J.B. Smoove has dipped his toe in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. Back when Spider-Man: Homecoming hit theaters, Sony also did a collaboration with Audi, where we saw Peter Parker in the middle of a driving test with a particularly strict assessor, and that character was played by J.B. Smoove.
Now, a couple of years later, he’s playing an all-new character in the form of Mr. Dell, who along with Mr. Harrington, has to chaperone these kids on their trek across Europe. Of course, that’s all thrown into chaos when Mysterio and the Elementals get involved.
I had a chance to speak with Smoove on the phone a couple of weeks back, and over the course of this particularly hilarious interview, we discuss the contentious relationship between Mr. Dell and Mr. Harrington, Smoove’s love of comic books, and his involvement in the upcoming Harley Quinn show on DC Universe.
J.B. Smoove: I’m on the phone, everybody, with Joseph, from the Latino Review. Now, I’m going to tell you something right now, don’t your ass talk in Spanish, because I don’t know no damn Spanish, you hear me?
LRM Online: Yeah, I hear you, I hear you loud and clear, no problem there.
J.B. Smoove: Uno time. Uno. Uno time. Don’t say uno time. That’s all I know is uno. Because I’m number one. What’s going on man?
LRM Online: Not much, not much, how are you doing? Are you guys busy today?
J.B. Smoove: Man, we are busy on this amazing field trip right now. You might be our 10th or 11th interview today but we are having a ball. We got all this press on this field trip. You hear that? We are loaded right now. We are having a ball in this van. We got packed lunches. We made everybody sign a permission slip with their parents.
This is a real adult field trip. A lot of these folks their own responsibilities. They have bills and car notes and all that kind of stuff but we took them on an adult field trip based on this amazing Spider-Man: Far From Home movie being released on DVD October 1st.
You’re just 11, 12, but I know you’re going to be the best damn interview anyways.
LRM Online: I agree. I know that you dipped your toe into the world of the MCU a couple years ago with the commercial with Audi.
J.B. Smoove: Yes.
LRM Online: Did that lead into this at all? Are there any tendons connecting that with this or was it a completely separate phone call that you got unrelated from that commercial?
J.B. Smoove: You know what? My connection to this movie based on the Audi commercial, it depends if you believe in the universe. I’m going to tell you, I did this commercial, all right, but plenty of times I sat in the movie theater watching Marvel movies, the Avenger movies, Spider-Man movies, saying to myself, I would love to be in Marvel Universe one day and low and behold, I had a call about the Audi commercial with Tom Holland. I did the commercial. And then I was sitting in the theater again, watching the last Avengers movie, before End Game, and I was sitting there … I told my wife, “Baby, I would love to be in this Marvel Universe.”
I was in the commercial, dipping my toe in it like you said, but, they called me about this movie, this is totally unrelated. It’s related because they saw Tom and I have our chemistry on camera. But as far as order of things, it’s unrelated. It allowed me to come in and give the same energy that we love about the commercial, in Spider-Man: Far From Home. It all worked out perfectly.
LRM Online: Right. When it comes to your guy’s overall performance, did you do improve a lot or was it mostly scripted stuff? How much of it, would you say, was you making stuff up on the fly?
J.B. Smoove: Oh, Jon Watts, our director, allowed Martin and I to have fun with the character, of course. Everything can’t make the movie, but stuff that we put in the movie is actually fabulous, man. And we definitely got a lot of leeway with the characters. It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you’re going to get until you get it on a steep sometimes.
Martin was in two other Marvel movies. This is my first Marvel movie. For me, I’m the new character. We have to find a point where we have to feel the characters out and give you something you didn’t know about the characters.
Not knowing Mr. Dell, he didn’t exist in the previous movies, but now seeing us on camera together, you see the relationship that we brought across existing problems we’ve had. We argued. We fought about this European trip with these amazing students and we made it realistic and made it feel like these guys have a relationship that’s been established already.
When we finally had to camera together, it opened up and became this amazing, amazing, amazing journey. We are very happy with our performance and I’m very happy that Jon Watts, our director, let us get loose and have fun with it.
LRM Online: How would you say that your characters, Mr. Dell and Mr. Harrington, what would you say their relationship is with one another, in terms of, is it a frustrating relationship or how would you describe that relationship?
J.B. Smoove: Our relationship as Mr. Harris and Mr. Dell is frustrating because we wanted a European trip, not just to go on a trip … I’m all about the science. I’m all about science, baby, that’s my thing. I’m all about the damn science. I think that, we came out here on this amazing trip to enjoy Europe but also to learn a little something about Europe.
These students are not just here to have fun and run around and try delicious European meals and culinary dishes here and there and not to hang out, we’re here to get something done on the level of experiencing Europe. But, my thing is this, I’m trying to make sure we get science involved with this.
This man, Mr. Harrington going to get my ass fired because, first of all, I came out here … he got tenure. He got something called tenure with his job. Mr. Dell hasn’t been at that damn school this long. For Mr. Dell, Mr. Dell would love to keep his damn job, basically.
My thing is this, thus the argument that we had with all this going on with the Elementals and all this stuff going with Mysterio, we got all this stuff going on, we are trying to embody teachers. I’m trying to ensure we get science in this damn trip so these students can learn something on this damn trip.
Mr. Dell is a very dedicated teacher. And I wasn’t going to be sidetracked by Mr. Harrington forgetting reservations, forgetting airlines tickets, forgetting all the things that keep these kids safe on this damn European trip. And Mr. Harrington, very irresponsible in his preparation for this damn trip and I damn-near broke character as Mr. Dell and I damn-near turned into JB Smoove because I was so mad at this damn man for not being prepared and forgetting things.
And he had that goddamn fanny pack around his goddamn waist. He kept forgetting things. What’s in that damn fanny pack. You know what I’m saying? That’s the first thing I ask when I see a fanny pack. What’s in that damn fanny pack? Huh? What’s in that damn fanny pack, man? I always ask people that. I always tell people to question the fanny pack, what’s in that damn fanny pack?
One time I snuck and opened his fanny pack, and guess what’s inside the fanny pack?
LRM Online: What’s that?
J.B. Smoove: Another goddamn fanny pack. Two fanny packs. Goddammit Mr. Harrington, you have two fanny packs.
LRM Online: There you go. Inside scoop everyone. Two fanny packs.
J.B. Smoove: Inside scoop, baby. There’s a fanny pack inside that damn fanny pack. What we did was … We made sure we created through everything that we established, was a relationship between these two guys and we got so mad at each other during the film. Anytime you see people call two professional people like teachers, end up calling each other by a real first name, that’s when we yell Julius at me, that’s when you know it’s dead-ass serious. We got a problem here on this damn trip. It helped a lot and we got a chance to really, really have fun with the characters.
LRM Online: I know you’re a huge fan of comic books in general, was there any disappointment whatsoever, when you found out that your character did not have superpowers?
J.B. Smoove: That’s the first thing I asked them. When they called me about this damn role … Because I didn’t have no damn powers and that Audi commercial, so the first thing I asked them is, “What’s my damn powers, man?” That’s the first thing you ask them. Anytime Marvel calls you with any damn thing, you ask them, “What are my powers going to be?” That’s the first thing I had to ask them.
You’re right, man. You want to know what the power is going to be. It’s very important to establish your character and know what you’re getting into. You know what I mean? And even if they say you don’t have any powers, you ask them if there’s a possibility in the future that I will have some powers. Is it possible I can bring my own damn powers.
Have you ever heard of BYOB? We have something on the set called BYOP. Bring your own powers. That’s my thing.
LRM Online: Well, Mr. Dell’s powers is his mind.
J.B. Smoove: You’re damn right it’s his brain.
LRM Online: Yeah.
J.B. Smoove: Have you ever heard of a character in the Marvel Universe called The Watcher? Have you ever heard of a character called Galactus?
LRM Online: Yeah.
J.B. Smoove: I have a Galactus-like brain. I heard in the next installment in one of these movies, they have to show Galactus because that’s how far I go back with these Marvel Universe. Have you ever heard of Galactus?
LRM Online: Oh yeah.
J.B. Smoove: Oh yeah, man. They got to bring back The Silver Surfer, all these characters, man. I am deep in this Marvel Universe. I’m deep. You hear me?
LRM Online: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
J.B. Smoove: I’m deep. I’m deep, man. I’ve very deep.
LRM Online: Well, I’m happy to hear. I’m really happy you finally got to live your dream and head into the Marvel Universe because it looks like you guys had a whole lot of fun doing it.
J.B. Smoove: We had a ball.
LRM Online: But, I also know that you’re not just in the Marvel Universe, you also dipped into the DC a bit with the upcoming Harley Quinn TV series. Anything you can tell me about that?
J.B. Smoove: Oh, man. That was really fun to do. Oh, we have to get on the bus. But, hey, that was really fun to do. Really fast. I played Frank the Plant. Man, so fun. I got two toes. I got 10 damn toes and my big toe is dipped in the Marvel Universe and my other big toe is dipped in this Harley Quinn thing. Yeah, man. Nothing wrong with getting both toes wet. Why not?
LRM Online: Yeah.
J.B. Smoove: One is animated. One is live-action, of course. But, if they ever do a live-action, who knows man. Hey, my body’s lanky. I’m lanky. I’m loose. I’m free. I make a great man-eating plant in real live-action and in animation world. But you pop your voice into a character and you have fun with it. I think everybody is going to enjoy the DVD release and they’ll also enjoy a little animated adult cartoon, animated animation. It’s not for kids at all because we get busy with the language.
LRM Online: Right.
J.B. Smoove: Let me tell you something, man. We get busy with that language. Let me tell you something. It’s good to have the balance of both. It’s fun being JB right now.
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