Actor Rob Corddry on His Favorite Cars, Being Friends With The Rock, and Hosting ‘Top Gear America’

Actor Rob Corddry
Credit: Federico Vargas

Actor Rob Corddry has been keeping himself plenty busy these days. After wrapping up HBO’s Ballers after five seasons, Corddry jumped into a new role on the CBS comedy The Unicorn alongside longtime friend Walton Goggins. And coming up in 2020 he’ll be executive producing and writing the spinoff of the Emmy-winning series Childrens Hospital with Medical Police on Netflix, while also co-hosting the new season of Top Gear America alongside Dax Shepard.

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“These have been very busy times—but mostly it seems like I’m actually busier than I am,” Corddry said with a laugh in a recent interview with Men’s Journal. “I’ve loved working on The Unicorn and I’m excited about what’s coming up next. We have a hilarious cast for Medical Police, and I have always loved cars, it’s a great fit.”

Speaking of cars and dreams, Corddry has a couple of favorite cars he’s been hoping to get his hands on over the years. While there’s no word if these cars will appear on the new season of Top Gear America, maybe Corddry will nudge the production team to get them on the show.

“I’ve been eyeing these for a while, a couple of my dream cars,” Corddry said. “My first one would be a 1970-71 Datsun 280Z. It’s gorgeous; a car that may as well have been a Porsche, it’s just so beautiful and chic. Another car that I want is a 1987 Buick Grand National GNX. It looks like your grandmother’s Buick, except it only came in the black and when it was released it was the fastest production car in the world. They used to call it the Darth Vader car. I swear I will have one of those one day.”

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Top Gear America / Rob Corddry / Motor Trend / Discovery
Top Gear America / Motor Trend / Discovery

Along with Top Gear America, Corddry has Medical Police coming to Netflix in January, spinning off of his well-received comedy series Childrens Hospital. This time around, he’ll be writing and producing, and the story will follow “two American doctors who discover a deadly virus in Brazil are recruited as government agents in a race to find a cure and uncover a dark conspiracy,”

The show stars Childrens Hospital vets Erinn Hayes and Rob Huebel, while fellow CH alums Lake Bell, Ken Marino and Malin Akerman will also appear. Corddry is also going to appear in the premiere episode in a cameo.

Corddry spoke with Men’s Journal about his friendship with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, what it was like working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and why The Unicorn is the opposite of Game of Thrones.

Men’s Journal: You worked with Dwayne Johnson for five years on Ballers. What was that experience like working with the biggest movie star in the world?

Rob Corddry: I’m fortunate to be able to say he’s a friend. As a friend, he really is everything that you’d want him to be. His whole MO, his business model and life model is to be kind to people and work hard. He’s just a good dude and he’s someone who is great to work with. Working with him was a lesson in seeing what it takes to be The Rock every day. He never does anything half-assed. He manages his time in a way that he can do all this stuff and still have a family, be a dad, and be awesome at everything—I don’t know how he does it, he’s incredible. He’s really fun to work with and made Ballers an absolute joy.

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You’ve won Emmys for Childrens Hospital and now have the Medical Police spinoff coming up on Netflix. Was producing something you always wanted to do?

I definitely have tried to make the most of where my career has gone and this opportunity. I’ve never had a long term goals for this—because I didn’t have a fallback. I learned that the business can kind of guide you and put you where you should be in a lot of ways, and that’s how these shows happened. I realized as I started getting parts in comedies, I found that there is an expectation of comedic actors to also generate their own material. And so in a way it came from that. We’re really excited about Medical Police, it’s going to be in the same style as Childrens Hospital, but it’s really going to be its own thing.

What’s it been like working on The Unicorn with Walton Goggins?

It’s been great. We’ve been friends for years and when he called me up about the show, he made it halfway through the pitch before I said ‘I’ll do anything you’re doing.’ He had really worked with the producers to find a show that was suited to his talents. He’s a great actor in every sense of the word. He’s done comedy as well, but most people know him as an edgy villain from things like Justified. You cannot have a bad scene with him—ever. I just feel I’m in good hands every day going to work…..even when I’m not at my best [laughs].

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What was your preparation like for your role as Forrest on The Unicorn? 

This is the first time where I’ve had this specific opportunity where every week I get to develop a character like this. It’s not like Game of Thrones where I’m finding out that I’m about to get murdered by the Mother of Dragons and it’s supposed to be a surprise. Each week as they reveal more about my character, I have this thing that I call “Forrest Bible”—anytime anybody says anything descriptive or I describe myself on the show, I write it down there because it’s just something to remember, but it still is part of what creates this three-dimensional character. For this show, we’ve been given some free range to try things by the creators and that’s been exciting. The creators are great and the writing is so good on the show, it’s been a great experience.

You also worked with Omar Benson Miller on Ballers and now work with him on The Unicorn.

It’s funny, I worked with Omar, but in five years on Ballers, we didn’t have a lot of scenes together because of our characters and the storyline—but I love that guy. The only time we ended up together was something we improvised, which is kind of funny. But he’s fantastic to work with. I’ve also worked with Michaela Watkins before as well. Everyone is perfectly cast in this show and we have a great time together.

Are there any types of roles you haven’t done that you’re still hoping to do?

I might be aging out of professional athlete [laughs]. I’ve always wanted to play a rockstar of some sort and I got to do that in the credits of Hot Tub Time Machine and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Partly because I like music and sports. I also like comic books, but I don’t see myself being the villain of a Marvel movie—maybe I could be the villain behind the villain. I refer to Walton Goggins in Ant-Man and The Wasp, he could give some pointers to me about that.

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

There’s actually some advice that wasn’t directly given to me, but stuck with me. Back in the early New York days of my career, my best friend at the time, his girlfriend Molly, she would drag us up to Broadway plays sometimes—we wouldn’t actually go to them, we couldn’t afford that, but just to see the actors come out. I remember one time Patrick Stewart was doing a show. She goes up to him and said, “Do you have any advice for young actors?” He turned to her and said in his Patrick Stewart voice: “Act! All the time.”

Actor Rob Corddry
Federico Vargas

Do actors ever ask you for advice?

I’ve been asked by young actors on some of their first jobs about advice for being on a set and things like that. And I say: “Always hang up your costume at the end of the day, don’t be a dick.” It is like a recipe for the whole mindset that you bring to the business. Like in a way, when you look at it, the actors have the easiest job and the hardest thing is dealing with the public and what comes along with that. Saying other people’s words believably does have its challenges, but for the most part it’s not hard labor. So don’t make it harder for other people who are actually getting in three hours before you and leave hours after you—basically, don’t let them deal with your dirty underwear.

I heard that one of your first jobs early in your career was as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. What was that experience like?

Back then, I was so dedicated to every aspect of being an actor because I didn’t have a fallback. I was so enamored with New York, I just loved the city, and loved every minute of being there and the struggle of trying to make it as an actor. I was so excited to be here. So there’s really nothing like being in New York itself. I was there for one reason and I had such a good time struggling. It makes me happy saying that, because that early struggling could go either way for an actor. Now, I look back on that time and I enjoyed it.

On the Met orientation tour it was the guide, who was the head of security and an ex-cop who asked us: “Am I allowed to carry a gun?” The answer was yes. “Am I allowed to shoot people?” The answer was also yes. The guards I worked with, they had been around forever, the guys running it were ex-cops and they had all these amazing stories. The locker room was full of all these lifers. I was making $18K per year, more money than I had ever made in my life. It was a fun time and fun to look back on now.

Corddry can currently be seen on The Unicorn on CBS, airing on Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c. Medical Police will start streaming on Netflix in January 2020.

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