Q&A: Ken Jeong

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Ken Jeong is in “Pain and Gain” for only a few scenes, but the doctor-turned-actor’s Johnny Wu, a cheesy self-help guru, sets the events of the film in motion when he encourages Mark Wahlberg’s Daniel Lugo, a Wu fanboy, to be a “doer,” not a “don’ter.”

Your character isn’t in the film for long, but he’s a constant presence.
My character plays a very small part of this movie, but with anything I’ve ever done in my career, [I’ve learned] there’s no such thing as a small part.

You worked with Michael Bay on the last “Transformers” movie. By comparison, “Pain and Gain” seems small.
This is a passion project he had since ’99. … He described it to me and described my character [and] sight unseen, I said, “I’m in.” I just would do anything for Michael Bay.

Did you watch any self-help seminars or infomercials to prepare for the role?
I did study tapes, and I looked on YouTube for Tony Robbins and things like that. There are good motivational speakers and bad ones, and I wanted to play a bad one. And I wanted to say stupid, empty things with authenticity. How do you yell empty catchphrases with such gravitas? That was the goal.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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