A Chat with ‘My Name is Earl’ Jason Lee and Greg Garcia

One of the best comedies on network is “My Name is Earl”, an award-winning hit here and abroad with fans in Germany, the UK and Australia. 

The show anchors the NBC Thursday night lineup with the (mis)adventures of Jason Lee’s befuddled Earl, Jaime Pressley’s scheming Joy, Ethan Suplee’s dim Randy and Eddie Steeples’ lethargic Darnell as they try to do right, most of the time.

Due to the recent WGA writers’ strike, only 13 of the 20 episodes originally planned for the third season were filmed. NBC will now present new episodes beginning April 3rd. The series is produced by Greg Garcia’s production shingle, Amigos de Garcia and Twentieth Century Fox Television.

The return of “My Name is Earl” on April 3rd will feature a one-hour episode from 8:00 to 9:00.

Lee and Garcia

Lee and Garcia

Monsters and Critics joined a few onliners and spoke to creator and executive producer Greg Garcia and series star Jason Lee about the series. 

What was it like to get back to work after the strike? 

Greg Garcia: It was very hectic for us.  The writer’s strike ended on a Wednesday and the following Tuesday we had a table read.  So we basically hit the ground running when we got back and we kind of had some ideas of what we wanted to do but we had to really put it in overdrive and get the scripts ready and in order to do nine episodes coming back, we’ve had to continue, kind of keep up that pace.  And hopefully the quality of the show doesn’t suffer.  So far I’m real happy with the things we’ve been doing.

Jason, how about you?  How did you spend the time off?

Jason Lee: Wondering when I’d be back to work because, you know, there’s a lot of speculation when there’s something like a strike happening.  Some people say a couple months and it’ll pass.  Some people say a year, you know.  So there was a lot up in the air.

And yeah.  I mean, I was happy to get back to work.  I enjoyed the break.  It was a nice little break but then I was told that we were going to do nine episodes and possibly consecutively, which would have been nerve-racking because the most we’ve ever done consecutively was seven.  So we ended up doing three with a week off and now we’re doing six in a row.  We’ve crammed a lot in to finish season three for the audience.

What was the atmosphere on the set that first day back?

Jason Lee: It was literally just like, you know, a weekend had passed and we were all back to work.  I think we benefit from having a very loose, fun, high-energy, friendly set and it was just very familiar.  And I think everybody was relieved to have jobs again.

What was it like working with Alyssa Milano and Paris Hilton?

Greg Garcia: Well that’s probably two different answers.  This is Greg.  I’ll say that, you know, Paris just came in for one day and did a quick little thing with us and really had a great sense of humor about herself and played herself.  And I’m looking forward to the audience, you know, seeing her quick little cameo.

And Alyssa, well Alyssa , you know, we’ve worked with now so much that she’s kind of just – feels like one of the gang.  It’s – we don’t even introduce her at table reads anymore as a guest actor because she’s here – she’s here a lot and we actually found some really fun things to do with her this – these nine coming back after the strike.

Jason?

Jason Lee: Yeah.  Well, having had a huge, huge childhood crush on Alyssa Milano, it was very surreal meeting her and getting to work with her.  I was pretty fascinated with how kind of short she is.  She said she’s 5’3” on a good day and, you know, I thought she was very cute.  And she kind of definitely fulfilled those sort of – the vision I had as a kid of, you know, what it would be like to one day meet.

Greg Garcia: And I actually had a childhood crush on Paris Hilton.  So I’m trying to arrange a double date with the four of us to go out but Paris, I think, is not interested and my wife’s not interested and…

Jason Lee: Yeah, I kind of get the feeling that – with Paris Hilton, it was one of those, “Oh, I love the show.”  Guarantee you, she’s never seen an episode.

Jason, tell us a little bit about how your chemistry with Jaimie developed over the years.

Jason Lee: I don’t – I just think Greg Garcia was smart in terms of casting who he cast.  Just one of those things that you know is going to work.  And, you know, I think Jaime being from the South and Eddie’s sort of inherently being a bit slow, I say that as a compliment.

And Ethan and I have been friends for many, many years.  And , I knew I wanted Ethan from the very beginning because he has a sweetness and a likeability.  I think we’re all just kind of approachable, accessible people that like our jobs and we’re not afraid to embarrass ourselves on film.

And there’s nothing fancy about what we’re doing.  And luckily, Jaime is not vain.  She likes to make fun of herself and she doesn’t care how ridiculous she looks with some of those hairdos.  So we’re all just regular folks just having a good time.