photo credit: Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Josh Malina, star of the hit ABC show Scandal is heading to South Jersey on August 4th at 7pm for a great fundraiser at Beth Judah. He chatted with me about the event as well as his professional life as an actor, prankster, and poker player. Let's check it out:
ME: Welcome to the show Josh.
MALINA: Thank you for having me.
ME: I should say Shalom Chaver
ME: You’re coming to the Atlantic City doing a fun fundraiser on August 4th at Beth Judah. How does it feel coming to the area?
MALINA: I’m very excited, i know it’s an area that’s gone through a lot in the last year and I’m excited to see how things are going, and to be welcomed into another thriving Jewish community. That’s one of the great things about going around and doing these things, it’s just heartening to go from place to place and realize that there are great, active Jewish communities all over the place?
ME: That's true, you come from that type of background right?
MALINA: I’m a Yeshiva boy, and I’m the son of two very good Jewish parents who really instilled in me, a love of Judaism, and made that sort of my prime identity and also always...got in addition to the rituals and observances of Judaism they always got the spirit of it, the ruach of it if you will, and the importance of being a part of Tikkun Olam, trying to help leave the world a better place than we found it. I have really really wonderful parents.
ME: What can fans expect when you come down here to Beth Judah?
MALINA: They can expect that I will talk about the only topics on which I am an authority, myself, my career (laughs). Really what I talk about is my background as a Jew and as an actor and then interesting ways on how the two can overlap.
ME: That’s cool, how you can do both, be an actor and be in Hollywood?
MALINA: Yea exactly, I call the talk - half tongue in cheek, How to Make it in Hollywood and Remain a Mensch. It’s not clear that I’ve made it in Hollywood or that I am a Mensch, so I have to just ask people to grant me that so that it’s it’s not a spirited defense of myself as a person or an actor (laughs) but it’s basically what I talk about. My struggle to make it in this ridiculous profession of mine and be a decent person at the same time.
ME: Well you do seem like a decent person and you have so many fans. You’ve been on the West Wing, and the hit show Scandal playing David Rosen. How cool is it to be on that set?
MALINA: I’ve been very very lucky. My career like most actors has been a bit of a roller coaster. But at least the high points have been very high. I’ve been very lucky to at least work for people who have been very good writers, like Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin, he has been a very good friend to me. He was a friend before he was a boss, and I’ve benefited from the fact that we know each other well, and he likes to have me around (laughs). I don’t know if he just thinks I’m a great actor or he likes to have me around when he’s eating (laughing). Either way my feeling is, I’m the lucky one. Scandal is fantastic, it’s similar to the West Wing, we have a great ensemble of really nice people who are very good at what they do, and great fun to be around, which is important because when you work on a tv series, especially a 1 hour drama, you spend more time with your colleague then you do with your own family, the hours are insane, so you get along well.
ME: You are known as a prankster on the set, what have you done to prank the people on the cast of Scandal?
MALINA: You’re not wrong. I’ve done a lot of things, my humor prank wise kind of goes from the somewhat sophisticated to the super unsophisticated. On the very low end I like to do things like take toothpaste and Vaseline and put it on the door handles of people’s trailers and in their car doors, stuff like that. That’s literally 3rd grade level. The more sophisticated stuff, and of course I got this from my son, there’s a website where you can call people but push to their caller ID any number you like so it appears you are calling from somewhere else, and then in addition you can disguise your voice. So I did a lot of calling of my actor friends and my colleagues on Scandal as if it were coming from the Executive Producer, and then I would disguise my voice as a woman and then basically say “Shonda Rhimes needs to talk to you, we understand there was an incident”, so everyone was freaking out that they were in trouble.
ME: One of the other things you are known for, and you’re a nice guy, but your twitter tweets are kind of shocking, so where does that come from?
MALINA: I’m less nice on Twitter, that is true. My Twitter persona, not so Menschy. Let’s see, I’m a weird mix like most people, I would say I really am a nice guy. Maybe I was weaned on Don Rickels and maybe that’s a problem, so I do a little insult humor, especially if you follow along. I don't even mean most of it, I take shots at the people on my show, I constantly am bagging on Kerry Washington, whom I adore. Occasionally I get into actual humorous fights with people on twitter, because my feeling is, ahhh it’s a stranger. If they want to take a shot at me, I’ll take a shot at them. That’s half the fun of Twitter. Don’t take it too seriously, it’s largely an outlet of self promotion and dumb jokes, and that’s what I use it for. Although I know I created a Twitter persona that is kind of Jerky, but I enjoy that, I need that outlet.
ME: You’re also the Co-creator and Producer of the Celebrity Poker Showdown, tell us about that?
MALINA: Well I’m a longtime Poker player, I enjoy the game. I think I first got my love for poker when I was a very young kid, my dad taught me a version of Go Fish where you were allowed to lie a preset number of times, in other words, you can each lie a total of 3 times...his version of poker, and then I discovered there was this much more sophisticated version and then I got hooked. So I’ve been playing for a long time. A dear friend of mine named Andy Newman had been playing in a Hollywood game that has a lot of actors, and people of note, and it’s always very funny. A while back we just kind of simultaneously got the same idea to do this Celebrity Poker Showdown where it would be actors and comedians playing for their charities and it worked out great. We ended up making 48 episodes and raised a ton of money for charity, and I think that the show is a lot of fun.
ME: Do you every plan on coming to Atlantic City with the show?
MALINA: The show is no longer in production with Bravo, I would love to revamp it, and Atlantic City would be a fine destination for it.
ME: Have you been to Atlantic City before?
MALINA: I have been there, but not in many years. I grew up in New York in New Rochelle, The burbs, but it’s been a very long time so I’m happy to be returning.
ME: If you could act with anybody who would it be?
MALINA: That’s a great question. I’ll pick two. I would say, on the comedy side it would be Will Ferrell. He’s just brilliant. Last night I was with my nephew and he was showing me a blooper reel with him, and I thought, that looks like fun...and on the drama side, I’m a huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan. I feel like whenever I watch him, and maybe this is a reason why I wouldn’t want to work with him, but he’s doing something at a completely other level. So I would just like to be there to see him do what he does. But I might get out-shown if I actually acted with him (laughs).
ME: Is there anything else in your future that we should look forward to seeing besides upcoming episodes of Scandal?
MALINA: Let’s see, I wrapped a movie called the Young Kieslowski which is just a great coming of age movie in which I’ve not reached, sadly I can’t play the lead role in these coming of age things that I would really like, I am now the dad. So I play Kieslowski’s dad...I don’t know when it will come out, but hopefully it will go to festivals . I had a great time on that, I’m looking forward to seeing it myself.
ME: Do you have a website where we can find more information about you?
MALINA: Hmm I should create one right now. If even having heard my description, you want to follow me on Twitter, you may not want to and be prepared if you do, I got one of the coveted @ accounts (laughs), @joshmalina or you can find me on Facebook under Joshua Malina. I like to mix it up so I’m not that easy to find.
This will be an amazing evening! For tickets, please call 609-822-7116 or go to www.bethjudah.org to purchase online. There are also special VIP upgrade available if you would like to meet him.
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.