Who is that handsome police officer you ask? That’s no cop, that’s actor Page Kennedy in character for his role on the new Fox series Backstrom. But don’t let the stern gaze fool you, as Kennedy is one of the rising comedic actors of our time, and a viral sensation in the popular Vine community. What you may not know about the former Weeds and Blue Mountain State star is that he is also a gifted basketball player, and hoops with other familiar faces in Hollywood on the regular in their special league, formerly known as the NBAE.
As he anticipates the fan response to Backstrom, Kennedy took a few moments out to talk with us about his passion for basketball, how he’s been able to go from Shakespeare to crazy comedy skits, and why he’s really doing it for the Vine!
Can you tell us a little about the basketball organization that you play for, and what your passion is for the game?
Page Kennedy: The irony of that question is I love basketball so much that I drove all the way to Hollywood just so I can get my games in today, and I’m literally leaving basketball right now. During the week it’s just recreational ball that we play, but I also play in the Entertainment league, which is kind of like a league that has all kinds of entertainers in it and collectively we’ve been there for 10 or 11 years and it’s evolved. It used to be NBA Entertainment League, but then they changed through time.
Any of your teammates that you play on a regular basis with that you’re particularly competitive with?
PK: I guess any other actors that I know. We get pretty competitive. Basketball is competitive anyway. It’s just fun, and it’s a nice environment to be in knowing that no one is going to try and hurt you and we all have the same agenda outside of basketball. It’s a good and clean game for the most part.
Of all your friends, who is the best trash talker that you know that could go toe to toe with you?
PK: Well probably my friends Alphonso McAuley and King Bach. We like to make fun of each other all the time, so those are my favorites.
Who are your top three favorite basket players of all time?
PK: Well, my all time favorite basketball player is Kobe Bryant, and then it will be Michael Jordan. That third spot is difficult to me, because I may want to say Shaquille O’Neal or Isaiah Thomas. That third slot is a tough one, but one and two for sure.
What makes Kobe special to you? He’s a controversial guy.
PK: Yeah, he is. But the same thing that makes Kobe special is the same thing that makes Mike special. What makes me drawn to them is their hunger to win. Their eagerness to be the best, their will to push themselves through all odds, their willingness to sacrifice the social gain to make history.
I don’t think Kobe cares about what people think about him personally. I think he only cares about producing and execution and the legacy that he leaves. I care about that, and am like that as well. So it drives me to want to be better, seeing that type of focus and intensity.
For all the success and popularity of your Vines, you could be capitalizing off of it, but you’ve chosen to not take sponsorship or monetary engagements of any kind. Do you want to explain the thought process behind that? Some people would say you’re crazy.
PK: I’m an actor. I do Vines, social media, YouTube, in order to find my already generated audience from the television and to make a new audience for the new generation so as I get older and they older, they stay with me because they’ve been with me since they were younger. That’s may main objective, to build an online following and empire.
Plus, because I dabble in everything, I just want to be a part of it all. I want to have my hands in it all: TV, commercials, movies, Vine, YouTube, everything I can. I don’t want to confuse my audience. I don’t want them to think “Oh he’s doing brand deals now. I wonder what that means.” I’m a working actor so I make my money that way. I don’t need to make it by doing brand deals.
I just want my audience to know that it’s 100% genuine stuff from me, not me trying to capitalize on that. I don’t have anything against the Viners who do that, because that’s how they make a living and that’s a great living to make – good for them. It’s just that I don’t need to do it.
We hear a lot of celebrities are banging on your door to get on your Vine. Do you have a process of elimination for who you actually allow?
PK: it depends on who the person is. If they’re funny, if they’re not funny, what other attributes could they offer. Just because you’re an actor doesn’t mean you could be a good Viner. Vine is its own thing. Just because you can get Robert De Niro, one of the greatest actors in the world, doesn’t mean he could be a good Viner. I would have to try to capitalize off of their strengths and see what they have to offer in order to make the Vine geared towards that.
How do you feel that all of your education and training in Shakespearian genre have helped you as a comedian, and as a more light-hearted actor in some of the shows that you’ve done?
PK: it all goes hand in hand for me, and it’s just honesty. When I’m being funny and silly, I think part of why it’s funny is because it’s believable. I believe what I’m doing and saying, and because I believe what doing and saying, it might make it funny or the obnoxiousness of it might make it funny.
The same goes for drama. I’m completely honest in my approach and my delivery, so I think that’s why it works. I’ve learned things from being in school and techniques having the experience in Shakespeare, so I try and incorporate what I’ve learned. I also study a lot. I watch a lot of television and movies, and I study people who I think are awesome and great and try to incorporate some things I like about them into what I do.
What would you say is the number one thing that you’ve learned about staying relevant in your career?
PK: Evolving, not just feeling like you know all the answers, not feeling too good or too big. I’d gotten to YouTube three years ago, and initially I thought about YouTube the same way all actors thought about it… Why go do something for free?
What I’ve realized that there’s a whole new audience there – a new audience that could be tapped in and be supporters of you. I had to learn that these other platforms though they aren’t as big as TV or movies, but still have audiences. I want that audience, because it comes with them supporting everything else I do. I think I surround myself and the social media things that I do by people who are current, hip and young.
I was fortunate enough to be on a cult following TV show that’s for younger people, and I kind of have that demeanor on me. I keep my ear to the streets and the culture and I adapt to it. Those are all the ways I try to keep myself relevant.
What are your current and upcoming projects that what are you excited about?
PK: I have this show Backstrom that’s coming up on Fox. That is my main project that I have happening. I play Officer Frank Moto, and he’s in a special crimes unit which is a unit of people brought together with their skills to help detective Everett Backstrom solve crimes. Backstrom, played by Rainn Wilson is a misanthropic character. He’s a drunk, bigot, alcoholic and he’s a brilliant detective, yet terrible cop.
We’re there to make sure the criminals that he catches we’re able to keep and hold up in court. He has this group of people there to help assist him. I’m kind of the muscle and heart of the group. I’m like his personal bodyguard and I’m also the genuine, young rookie trying to move up to be a detective. Everything I do is supported by my desires to become detective, which is what everyone else is in the group.
What do you want people to know most about you as a man at this stage of your life and career?
PK: I’m someone who’s hungry to create. I’m someone who wants to leave a name and legacy for people to follow and aspire to be like. I just want to leave what God has given me here and create so much art that it lasts when I’m gone. I want to be a good dad, and I want to be a good person.
Find out more about Page Kennedy at PageKennedy.com, and follow him on Twitter @PageKennedy, on Instagram @PageKennedy and on Facebook.com/PageFanClub
Get Page’s hilarious videos on YouTube.com/user/PageKennedy and Vine.co/PageKennedy