Lucky Hank Q&A — Oscar Nunez on Dean Rose’s Uncanny Ability to Put Out Fires
From the executive producers of Better Call Saul and The Office comes Lucky Hank, starring Bob Odenkirk and Mireille Enos. Meet Professor Hank Devereaux (Odenkirk), the English department chairman at an underfunded college in a ho-hum town where mediocrity prevails. Life’s been throwing him some curveballs lately with his wife Lily’s (Enos) new career goals, constant chaos at work, and the return of his estranged father. With that, Hank spirals into a midlife meltdown taking everyone with him. In this interview with amc.com we speak with Oscar Nunez about Dean Rose’s perilous positioning at Railton, his commonalities with Oscar from The Office, and which Lucky Hank co-star he’s shared the screen with the most over his career.
Q: Dean Rose seems like an affable guy who finds himself caught in a lot of sticky situations because of his position at Railton. It makes for some amazing moments of humor, both cringe-inducing and not. What was it that initially drew you to this project? Was it the scripts, the showrunners, or maybe you were a fan of the novel?
A: Paul Lieberstein. We worked on The Office for a long time, for many years, and he accumulated a library of information on myself and my background that could be embarrassing and problematic — he holds that over me every once and a while. This was one of those occasions. He goes, "If you don't want this information to come out…" [Laughs] Now that I say this out loud — have you seen the new Luther movie with Idris Elba? Well, it's horrific when you watch it. Andy Serkis is amazing in it. Now that I say it out loud, that's kind of the premise of it. Holding things over people and making them do horrible things.
Anyway, so Paul called me and he's like, "Hey!" At first, I read for the part that Cedric [Yarbrough] plays, a professor, but I wasn't quite right for it. Then Paul got back to me and he's like, "You know, there's a part for a dean which you would be perfect for," and I said, "Yes, of course." I read the script and I loved it! I love the world that it takes place in.
Q: In looking at the different characters in the show, there seems to be two camps. On the one hand you have what I’ve dubbed agitators like Hank and Paul, and on the other you have mediators like Dean Rose and Lily. It’s a good skill to have! It seems like Dean Rose is just trying to keep Railton from falling apart—he must be a fun but anxiety-inducing character to play.
A: Now that you put it that way, I'm like, "Well, that's kind of a little bit like Oscar in The Office." But Jacob’s the dean and I don’t think he realized that half his job was going to be untangling bureaucratic politics. You run the faculty but a lot of it is budget, especially in trying times, so he's kind of caught between it all. I don’t know if that’s what he envisioned based on the job description when you become dean of a school. But there it is. And I agree, yes, not unlike The Office, some of these characters are in the agitation camp that make things happen, and the other side is throwing water on the fire. It makes for good TV!
Q: Having had a chance to speak with Bob, Mireille and so much of the cast it really seems that the set was a place of collaboration and joy! Your roots are in sketch comedy and improvisation and with such great scene partners it must have been a thrill to bounce off of each other. In particular your scenes with Bob are just great. What was it like on set and did you feel invigorated by that on set energy?
A: Oh, it was the best! Are you kidding me? It was great that Bob Odenkirk is in it. But then I didn't expect the cast to be so amazing! Everyone else is great! Cedric [Yarbrough], and Brian Huskey who's in one of the episodes [Episode 2].
Q: There really are so many awesome overlaps between you and the other cast members. It's like one to zero degrees of separation. Immediately I thought of People of Earth because you know Brian from that show. Correct?
You’re connected to so many cast members between People of Earth, The Office, knowing Diedrich [Bader] from American Housewife, plus you were in the Reno 911! movie.
Yes, I was with Cedric on Reno. And you can’t forget about Chris Gethard [who plays Jeffrey Epstein]!
There are so many wonderful overlaps. I'm assuming that familiarity and some of those friendships made coming to this new set and building this new world more comfortable and less daunting than it could have been.
Totally. Chris and I were talking and we're like, "Oh, we've worked on five things together now!" So, he's the guy I've worked with the most in this business since I've been getting paid for it. So that's kind of fun!
Lucky Hank is a great show because of the ensemble cast. To have the best scene partners like that, it must be so much fun.
Yes, it reminds me a lot of The Office. It's a lot of friendly, old faces and some new people that I'd never met but I've admired, so it's a treat. And we shot in Vancouver. It could not be better.
Q: In Ep 1 Hank talks about “the misery business” always outperforming the “happiness business,” and it’s a concept that stuck with me. I've been asking all the cast members, how do you disrupt “the misery business?” What are the little day to day things that bring you joy?
A: We live in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. My front yard is lovely and so is my backyard. There are hawks, coyotes, and deer up here. I have my wife, my kid, and my dog, so it just doesn't get better than that. But of course, I'm very happy when I'm complaining about things. I like that. So, I have TV and I have a computer and if I get toohappy I just go and look at some crazy, horrible facts. For some added joy, we go out with friends when we can and stuff like that, but it's just really nice up here. We're in the city but we're not. It's a nice little oasis. I'm happiest at home, I guess.
Bob had a similar answer too.
We're at that age. We're at that age where it's the end. I take comfort in a shawl and a good book, and it sounds horrible. I sound like I'm 95.
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