The Kevin Hart limited series “True Story” on Netflix centers on a world-famous comedian who pulled is into a web of murder. He also has to contend with a fan, played by Theo Rossi, who is so dedicated his enthusiasm crosses over into stalking.
“One of my favorite films is Martin Scorsese’s ‘The King of Comedy’ and the Rupert Pupkin character played by Robert De Niro,” said Rossi. ”I can’t tell you how much I’ve studied that character and the strangeness of celebrity culture. I started my career as an extra and I was on the outside of this business for so long, so I was always fascinated by this uplifting of celebrity because my life was the opposite of it. I love looking at people who are on the fringe and how they operate.”
Rossi is best known for his roles on Marvel’s “Luke Cage” series and the outlaw biker gang drama “Sons of Anarchy,” and when asked about a cringeworthy moment from his career, it was a memory from the latter that came to mind.
“This story, while rather embarrassing, is extremely fitting,” he said. “I have zero ego and my whole thing is, why not? So I’m going to tell you this story.”
My worst moment …
“This was the third season of ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ It was 2010 and physically I was much bigger, especially Season 3. I was 50 pounds heavier than I am right now. I was working out with weights and I was just enormous because, in my mind, I thought this guy would be super big. He had the mohawk and the tattoos. I was still finding who he was, because in the first two seasons I really didn’t do that much.
“So we’re shooting in downtown L.A. in this makeshift prison and it’s seven stories and we’re on the roof. It’s super hot — so hot that the blacktop on the roof was melting. There are all these extras and me and a bunch of the main characters.
“And they told me the night before: ‘Hey, you’re gonna have your shirt off. You’re gonna be working out.’ And remember, I was big. Maybe too big. And people say the camera adds 10 pounds. And I got in my head. It was one of those things where you imagine what you want to look like and then you kind of look at yourself and go, I don’t look like that. My ego got in the way.
“So someone gives me this idea: You should drink this tea Smooth Move and you’ll lose water weight, or something like that. So me, being an extreme person, I think: Well, I don’t have a lot of time, so I might as well just make an entire jug of this and I’m going to drink until we’re shooting the scenes. And I put the whole box of tea bags in this thing. What did I think was going to happen in 24 hours?
“So we’re seven stories up. It’s incredibly hot. I’m wearing an orange prison uniform and white slip-on prison shoes that keep getting stuck in the tar. And to go to the bathroom, you need to run down seven stories to the ground floor and hit a port-a-potty. But I keep chugging that Smooth Move.
“We’re about to shoot and I just kept thinking, this is not good. This is not good for me, this is not good for anybody (laughs) because I’m not feeling too well. I was feeling like Jeff Daniels in ‘Dumb and Dumber’ when he took the Turbolax. And I just looked at one of my castmates and I was like, ‘I’ve got a problem.’ And he’s like, ‘We’re about to shoot.’ And I said, ‘I’ve got a problem. I gotta go.’ And he’s like, ‘They’re not going to stop. There’s hundreds of people here, we gotta shoot, we gotta go.’ And I’m like, ‘We gotta go, but I gotta go.’
“My shoes are getting stuck in the tar, one shoe comes off but I don’t care, I just disappeared — I ran down those seven flights to that port-a-potty. And I gotta be honest, I thought I was going to live there the rest of my life (laughs).
“The production assistants came down, the assistant director came down and I could hear them on the walkie-talkies like, ‘Does anyone have eyes on Theo?’ But I could not get out of that port-a-potty. It was an absolute nightmare. And I remember thinking in that moment: There’s gotta be a better way than this.
“It felt like I was in there for seven days (laughs). It was probably a good 20 minutes. I got quite comfortable in there. There was nothing I could do — it was either going down there or it was going down somewhere else. And remember, it was really hot. Do you know how hot port-a-potties get? There was a P.A. there when I came out and I said, ‘Avoid anything to do that — if you have to wrap it in caution tape or get it out of here, do what you gotta do.’
“And I was fine for the rest of the day. It was like I was walking on clouds because there was nothing left! I felt fantastic!
“At the end of the day when I went home, I was exhausted. I was thirsty. I was hungry. I was embarrassed. I was contemplating life. I was contemplating the career I chose. I was contemplating my ego. I was contemplating everything.”
Was he worried about getting in trouble for disappearing from the set like that?
“People have been fired for way less. When I returned to set, I just started shaking my head like, ‘Don’t even ask.’ So most people went from ‘We’re going to yell at you’ to ‘We’re concerned about you.’ And they were like, ‘Is everything all right?’ They didn’t know if I got a call about someone passing away or what. And I just said, ‘Nah man, I just feel really sick. I don’t know if it was something I ate.’ And when you say that, nobody can really come back at you and be like, ‘What do you mean you’re sick?’
“I think it was probably my best acting: ‘I don’t know if I have a parasite or what’s going on.’ And I played it off and then we shot the scene and it ended up being a really funny episode for that character.”
The takeaway …
“(Laughs) Make sure there are bathrooms really close if you ingest Smooth Move. Make sure you have access to a clean, ventilated bathroom, No. 1.
“No. 2: Don’t do it.
“And No. 3, maybe do your work earlier than the night before (laughs). Not such a smooth move on my part.
“So I have become the ultimate preparer.”