Interview with John Gammon of "The Middle" on ABC - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

John Gammon

Interview with John Gammon of "The Middle" on ABC 2/28/14

I watched "The Middle" for the first season but then fell behind. It's one of those shows you can pick up any time, pretty much. I watched about 6 episodes from this year to prepare for interviewing John. He plays the really dumb, goofy character Darrin on the show. Darrin's been friends with Axl and Sean for a long time, and he dated Sue (Axel's sister). John is far from dumb, though! I enjoyed our interview. He seemed like a really smart and together guy. I look forward to seeing what happens with him (and Darrin) in the future.

Here is the our interview. I hope you enjoy it!

If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!

Audio Part 1 Part 2

Gisele transcribed the interview for me. I plan to go through again and see if I can figure out the parts she couldn't hear, but here it is for now.

1. Where are you calling from?

John: Culver City, CA.

2. Are you still filming this season's episodes of "The Middle"?

John: Yes, we are. We have about 3 more episodes to go.

3. How are you enjoying working on "The Middle" this season?

John: Love it. Yeah, absolutely love it. Sue and I have reconnected. We don't know exactly what's going to happen with the audience, but we're pretty hopeful. My only thing is, like, you've got to remember that Sue is often beat at her own game, so I wouldn't get too confident. I wouldn't get overconfident, I should say.

4. The show's been on quite a few years now. Is it still doing well in the ratings?

John: Yeah, we get about anywhere between 8-1/2 to 10 million per week. It's pretty good. Now and again, we'll be right up there with Modern Family. Actually in more recent seasons, more and more often now, we're kind of on the same level every other week with them.

5. I read in another interview you did that you're very close to the other actors in the cast. Who do you hang out with the most?

John: Beau, for sure. Beau and I have gone to church together. We've had holiday dinner, Easter, July 4th, Superbowl Sunday. He and I hang out a lot. We also had the same agent for a while, so I know Beau very, very well.

6. You seem very smart, yet you're playing a guy who's not. Is that difficult?

John: Well, I'm educated, but I wouldn't say I'm the smartest guy around, for sure. But, you know, I can throw some logic together. Sometimes I'm not all that logical either. It's a little interesting playing Darrin, because I have definitely acted like Darrin. Some days I will have Darrin days, you know. I'll just be sort of disconnected a little bit, kind of where I'm not really all there. But for the most part, it's kind of a challenge in its own way to be as simple as Darrin is. It's interesting, and the way I kind of get over that is by distracting myself and focusing on what's actually not on topic. That's often a joke that's made on the show -- that Darrin is still like 2 or 3 notes before what's being discussed now, and then he says something that's very, very unformed, so if you just for a little bit longer, it's something that he would have been picking up on. He doesn't pick up a lot of stuff so well. It's a challenge for me to not overplay acting dumb. If you overplay it, then it's gonna look sloppy and caricature-like.

7. Why did Darrin put up with Angel? She wasn't very nice to him.

John: I think we all, young men, go through our periods in life where, I don't know, we want the crazy one for a little bit, and I think that's what Darrin did for a little bit with Angel. I thought I wanted something different. I thought I wanted something, I guess, wilder, whatever. That kind of was the trap-door for her, and he's coming back to what he really needs.

8. I like how Darrin stood up to his friends in the episode "Sleepless in Orson" and told them to quit bossing him around.

John: Oh, yeah, definitely. That's very, very important. You've got to assert yourself sometime.

9. Then he tried to get Sue back but saw her kissing her neighbor! Did you get a lot of feedback about that from fans?

John: I got a lot of feedback as far as -- I know it sounds superficial -- I didn't get a lot of feedback as far as, like, what it meant to the character or what the Glossner guy was all about. My mom hates the Glossner kid. She tells me, "There's no way that Sue would actually go for him over you, John." But the thing that I got a lot of remarks about was that I looked especially handsome when my heart was being broken. [Chuckles] I was, like, is that the first time that they thought I looked okay? I don't know. It was the only thing that I heard about. I thought it was kind of strange, frankly, because that's not what we were all going for, but I'm not gonna sit here and complain. I'll take it.

9. In the last episode, it seemed like Darrin and Sue re-connected. Can you tell us anything about the next episode or what might happen to them?

John: Yes, well, what might happen between Sue and Darrin is that they might be playing a little game with people. They might not exactly want to be completely open about it, but then, too, they might have it blow up in their faces. This is what I will say. We'll see how it plays out. You've got to remember, things normally blow up for Sue. Things normally don't work out for her unfortunately, and Darrin is gonna stay positive, no matter what it is, but even he is starting to kind of realize certain things. He's gotta stand up to his friends. He's got to go after who he really wants to be with. But as we all know, in regular everyday life, especially life out there in the middle, things don't always go as planned or even as wanted sometimes.

10. When you sang the Trash Can Kiss song, did you have to purposely sing it badly or was that your regular singing voice?

John: Yeah, I purposely sang it badly, yeah. I wouldn't say that it was my worst work. It was not my regular register, so you have to sing it in this kind of manufactured register, which normally doesn't translate very well. If you're going for a nice sound, it's not gonna really be nice. You know, you don't want a lot of people to be revolted by what they're hearing. It's got to be somewhere in the mediocre category. So, if you sing mediocre, you're fitting into the show's tone. You're fitting into the show's sense of humor, and people can laugh because it's not really good, but they can also laugh at the insults that Axl and Sean hurl at Darrin once he's done, but they can also have enough faith in their reaction to feel good about their song and to watch him cry and be touched by it, too. So, that's what's important, because if he sounds terrible, then people aren't gonna go, "Oh gosh, but it was so bad. I love the fact that he wrote a song and sang it, but gee whiz, it was horrible." So, you've gotta kind of walk that line, teetering toward that.

11. Do you sing better normally? Are you a singer?

John: I'm not a trained singer, but I know what is good.

12. Do you get recognized a lot for playing Darrin?

John: Yeah, yeah, I do. Normally out here in Los Angeles, people see a lot more celebrities, so it's kind of a normal thing. It's not like spotting a snow leopard or something, so you get a lot of different looks when you walk into a place. You can kind of tell when people know who you are, or people give you an expression on their faces when they've seen you somewhere before, so that often happens more than people just coming up to me to ask for a picture, but that certainly happens, too. Like if I go to the mall, for sure, there's always gonna be two or three girls that will want pictures on their phone to Tweet. So, that's what often happens. It's a natural level of fame, too. It's not something that I'm annoyed by at all. I can still get all my errands done at the mall and take pictures. I don't get swarmed. I don't know if I'd want to get there frankly, but I'll have more problems.

13. What's the best thing about being on "The Middle"?

John: It's very, very close to -- well, the set is -- the creators are from Chicago. There's a lot people that write on the show who went to Northwestern. Most of the writers, in fact, lived in a local neighborhood, but they all have this kind of idea with how the set ought to be run. The production should be run like it's very, very close to the Midwest, and it's very friendly and it's very productive, personable, and polite. So, that's probably the best part of it. It's how well people get along and how basically easy we all make each other's jobs. Most of us actors are from the Midwest. Patty and I are from Cleveland. Neil Flynn is from Illinois. Charlie is from Pennsylvania. Eden, in fact, is the only one who is from anywhere outside the Midwest. Well, Eden and Atticus are from Encino and Acton. I grew up in Cleveland, but I was born in Little Rock. I left Arkansas when I was, like, 3 or 4 years old. I don't remember anything of it. It takes a few years of formation to be a Southerner, technically. I'm Cleveland for as much as I remember.

15. Do you plan on writing or directing in the future?

John: Yeah, absolutely. I'm writing a show right now with my brother on caddying. He and I were both caddies for, between the two of us, about 25 years together. I was a caddy for 11 summers, all told. We had about 10 summers at our home court in Cleveland, Ohio called Oakwood Golf Club. Jim and I also have a third brother that we caddied with at the same golf club, so we're in the midst of putting together that show, and it looks like it would be the perfect thing to put on Netflix or HBO. I think the world is ready for another Caddyshack-like project. It would be good. We haven't seen anything on TV since Caddyshack, because it was such a bomb. It was so bad. There have been a few independent films, but nothing like we have.

16. What other projects do you have coming up?

John: Just auditioning and doing some stand-up, stuff like that, but nothing that I can speak of right now that isn't a secret, basically. Let's see what they allow me to post on Twitter. It's weird. They keep everything so under wraps for so long. They tell you like this might happen or don't be too sure about this one, and they want you to come for a call-back next, so it's all this kind of stuff that happens. You don't want to count the eggs before they're hatched.

17. Anything else you'd like to tell your fans?

John: Keep watching the show. Love your support. Thank you so much for standing behind me, and keep following me. There's going to be much, much more stuff to come, and it's going to be even better.

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Page updated 4/13/14

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