When you think Henry Simmons, the six-foot-four actor best known for his role on NYPD BLUE, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t the fact that this man has to, well, man up. But that’s precisely what he’ll be doing tonight at 8:30PM on ABC when his new ensemble comedy series premieres. So just what is it like playing Grant Sweet, the beacon of manliness that is supposed to serve as a shining example for three Playstation playing, skin cream wearing thirty-somethings (Mather Zickel, Christopher Moynihan and Dan Fogler)? We recently had the opportunity to chat with the actor to find out just that.
As someone best known for his dramatic work, MAN UP! is a bit of a departure for you as an actor. Is comedy something you’ve been looking to do for a while now?
Henry Simmons: MAN UP! was a great marriage of this character and what I’ve been working on. I’ll be honest with you, I really wanted to do comedy or probably about 5 years now. So much so that I started working on comedy before Pilot season hit because I wanted to be ready and this project came which was just a blessing from God, a gift.
You’re introduced in the pilot as the new man in Kenny’s (Dan Fogler) ex Brenda’s (Amanda Detmer) life. Is it safe to say that your relationship with the three men of MAN UP will get off to a rocky start?
It is and there will continue to be tension between my character and Kenny, but eventually that will go away as the writers incorporate me into the group so it’s not just three guys now it’s four guys. Grant’s the kind of guy you think has it together and all figured out, but as we go on you find that he’s very strange. He’s working on a different level than everyone else and I just think he’s in another world.
Having spent the better part of the summer working in a beautiful bubble completely devoid of reviews and ratings reports, do you look towards tonight’s premiere as somewhat of a judgement day, just Jow nervous are you?
The thing is that I’m actually totally fine right now because everything that I see, all the scripts, everything’s hilarious. Admittedly, I’m probably a little bias, but it’s hard to make me laugh and these scripts are just so funny. Plus, I’ve seen some of the upcoming episodes cut together and they’re funny, so I’m not really nervous because I believe so much in what we’re putting out there. That said, I’m not gonna lie, come premiere night I’m going to be nervous.
So much has been made this season about the resurgence of the comedy genre. Does the popularity of the half-hour laugher help or hurt the show?
I think it helps just because of Tim Allen’s popularity. We’re following LAST MAN STANDING and I watched his show and love it. It feels great just to follow his show and I think we have a show that is just as fun and funny.
Off camera, where would you say you fall on the scale of manliness, can you chance a tire?
[Laughs] Yeah I can change a tire on some cars, not all! Look, my thinking is the definition of man for me, is if I can provide for my family. If I can do that then I’m doing a good job.
MAN UP! premieres on Monday October 18th at 8:30PM on ABC.