it, who we are, and then we were able to enjoy ourselves a lot more. The show's fun. New York is a sexy place with a lot of fun things happening and really interesting, diverse people, and this is a slice of New York.

It's not like "Oh, here's a fun party scene in New York" or, "Oh, let's show the fashion world," it's these people living their lives right now, and taking that journey with them. As we get to know those people better we're more comfortable with it and we're having more fun with it, which I really think is shining through in the second season.

I feel like when people talk to me about the show now, they're just enjoying it more. It's a pleasure to watch it, they're having fun with us, and I think that comes from us having a good time doing it. We're making the show we wanna make and the viewers are joining us for the ride.

Now that the show has firmly found its idenity, do you think that puts the inevitable Entourage  comparisons to rest?
It's ridiculous to not make the comparison. Entourage is finishing up its run, we share Steve Levinson and Mark Wahlberg, it's HBO, it's the same age range, but the show simply doesn't work and it's not good if we're operating from a place of comparing ourselves to Entourage.

The reality of the situation is [series creator] Ian Edelman created this show because this was a combination of his life and his fantasy life. He's very involved with fashion, a lot of people on the show are the people that he's known. The love stories are situations that he's gone through. That had nothing to do with what created Entourage. 

We're on HBO, we're going to get a lot of the Entourage audience. People are going to make that comparison but we're not operating from that place and it's simply a different show. I remember when The Sopranos came out everyone was like, "Oh, it's just Analyze This as a TV show." And, you know, in the first episodes, yeah, how could you not make that comparison? There's mafia and there's therapy but eventually it found its own voice.

Because we're not operating from a place of reacting to Entourage, as we go on people will relate to us just based on How To Make It In America. I remember when American Pie came out, everyone was like, "It's just Porky's for this time," but now people refer to American Pie when a new teen movie comes out, then another movie's going to come out and they're gonna use that as the comparison.

People need some baseline to operate from like, "Oh, it's like this," but from a creative standpoint we're just making our show and we're just being honest and making the best show we can. As the show continues, more and more we'll stand on our own—and I think we already are. A lot of people are just watching the show for what it is now.

So if you do come back for a season three, what can we expect for Kappo then? You mentioned that up until now he was in danger of becoming a crutch....
I don't know man. Just for superstition I try to not count my chickens before they've hatched, but I know that Kappo's world is falling apart. Any crutch that Ben and Cam had in Kappo is no longer there. The money's going away and it's becoming more about their friendship.

 

We had a ridiculously fun time making [American Reunion]. From my point of view, the movie is win-win because it was retarded how much fun we had.

 

The thing about Kappo is, he's sort of a business savant. He's too young to be as successful as he already is, and it's because he's got a great business head on his shoulders. He's becoming a consultant for Ben and Cam, he's a different voice than the people that are around them. The season ends not so great for Kappo but not too tragically. It leaves Kappo in an interesting place.

We create fun cliffhangers on this show. We put characters in tough situations, but we leave open the possibility of success. So we shall see.

At the very least it's safe to say he's going to be on similar financial ground as Ben and Cam.
If not worse. As much money as these Wall St. guys make, the bigger they are the harder they fall. He's got a lot, but he's also got a lot to lose, so there'll definitely be a change, wherever he winds up after the finale.

Keeping with this hypothetical third season, are there any members of the cast that you would like to share more scenes with?
I got to work with Luis Guzmán a little bit and that was fun, he's an incredible energy on set. One of the most unique people in the world to work with. Me and Lake [Bell] had a couple of scenes this year and that was fun, but I always wish I could do more with her.

Like I said, I'm a fan, so just like everyone else I'm eager and excited to see what they have for me. Whatever they've written for me I always have fun with. We have a great core group of actors and I'm excited to work with everybody, but the people I have worked with the least are Lake and Luis. I'd be excited to work with them some more.

Tags: eddie-kaye-thomas, how-to-make-it-in-america, hbo, american-reunion, kid-cudi, luis-guzman, lake-bell
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