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Paul Blart: Mall Cop - Kevin James interview

Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Interview by Rob Carnevale

KEVIN James made a name for himself in long-running television show King of Queens, as well as Will Smith’s sidekick in Hitch. Since then, he’s formed a hugely successful business partnership with Adam Sandler, following their double act in I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry.

He talks to us about his latest movie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and why the Die Hard homage (in a shopping mall and featuring an overweight security guard) proved such an amusing concept, as well as doing his own stunts, overcoming his fear of heights and reuniting with Sandler again (who serves as producer).

Q. I gather you came up with the idea of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and you share many of his sensibilities?
Kevin James: Yeah, you know we have a lot of similarities. He tries very, very hard. He takes his job way too seriously and kind of gets in his own way a lot of the time… and I do that too! So, it was fun to play this guy though.

Q. Was it refreshing to play an action hero that didn’t require too much bulking up?
Kevin James: [Laughs] Yes! It was nice to be able to be the action hero and look at me and go: “Yeah, that’s good. We’re going to do it that way!” It’s different because I haven’t seen too many action guys with my physique! It makes quite a nice change.

Q. But it was still physically demanding and I gather you wanted to do as many of your own stunts as possible?
Kevin James: Yeah, I wanted to do as much as I could. Everything I could do I did myself. It was painful at the time and I got a lot of injuries. But we’d watch the dailies and see what we were getting and we were laughing… so we knew we were on the right track.

Q. How nifty are you now on a personal transporter?
Kevin James: That thing was hard to learn. It takes a little while and you do get used to it, but you have to really trust your body weight. I did wipe out a couple of times… I’m not going to lie to you.

Q. And I gather you had to overcome your fear of heights for one stunt?
Kevin James: I hate heights. I’m not a heights guy at all. There’s one scene where they drop me through a skylight and that’s one scene where they had to have my stunt double help me out a little bit. But they’d just keep raising me up and I hated it. I thought they could drop me from just 10ft and that would be enough to see it. They call it a prove it shot. But after I did 10ft once, they said: “Let’s try it again one more time.” You’re in this harness and you’re locked in, and they then pulled me up 30 or 40ft, which I hated.

Q. And you did it twice?
Kevin James: Yes, I had to do it twice, which wasn’t good for my underwear.

Q. Do you have any tips for overcoming a personal fear such as that?
Kevin James: Yeah, I think if you’re afraid of heights get yourself locked in a harness and just have very nasty people raise you up and not let you go. I think you’ll get over it quick.

Q. In the midst of all the action there’s a really romantic interlude between Paul and Amy on a personal transporter going through the shopping mall…
Kevin James: Well, they had to build a special one for that because there’s no way… I can barely fit on it myself, so to have her on it as well would have been impossible. It was a weird balance thing, but they built it and it was a nice little scene to do.

Q. Are you a fan of Die Hard?
Kevin James: I’m a huge fan of Die Hard. This is basically a fun Die Hard in a mall, kind of parody movie where it’s me instead of Bruce Willis saving the day, which makes me laugh.

Q. Will there be a Paul Blart sequel?
Kevin James: You mean for all the questions I haven’t answered in this one? [Laughs] Probably not. I don’t know. I think the first one says it.

Q. This reunites you with Adam Sandler, in the sense that he produces Paul Blart. Is that partnership a dream come true for you?
Kevin James: It’s the best. He’s just a great friend and he knows so much. He’s been doing it for years, so he can see what’s wrong with something and fix it and he adds everything from comedy to heart. He added more heart to the movie, and an incredible soundtrack. All the movie in his movies always takes you back to a certain time, and that’s what I like about them.

Q. Are you working with him again?
Kevin James: Yeah we have two movies coming up, so I’m excited about that. He’s also producing The Zookeeper.

Q. You made a name for yourself on the hit show King of Queens, which ran for nine years. Do you miss that?
Kevin James: I miss the people mostly. You see everybody on a daily basis and it’s like a family. I saw them more than my real family, so you get used to that. So, to not have that after a while is a little tough. But we keep in touch and, who knows, some day I’d love to get back there and perform in front of a live audience. Maybe, we’ll do it again.