January 2003
Kangaroo Jack : An Interview with Anthony Anderson & Jerry O’Connell

(L-r) ANTHONY ANDERSON and JERRY O'CONNELL in Castle Rock Entertainment's family action adventure comedy, "Kangaroo Jack," distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.Kangaroo Jack : An Interview with Anthony Anderson & Jerry O’Connell

Walking in with matching cream Sean Jean valor sweat suits, Anthony Anderson and Jerry O’Connell sat down with Blackfilm.com to discuss their comedic friendship both on and off the set of their duo debut in Kangaroo Jack.

AH: Did you two know each other prior to this film?

JO: You thought I grew up in Compton, right? You thought we had the same mother, or like Different Strokes!

AA: [Laughing] Its hard to believe but we met only once before. We were on the set over at Twentieth Century Fox and I was there pitching a movie that sold and Jerry was there pitching a movie that he sold, and he was just walking by when one of the producers that I was walking with pointed him out. He called him over and we had a mutual respect for each other’s work because I empathize with him being the fat kid in Stand By Me!

JO: Come on…

(L-r) ANTHONY ANDERSON and JERRY O'CONNELL in Castle Rock Entertainment's family action adventure comedy, "Kangaroo Jack," distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. AA: Okay, the husky kid, in Stand By Me. A year later, there is a script he is attached to and since we are represented by the same agency, they told us it would be a good idea for us to meet up before we auditioned. So we met an hour before…

JO: Let me tell the rest of the story.

AA: Sorry, was I boring you?

JO: No, I just want to tell it from my standpoint because I think its more surprising from my point of view. We meet up for breakfast at Norms. Anthony was surprised. He said, “I did not know White people came to Norms. You are an international movie star and you are getting the $1.99 Steak & Eggs. Good for you; keeping it real.”

So we are going to meet Jerry Brukheimer and it’s a little nerve-racking. We run the scene once and I wanted to do it again. I asked Anthony and he said, “No man, lets just get some breakfast.” I can’t believe he does not want to run them again.

So we get into the room and one of the scenes we had to do was a fight scene. Cut to Anthony holding me upside down by my ankles, on his back, spinning around. Everybody was laughing. We walked off of that set and directly onto a plane to Australia, literally. It was just ANTHONY ANDERSON in Castle Rock Entertainment's family action adventure comedy, "Kangaroo Jack," distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.that easy.

AA: That’s what forged our friendship immediately. You work with cats and you might be together a couple of months. We were together 5 ½ months in Australia. But at the end of the movie, when you wrap, maybe that friendship or relationship will last a month or two after that, and then it is rekindled at a premier for like a week, and then its over. Jerry and I have been the best of friends since the day we met. I can honestly say this is a lifelong friend of mine and we hang out and have fun.

JO: Awe man!!

AH: What was it like finding out during the test screenings that the audience wanted more of the Kangaroo and not you?

AA: The hell with the Kangaroo!

JO: Kangaroos are crazy, they are like deers, but deers on crack.

AA: We nicknamed them Whitney-roos!

JO: I wanna see a receipt! Show me some receipts!

Anthony and I did not like going near the real ones. So they had computer generated one where we acted with the air. And then they also had a special effects guy that wore a blue jumpsuit. I could not keep a straight face. Then they also had an animatronics Kangaroo, I called it the bionics Kangaroo because it was the people from Babe who did the mechanical pig. It’s not like the Muppets. It was motorized and everything could move – its eyes, head, cheeks, whiskers, and it looks very real. The scenes where [we are really interacting] with the kangaroo, I just knew it was going to be a moment like E.T. when they are saying goodbye. I really knew it would be about the kangaroo.

AA: Yeah, that’s when we knew. I’m just a little upset that Jerry and I did not get a little bit of love on the poster.

JO: I didn’t think he was gonna get the whole poster!

AA: Yeah, could we have least have been peaking around the jacket or something?

AH: Anthony, how did the Australian’s react to you as an African American?

AA: It was wild. They knew exactly who I was. When I go into these meetings now, where they tell me black films or black people cannot sell overseas, they will have to tell me something else. Now that I have worked abroad I see it. Secondly, what really blew my mind was that while we were in the outback, I was coming out of the bar with my stuntman and a buddy of mine who flew over to visit me. There were five Aboriginal youth in the parking lot. They wanted to touch my friend’s dreadlocks. They said they had never seen a Black American in person before; only in film. So I asked them what films? They went on to name five of my movies. Here we are in the outback with these five Aboriginal children with ages ranging from 7-18 and they knew exactly who I was. That was beautiful for me. Since we were working on sacred Aboriginal land – we had to get permission. The tribe would call ahead to the other tribes, letting them know that the Black actor, Anthony Anderson was coming to town. So every town that we went to, there was a family waiting for me with gifts. That was wonderful and makes this movie most memorable.

JO: When we walked downtown, he would have like tons of kids surrounding him. It reminded me of Ali and When We Were Kings.

AH: Tell us Jerry, did you already know how to beat-box before doing this movie?

JO: Actually, yes I did. I was born and raised in New York city so the two things I can do are beat-box and I can slam dunk donuts on a basketball court, I can slam doors, plus I can dance. Anthony and I were doing the first scene that takes place in New York City. The scene took like 3-weeks so Anthony and I had a lot of down time. We didn’t like going to our trailers, so Anthony and I liked hanging out with each other, as you can see by our dress today! (Noting the matching cream Sean Jean valor sweat suits). I would start beat boxing all the time and Anthony would start rapping. So when we get to the outback, there was this scene that [the director] was not happy with. He felt it needed something so he asked us to try that “spit rap thing.” It was pretty much adlibbed all by Anthony.

AH: How do you feel about the PG rating?

AA: Well, we always set out to make a PG-13 movie. It was never R or anything above that. We understood where they were going with it and what they wanted to do given the successes of all of the children oriented films that have been done over the past few years.

AH: Like Snowdogs?

AA: Yes, like Snowdogs, which I was up for. Thanks for reminding me.

AH: Will we see more of this duo in the future?

JO: It’s my goal that Anthony and I become the millennial Wilder and Pryor.

AA: Minus the freebase!

JO: Show me some receipts!

(L-r) JERRY O'CONNELL, ANTHONY ANDERSON and ESTELLA WARREN in Castle Rock Entertainment's family action adventure comedy, "Kangaroo Jack," distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. AH: So what is up next for you fellas?

JO: From Crossing Jordan, they have signed me up for my own series. We start shooting the pilot in the next couple of weeks.

AA: I’m gonna have my own show on The WB called, All About the Andersons.

AH: Thank you guys.

JO/AA: Thank you.