Rick Yaeger: Hey. It’s Rick Yaeger with another “One Question Interviews.” The show where I ask famous people curious questions.
Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Grunberg. Welcome to the show…
Greg Grunberg: Thank you. Let me say that this, of all the talk shows I’ve done…“The Tonight Show,” I’ve done “Conan,” I’ve done “The Today Show.” I’ve done all these shows, right? This is the strangest.
Greg: I should be the most comfortable because you’re one of my closest friends. This is the one that makes me…and you mentioned it on Twitter.
You were like, “I’m so nervous to interview Greg.”
— Rick Yaeger (@RickYaeger) February 27, 2014
It’s so true! It’s so weird. I can talk to you and we can BS about this and that. I’m not going to use the full word because your mom is watching. Mom, how are you? Honestly, it’s like we have to pretend that we don’t know each other? That’s not what we’re doing, but you know what I mean.
Rick: Yeah. I’ll ask you a question I know the answer to, just for the benefit of the fans.
I mentioned the “Heroes” credit, and there’s a reunion coming up. What’s going on there?
Greg: Listen to this. I’m watching the Olympics and I see the promo for “Heroes Reborn.” I’m like, “Wow, that is something that I have kind of fantasized and masturbated to for years now. I can’t believe that that’s actually happening. What?” Then the texts start flying. There’s a group text with all the cast members. We’re like, “WTF?”
Greg: “You think he was JK?” “No, I think that’s for real.” Crazy, going back and forth, thinking, “Who would do it? Who wants to do it?” We’re all so excited at the possibilities. Then I emailed Tim Kring. I said, “Is this real?” He’s like, “Yeah, of course. It’s a promo. We’re doing it.”
I was like, “Well, you know, it’d be great to use that cop character as an investigative tool to find new people with power.” I’m so game, so excited. I’m excited as a fan, to see what happens. If I can be a part of this, I would jump at the chance. That kind of answers your question, as to whether they’ve called me or not.
None of us have been notified. We have no idea what’s going on. They hinted that they might use some of the old characters to move story and plot.
I think the fans or whoever was watching the show before, which was the world, really wants closure. I don’t know how they would do this without using some of the main characters. I hope that they include me.
Rick: The original show had all kinds of little winks that the fans could pick up on. So many “Star Trek” references. “Doctor Who” references. This one’s got to have tons of self-referential clues dropped. Even if you’re not…
Greg: By the way, since we’ve gone off the air, there have been other…Jeph Loeb was off doing, what was it? It’s the one that has all the people with powers. It’s on ABC.
Rick: There have been a lot of them. There’s been “Alphas.” It’s become a category unto itself on TV.
Greg: That’s true. Revenge is sweet. When you think about it, think about Tim Kring going in and pitching “Heroes.” He goes in there, “And it’s a cop that can read minds, and a cheerleader’s indestructible, and a politician that can fly.” All the people that have had those singular shows going, “Oh, no.”
Greg: It’s like 10 shows in one. It’s bound to happen, but I think we did it better than most, and making it character-driven. That’s what I think people identified with, and certainly, I hear that every day, through Twitter or on the street.
People loved the “everyman” aspect of all the characters, and how any one of us could wake up in the morning and have a power.
Look, Tim is a genius, and I hope this happens.
Rick: It set the standard, and we all look forward to seeing that universe expand a bit more. I mentioned some of your other credits, and a lot of your most fun credits are winks, as well. You were the pilot in “Lost.”
Greg: Yes. [laughs] When your best friend is the genius, JJ Abrams, and he wants to work with me. It’s, “Come to Hawaii. We’ll have some fun.” I’m in “Lost.” I’m in five minutes of it and I get killed.” It’s like, “OK.”
When I said to JJ, “Look, I’ll do anything. You’re working on this. You’re working on that. I’ll do anything.” Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s great.
Anything that has to do with Bad Robot or JJ is always a good thing. The two of us on a set together, it’s like when we were 12, making “Super 8” movies. It’s got to be the right thing. I’m never going to say no, but it’s got to be a good fit for him to want to jump on and do it.
Rick: When he finds the perfect role for you in “Almost Human,” you’ll come up to Vancouver. We can hang out.
Greg: Exactly. Guess what?
Greg: I’m shooting “Lawyers” in Vancouver. I leave on Monday. I know this isn’t going to air for a while. You and I are about to see each other.
Rick: Very cool.
Greg: That hotel that everybody stays at in Vancouver. You know exactly which one I’m talking about.
Greg: We will meet downstairs for a Japadog, for sure.
Rick: Very good. [laughs] “Warriors.” It’s a pilot, so we don’t know whether we’ll see it or not. We might see it, and it might not be called that.
Greg: I think it will be. It’s a takeoff on wounded warriors, which is these heroes. Talk about heroes. The soldiers, men and women, who fight for your country, my country, whatever, are all around the world, and have to come back and deal with things like PTSD and health issues.
They go to their local VA hospital or whatever. Most of them, when they come back with traumatic TBI, or traumatic brain injuries, or PTSD, or anything.
Walter Reed Medical Hospital is in DC. That’s where all the big cases are, and some of the most difficult cases, and some of the best doctors in the world are located there.
I play a guy, Leonard Mooney, who is an obstetrical surgeon and an OB-GYN. He’s really good at his job, and he, unfortunately, lost the use of his legs, not too long ago. It was in the near past that he lost the use of his legs.
He’s in a wheelchair, and that’s taken him out of the OR. That’s all he lives for, is to be a surgeon. He’s single, looking for love. He’s in a wheelchair. It’s kind of like “MASH,” the script right now. The way I read it. It’s so good. It is up to us to screw it up.
Greg: So good. It’s Chris Keyser and Mandeville Pictures’ David Hoberman. I’m drawing a blank on the…The director’s incredible. He directed a bunch of the Bond films.
Rick: His name will be right below your face, so that we can…
Greg: This guy, right here. This genius. It’s kind of “MASH” meets “ER.”
Rick: I read somewhere that your character has a gambling problem.
Greg: Who doesn’t have a gambling problem?
Rick: That’s true.
Greg: My character has a gambling problem, which anything like that makes me excited. It gives another layer to my character and another, hopefully a sympathetic wrinkle to a character that you want to fall in love with or see overcome something.
That’s another obstacle for him to overcome. Let alone trying to play basketball in his wheelchair, and be the best doctor he can in his chair. He relates to a lot of the cases and people that are in the hospital, because there are a lot of wounded warriors there. “Warriors” really refers to the doctors and the patients, both.
Rick: Are you practicing with the wheelchair? Are you getting…
Greg: I’ll try and mess around. See the chair sitting there?
Rick: There it is.
Greg: There it is. That’s a chair I picked up, and I got the role yesterday. I got this yesterday, so I’m newly acquainting myself. Already, I’m absolutely sick and tired of this thing.
Greg: People have in wheelchairs, I get it. Doing anything. This is a big warehouse space here. This open space to wheel around and everything. Getting something out of the fridge. Where do you put it? It doesn’t have cup holders. Oh, my gosh.
Then my hands are dirty. I’ve got to wash my hands and the sink’s too high. The understanding that I’m gaining. Not sympathy. People in chairs don’t want sympathy.
Rick: They want to be understood. That’s an opening for a segue there. You have your own charity. It’s not to do with any kind of paralysis or anything like that. Tell us a bit about talkaboutit.org.
Greg: It is called, like you said, talkaboutit.org. It’s exactly that. It’s starting with epilepsy. Hopefully, branching out to other things. Getting people to not be afraid to engage in a conversation, or talk about it. There’s a stigma.
Certainly there’s a stigma with somebody in a chair. You see somebody in a wheelchair, and you look and then you look back.
You don’t want to have them catch you looking at them. Why not? That’s just stupid. Go over and say, “How’d you get in that chair? Have you been in it since birth? What happened?” “Oh, I got back from the war.”
“Oh. Thank you for your service.” Talk to them. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. No one wants to be treated like they’re in the inside of a fishbowl. It’s bad. That’s worse than actually engaging and saying something bad.
Rick: It’s not as if they don’t feel it, or don’t sense that you’re avoiding the topic.
Greg: No. Come on. Talkaboutit was started because of epilepsy. It’s a seizure disorder, and one that has a lot of stigma attached to it. People don’t want to talk about something as scary as seeing someone have a seizure. Our oldest son, as you know, Jake, has epilepsy. We’ve been dealing with it for over 10 years.
He’s doing great, knock on wood, thankfully. It’s because of this great medicine he’s on, and the therapies that he takes. It’s become part of our life. It’s a club that I don’t want to be a part of. I’m the spokesperson for the National Epilepsy Foundation.
I’ve never been more proud to be a parent of a child who’s extraordinary, like Jake. He’s taught us to accept everything, including the obstacles that we face. We’re a closer family for it. If you go to talkaboutit.org, I encourage people to go there to learn something about epilepsy or seizures.
If you see someone have a seizure, you should know that you should never stick anything in their mouth. Turn them on their side, let them have the seizure. If it lasts longer than two minutes, call the paramedics. Stuff like that.
You’ll see your favorite celebrities on there, asking those questions, and then doctors answering the questions. It’s a good site.
Rick: I didn’t know much about epilepsy before I became friends with you. Through Talkaboutit, through talking about it with you, I learned to hug them through it. If Jake was to start having a seizure while he’s standing up, just go grab him and gently bring him to the ground.
Greg: Absolutely. Have you seen Jake have a seizure?
Rick: I have. We visited the “Heroes” set, and we were getting Korean barbecue at craft services. He went down.
Greg: That’s right.
Rick: I turned for a second, and turned back, and he was gone. He was under the table. It’s scary. I’d never experienced it before.
Greg: I, unfortunately, know the sound of a skull hitting the sidewalk. I know it. It’s terrifying. It’s terrible. Now, luckily, he’s under control. There are so many people out there. 3 to 5 million people in the US alone that have epilepsy.
It’s a condition that touches so many people, when you think about parents, and friends, and teachers, and caregivers. It’s important. I’m proud to be the spokesperson. Thanks for bringing it up. Talkaboutit.org.
Rick: Then there’s Band from TV, which also benefits the American Epilepsy Foundation.
Greg: The Epilepsy Foundation of America and epilepsy.com benefit from the band’s…That’s my charity. Bandfromtv.org is the website people can go to. I started this band with many different celebrities.
We each have a charity that we support, and we’ve helped raise close to $5 million over the last seven and a half, eight years. I’m sitting right on the other side of the wall from this brand new, beautiful rehearsal space that we have. We hold events here, too.
It’s a great cause, and makes a great tool to help many different causes.
Rick: You do concerts that people can go see, and there’s a DVD-CD combo that you can get from Amazon.
Greg: That’s right. Called “Hoggin All The Covers.”
Rick: It’s great. You can also get the “House” soundtrack. There’s a couple songs on there, produced by…
Greg: Hugh Laurie’s in the band.
Rick: Produced by David Foster.
Greg: Yes, that little producer. The little train that could. One of these days, that guy’s going to make some money. Mark my words.
Rick: A bit more, anyway.
Greg: Can we talk about one more thing?
Rick: Of course.
Greg: Which is how you and I met.
Rick: Of course. We skipped over the big “Why?”
Greg: We skipped the most important thing. For people that don’t know, Rick is an incredibly talented guy outside of creating this One Question Interview. Brilliant in the tech world, and design world, and art, and everything. One of the things that happened when we met was we created an app together.
I am so incredibly proud that we’ve taken it to the point where it is right now. We sold it to an incredible company called Spindle.
It’s a mobile coupon app called Yowza. You can go to getyowza.com. It’s a location-based mobile coupon app. This is a big plug, I know, but it’s all free.
Download the app. Open up Yowza, and it’ll bring up all the stores and restaurants that are right around you, and all of their coupons. You can either use the coupons or not. The barcodes come up. They can scan the barcodes.
You have to understand, this came from the mind of Rick Yaeger, Greg Grunberg, and August Trometer. Three of us. It worked. There are a lot of apps out there, a lot of tech startups and businesses that don’t ultimately fly and don’t ultimately go anywhere.
We ended up selling this company. We built it up and sold it. There are over a million and a half people using the app. Get it, use it. You’re welcome. You save money. Yowza.
Rick: Excellent, excellent plug.
Greg: Thank you.
Rick: Now we’ll go back to the question.
Rick: I have almost 1,000 questions. Grabbed a few for you. They range from the profane to the profound. We’ll choose one at random, and you’ll answer it seriously or in a funny voice, if you like. Everyone goes home happy. Sounds cool?
Here’s the stack. I’m going to just riffle them. You tell me to stop anytime. Running out.
Rick: This is not the question, but would you like the top or the bottom? [laughs]
Greg: That’s not the first time you’ve asked me that.
Greg: I will go for the top.
Rick: The top. The top question is “What are some things you played with as a kid that would send today’s parents into a panic?”
Greg: Giant testicles…
Greg: What did I play with when I was a kid that would leave parents screaming, running for cover?
Rick: Into a panic.
Greg: Into a panic. I played with, as boring as it is, but it was pretty cool, and I have to really commend my parents for letting me do it, was my drum set.
I was a drummer. I’m self-taught. I started this band with Brad Savage, who I talked about before, who was right over there, eating something he shouldn’t in the fridge.
If my parents hadn’t let me be a terrible drummer and learn for myself, I would never be able to be as creative as I am today. It’s a lesson for parents. If your child embraces something creative, or some sort of sport, or something, encourage them.
They might be the worst singer in the world, but guess what? With the right coaching or experience, their voice might change. They might turn out to be the greatest singer ever. Don’t discourage it. Encourage it. That’s a T-shirt. Call Cafe Press.
The drums. It led to so many other things, creatively. I’ve got a band now. Music is such a big part of my life.
Rick: Day one, you started with that drum set. You probably put it together wrong.
Rick: You definitely played it wrong, but you kept at it.
Greg: By the way, my parents. I remember asked my parents. Hanukkah was coming, and they’re like, “What do you want for Hanukkah?” We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. I said, “I really want a drum set.” They got me a used, piece of crap drum set. It didn’t matter.
That was mine. I remember it was my money that I used. That was my gift. I didn’t get anything else. That’s a big gift. You don’t need anything else.
From them, I sold that kit, got another one. Put money into it. Every time I got a little bit of money, because I was very entrepreneurial back then. I would mow a lawn, here and there, make some money, and I would buy another. It really fueled so much for me. It gave me a responsibility. I got better and better and better.
Rick: Amen. Very good. Love that answer.
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I can’t believe you haven’t been on already.
Greg: I know. All my friends have been. I hope you don’t mind, I keep sending all my friends to you, because they love it. It’s so cool and so easy, obviously, to do this.
Anytime. I want to come on the show, much, much more. I will be calling you Monday. I land Monday. I don’t care if anybody hears this. This is me and you talking. I land on Monday. By the time people see this…
Rick: It’ll be too late.
Greg: Yeah, I’ll be back. Let’s plan on hanging, because I’m there for three weeks. I want to meet your better half, and all that.
Rick: You will. All right, everybody. Check out Greg in “Big Ass Spider.” We didn’t talk about “Big Ass Spider.” Tell me…
Greg: “Big Ass Spider” just got nominated for a Saturn award. Basically, a sci-fi award.
Rick: Sci-fi Oscars?
Greg: Yes. Sci-fi Academy Awards, or whatever. They’re hosted by Jeffrey Ross. I co-hosted them one year when I was on “Heroes.” It’s a blast. At a big hotel, they do this big show. They might air it on Sci-Fi. We got nominated for Best Picture. It’s “Big Ass Spider.” Check it out. You will love it.
Also, please watch my movie, “Group Sex,” which is on Netflix. You’ll love that, too, I think. I hope. It’s a lot of fun. Don’t Google it, and don’t let your kids Google it.
Rick: It’s a movie called “Group Sex.” It’s got Fonzie in it.
Greg: Exactly. “Group Sex” with Fonzie and Tom Arnold.
Rick: Download Yowza for your iPhone and, or your Android phone. Follow Greg on Twitter. He is @greggrunberg. It’s right down there. You can see it. Check out talkaboutit.org for more info on epilepsy.
Yes, I realize these links go fast, and are hard to click on, so head over to onequestioninterviews.com, where I’ll have them linked up, and a transcript of this interview, along with many others for you to check out.
Everybody, this is Rick Yaeger for “One Question Interviews.” Thank you so much for watching. Subscribe to the show in the iTunes podcast directory so you don’t miss the next episode. Sounds good. Bye bye.