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We talk to former 30 Rock star Lonny Ross about his show Level Up, video games, billionaires and Back to the Future
Lonny Ross stars as Max, the eccentric billionaire in Level Up
Former 30 Rock actor Lonny Ross is now starring in the Cartoon Network show, Level Up. In it, he plays Max, an eccentric billionaire video-game designer whose world is disrupted when elements of his game begin to escape into the real world. We sat down to talk to the actor about his new project.
What drew you to Level Up?
I just love that I’m lucky enough to work on another comedy show, and this one is really over-the-top and really unapologetically goofy. It’s very colourful and just big. It’s a really fun role with the Max character (multi-billionaire mastermind behind the video game the series is based around).
If people haven’t seen the movie do you think that the show will be accessible?
I think once you get past the block of how this all happened (explained at the beginning of the movie), how the leak happened and how the servers went bonkers, it’s really able to stand on its own.
Did You Have Inspiration for the Character?
I’ve definitely been researching more online gaming, which I wasn’t as familiar with. I don’t think there was anyone in particular that I singled out, there’s definitely a Doc from Back to the Future vibe to it.
And he’s probably just as good a role model as Doc . . .
(Laughs) I don’t know, there’s his off-the-hook crazy, adult behavior, but I think in the way that it’s written the kids don’t really emulate the character, they just kind of put up with him. Max has to help them figure things out because it’s his games and his servers that the creatures are leaking from. And the kids need him for his headquarters and also for his knowledge of how the characters were designed when he created them, and they’re able to use that to battle them in the real world.
Are you anything like Max at all?
Um, well I’m a multi-billionaire, that’s for sure. That’s probably why they hired me because I can really relate to having billions of dollars . . . no, I really just interpret the material as I think it’s funny to do. Whatever I can do to make it funnier and take it to the next level.
Just watching Alec Baldwin work, there’s a guy who takes really funny material and makes it even funnier and I always admired that. I don’t think I’m like Max, but I can definitely get into that frame of mind, just bouncing off the wall. I guess I can be like that in real life, a little goofy, a little over the top at times, a little manic.
Mostly mellow, but when a camera is rolling and there’s comedy involved, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know what I’m going to do. And then I watch it back and go, “I don’t remember doing that . . .” I’m like the Incredible Hulk of comedy.
You mentioned you were into video games, what did you play?
I started on Atari when I was a kid but then I really cut my teeth on the Sega Genesis System, you couldn’t pull me away from that one. And, then that became Sony Playstation and then Xbox 360. I would be playing a baseball game and I would physically write the statistics of each player. I have papers of, “this guy had two hits this game and I think he’s really on a role.” I would like to be the announcer after the game, do like a press conference, just entertain myself.
Hometown: Wantagh, New York
Memorable Roles: Most famously played Josh Girard in sitcom 30 Rock. He has appeared in several films including, Good Luck Chuck, The Rocker, College Road Trip and Labor Pains.
Current Gig: Cartoon Network series Level Up. Ross stars as Max, the mad-cap billionaire video game designer, responsible for leaks escaping from the game into the real world.