... Ken Jeong, Actor
Dr. Kuni looked familiar to you in "Knocked Up" right? Well he should!
Dr. Kuni was played by Ken Jeong, who is known to Dunderheads as "Bill" from Michael's improv class! You know Bill! He was the fortune teller who Michael whispered to that he had a gun!
As we spend the summer looking to shine light on the people in the Office Universe, we were able to find Ken who spent some time with us to lend his Two Cents and Five Answers!
TwoCents: Please tell TheTwoCents readers a little about yourself and how you got your start in "show biz".
Ken Jeong: I started doing theater while in college, got into med school, turned to standup comedy, moved to LA after my residency, got on TV doing standup and ultimately got back into acting. I'm glad I got all that in one long run-on sentence.
TC: You have appeared in shows such as: "Crossing Jordan", "Grounded for Life" and recently in the film "Knocked Up". What path led you to "The Office" to play Bill in the "Email Surveillance" episode?
KJ: I owe it all to Allison Jones, the casting director of "The Office." She is one of the most amazing people in the business. Prior to the Office, she would bring me in to read for other shows she was casting and was always supportive. I ended up reading for director Paul Feig (co-creator of "Freaks & Geeks") and writer/producer Jennifer Celotta and got the part.
I still can't believe that I did the Office. I am such a huge fan of the show and it's still my favorite show on TV. It's really hard to adapt something like the BBC version which had such a loyal American fanbase (myself included) and make it its own. The US version is so good no one compares to the British version anymore. No small feat.
And from "The Office," Allison Jones invited me to read for Knocked Up, which she was casting. She's the best.
TC: In "Email Surveillance" you are a part of Michael's improv class. What experience did you have with improv before doing the show?
KJ: I was in an improv group many moons ago, and when I first moved to LA I took a few Groundlings classes. I definitely loved seeing Michael Scott always begin every scene with a gun. Anyone who's ever taken an improv class appreciates that bit.
TC: How much of the scenes of the improv class were actually improvised? How much was filmed that wasn't used? Steve Carell is known to be a fun improvisor. Did he do a lot on the set?
KJ: They would shoot the scenes as scripted the first few takes, and then we would improvise after that. Steve Carell is amazing. I was starstruck. I couldn't hold a straight face most of the time.
I think my favorite outtake was when Michael Scott was kicking me during an improv scene and calling me Jim, in reference to Jim not inviting him to his BBQ in the episode. Michael Scott taking his hostility for Jim out on me was awesome.
The scene where I say "Good job" to Michael and he says Good job, Bill... not" was improvised. And Paul Feig would let us shoot it many different times. Steve Carell did so many outtakes, each one different. "Good job Bill... for sucking the comedy out of the room." "Good job Bill... who stinks at improv." It took me all the strength I had not to laugh.
The Office was definitely my favorite TV appearance.
TC: What future projects do you have coming up that the fans can look for you in?
KJ: Knocked Up is still out in theaters. Judd Apatow (the director & writer) is a genius. Knocked Up was the most amazing project I've ever been a part of. Words can't describe how much I loved the experience. I owe my career to Knocked Up and Judd. I learned so much from those guys.
I have a role in Pineapple Express starring Seth Rogen & James Franco (Judd is the producer), due out next summer. It's part stoner flick, part action movie. Someone described it as Knocked Up meets Reservoir Dogs. It will blow your mind.
I guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Boston Legal, and they will air in the fall.
I'm currently shooting a new film, All About Steve, starring Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, & Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers).
**TheTwoCents Bonus Question!!**
TC: If someone were to climb off a desert island and only have time to watch five movies to learn what American cinema is all about, what five movies would you show them?
KJ: Godfather II, Goodfellas, Borat, Spinal Tap & Knocked Up.
Many thanks go out to Ken Jeong for his time and for sharing his Two Cents & Five Answers with us!
Check back next week as we again shine the light on someone else from the "Office" Universe!