FX’s comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll has a few more episodes before the end of its second season. So there was time for the cast and creators to have a panel for the Television Critics Association this summer. After the panel, creator and star Denis Leary stuck around to talk with journalists further.
Leary plays a former rock star who discovers a daughter (Elizabeth Gillies) who can really sing, and wants in on his former band. Hilarity ensues. Leary has a hit song in real life, the infamous “*sshole” which he recently performed with James Corden, calling out all the horrible things Donald Trump has done. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll airs Thursdays at 10PM on FX.
Was it fun to redo the “*sshole” song on Corden with the Trump lyrics?
Yeah, that was a blast. That was a blast. That was a crazy, crazy day. The behavior that Trump displays has even taken politics, which can be pretty nasty, and turn it even nastier. I think I’m a pretty hard skinned guy and even I sometimes just like, “You’ve gotta turn this off. It’s just loud, all of it. It’s shrill.” Both sides of the coin. Even some of her press conferences, it’s very ugly.
Had you done different versions of that song before?
I did. I have over the years, live, done different versions of it because I always have o play it live. I do a couple concerts a year in the fall, one up in Boston, one in New York for charity. We always have to do the “*sshole” song but that was James’s idea. That was a blast.
Which rock star death affected you the most this year?
Bowie. I’m a huge fan of that guy. That guy made a big imprint on my life. I got through the ‘70s, basically him and the Stones were the bridge for me until New Wave and Punk happened.
Favorite Bowie album?
Oh, man, I couldn’t pick a favorite album. I really couldn’t. But I have to say that that last video, we talked about it in the show I think, that last video, man, that Lazarus video was insane. The amount of artistry in that, being able to do that and send that song and that video out to his fans, that’s amazing.
You led the charge on bringing rock n’ roll to television. Now we’ve had Vinyl and Roadies. Why do you think now is the time different people are exploring rock n’ roll?
I don’t know. It’s just happenstance I guess. It’s weird.
What do you want to bring to the discussion about backstage rock n’ roll with Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll?
Well, our job every week is to make you laugh. There’s obviously some drama and some serious music and some comedic music, but whatever the episode is, we want you to at least laugh out loud a couple times. That’s what we had intended from the beginning. I guess that differentiates us to begin with.
Every time you run into a rock star, do you get a story from them?
No, most of the ones I know, I know from having either lived through them or hung out with these guys and heard them tell the story. So I’ve been lucky that way.
Who’s the best storyteller in rock n’ roll?
That’d be a rough call, man. I’d hate to pick one and then get in trouble.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
Wow, good question. I don’t know. I would rather not have known. I had so much fun investigating everything, including sex and drugs and rock n’ roll and I’m still alive, so it was well worth the trip.
What makes a good hero, antihero and villain?
The antihero to me, it’s not something we invented recently but recently in television especially, it’s the source of a lot of stories, both females and male roles. To me, the perfect combination is the villainous behavior and the heroic behavior which is what the antihero gets to play, which is why I love playing those characters so much. It’s not black or white. It’s got all the colors in there and we’re at the point where it can be a male or a female. I love playing villains. I’ve said for years now I wanted to be a James Bond villain, I wanted to be a Batman villain. Those are two of my favorite movie franchises. I got cast as a hero in Spider-Man but I much prefer that dirty area in the middle as an actor. As a writer as well, but as an actor, to me going to work and being able to play good and bad from moment to moment is just delicious for me.
What’s your favorite role as an antihero?
Tommy Gavin. Tommy Gavin was a blast. Even for me, and I was involved in the writing process, sometimes it was so surprising when Peter Tolan would write a script or Evan Reilley. Just a blast. Just a blast.
Will you watch the Patriots games without Tom Brady?
I watch ‘em all, yeah. Edelman got hurt this morning. It sucks, hurt his foot.