The star of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 knows all about characters who thrive when the odds are against them. He’s been there.
I’ve always loved the underdog.
I think most people do. In my case, it’s because I was one. When I was born, I weighed less than eight pounds! I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t chew solid foods and I’d go to the bathroom right in my pants. I cried a lot, too.But I overcame the odds and conquered all those things.
When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Rocky. I can still remember throwing punches in my seat, trying to will Rocky into beating the invincible Apollo Creed.Ever since then, I’ve always rooted for the underdog, both in movies and in life. There’s something truly American about being born with nothing and making it on your own, with only your brains, your talent or whatever it is that makes you special. And when you come up against bigger, stronger, faster people, to not give up because beating them at their own game, when all logic says you have no chance, is the sweetest victory of all.
We love underdogs because we’ve all been there in one way or another—when every bit of reason and sense would tell you that you have absolutely no shot, but you toss reason aside and jump in anyway. And that’s what motivates Paul Blart, mall cop, to put on his uniform every day—the hope that he can defy the odds.
That’s the kind of guy I wanna see come through in the clutch. When nobody thinks Paul Blart can save the day, he’s just getting warmed up. He’s gonna be the hero. He’s like Batman—no, wait, he’s betterthan Batman. You heard me. No offense, but anybody can be a hero with 180 pounds of sculpted muscle and all of the gadgets a billion bucks can buy. All Blart has to work with is some non-lethal pepper spray and a wicked pair of love handles.
When I was growing up, my dad sold insurance and my mom took care of me and my brother and sister. I wasn’t the greatest student. I dropped out of college and got a job driving a forklift, which I thought I was pretty good at; but I got fired, so apparently not. After that, believe it or not, I worked as a personal trainer at a gym. I’m not saying I was any good; I would lose count of the reps my client was doing, and then I’d be like, “Uh, that’s good enough—let’s go grab a chocolate energy bar.”
When I started doing standup, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I didn’t have industry connections. I was on Long Island—not in New York City—so even if I did great with an audience, who knew if anybody would see it? One time, an agent asked me what my goal was, and I said to have my own sitcom. He laughed and said that would never happen: “You just don’t have the look.The sooner you embrace that, the better.” Well, I’m glad I didn’t embrace that, or The King of Queens would’ve never happened. And I would never have been in movies.
So here’s to all the underdogs, the Paul Blarts, the Mets, the Jets, the Knicks... all of you. Keep fighting. Ignore those who tell you that you can’t do something. Find that inner strength—or just relax and go have a chocolate energy bar. Because anything is possible. I know that firsthand.
Starring as deliveryman Doug Heffernan on the hit CBS sitcom The King of Queens and in a number of supporting and starring movie roles, standup comedian-turned-actor KEVIN JAMES has a natural feel for chumps who turn into champs. On April 17, he’ll be back on the big screen as the Segway-riding security guard spurred to heights of heroism in the new comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.