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The actors’ FX comedy Partners sees both men play lawyers who are thrown together by fate to form their own firm. Allen (Grammer) is of dubious moral character, while Jackson (Martin) is an honest family man.
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Here, the pair talk friendly competition, the grueling work of making a 10/90 show and why race doesn’t matter for their project.
How did you guys find each other for this project?
Kelsey Grammer: We met in a room two years ago, loved the idea of doing a show, fell in love with each other and thought, “this could do well.”
Martin Lawrence: I think we actually briefly met at Tim Allen‘s house at a Christmas party.
Grammer: Right! We definitely did that.
Lawrence Like Kelsey said, we fell in love. He got this look in his eye.
How do you manage to divide up the laughs? Do you feel competitive with each other?
Grammer: I never really think of that. I want this show to be great. I think the go-to guy for the real laughs is going to be Martin. Some of my stuff is more driven by language, and some of Martin’s stuff is driven by physical comedy. I think in the end he’s going to win on the laugh front.
Lawrence: It isn’t even about which one gets the bigger laugh. We’re a team. It’s like basketball. If Kelsey hits the big shot, we all win.
You have a few jokes about their races being different, but the bigger laughs seem to come from Martin’s character being much more ethical.
Grammer: The black and white thing is superficial. It points to maybe a different cultural background, but what they are going to be dealing with with each other is how different they are as people – what they think is right and wrong. Contemporary culture as a rule is not a great place to start a joke from, but universal values, universal understanding, that’s a more grounded place to start with a comedic idea. Is it right, or is it wrong? Is it good or is it bad? I think that’s where these guys are really coming to grips is in those moment.
Kelsey, did you ever consider playing the more honest guy rather than Martin?
Grammer: I think it seemed I qualified for the more unprincipled guy (laughs).
Lawrence: That’s what it was. And my role, the whole family man thing – just coming out of a divorce – that’s symbolic of my real life.
Grammer: We share some past on that one. We share a lawyer actually.
Lawrence: A lawyer and an agent.
These 10/90 shows are quite strenuous. Do you have any worries in getting involved in such a big task?
Lawrence: I really don’t have worries, because I know once I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it. I’m excited about the cast and doing our thing. This can be fun. If you’re having fun, the sky’s the limit. You can meet any deadline or whatever you ended to do as long as you make it fun.
Partners premieres on FX Monday at 9 p.m. with two episodes.
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