In the 1989 feature film “Uncle Buck,” John Candy originated the role of the bungling, but lovable, uncle with an unusual way of dealing with children. That film serves as a launching spot for the new ABC comedy, “Uncle Buck,” starring Mike Epps.
Executive producer Will Packer, executive producer of “Straight Outta Compton,” was looking to create a family drama and thought the “Uncle Buck” concept was the way to go.
Buck becomes the last resort for Alexis (Nia Long) and Will (James Lesure) when they need someone to watch their children. Logically, Uncle Buck wouldn’t be trusted taking care of a goldfish, but he surprises them with his efforts.
Epps is best known for his work in “The Hangover,” “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and “Next Day Air.” He talks with television critics about his latest role.
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Q: How does it feel taking on a role originated by John Candy?
A: John Candy, he was a good one. John Candy definitely goes down in my number 10, you know, of being one of the greatest iconic comics, for sure.
Q: How will your version be different?
A: I think this show is education for those who don’t know who ‘Uncle Buck’ was. There are so many kids, my kids, your kids, who didn’t get a chance to see the movie of John Candy, so they don’t know what they are watching. They know they’re watching something new and fresh.
Q: How was it working with the show’s young cast members?
A: It’s cool. You know, being that I have so many kids now, that I just ride through the hood and wave now.
Q: Does the new role mean you are gone from “Survivor’s Remorse”?
A: What happened was, I asked for some more money, and they killed me. That’s usually what happens on TV shows. If you can remember “Good Times,” that’s what happened to James. He asked for some more money. “Uncle Buck,” ABC is my priority. This is a show that I’m deeply ingrained in. I’m surrounded by good people, and I’m leading the show.
Q: Any concerns that the series won’t reach a broad audience?
A: Believe it or not, there is an “Uncle Buck” in every race. There is an Asian Uncle Buck, the white Uncle Buck. We got an Indian, Taj Mahal Uncle Buck. And so “Uncle Buck” is speaking for all the Uncle Bucks of the world.
Q: How much improvising do you do on “Uncle Buck”?
A: That’s always the concern of an actor, especially comedians. We like to go off the page and stuff. But when you are working with good actors, like Nia and James, and the writers are writing stuff that I don’t have to always go back to them and complain, “Man, I don’t talk like that.” A couple of times, I’m like, “Dude, are you miking my car or something? You’re saying exactly what I would say, you know.”
(Editor’s note: Story was updated to correct time, date)
- 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, ABC (Channel 30.1)