Men at Work is right up a journalist’s alley you could say, since the successful TBS half-hour show centers around four journalists who work at, and work themselves up at, a sex-oriented magazine called Full Steam. Though I’m not saying that journalism is humorous per se, this show is a comedy, and it’s pretty funny!
Recently, Dish got a chance to speak with Danny Masterson about the show, and his new role as Milo, after 8 years of playing Steven Hyde on the enormously successful That 70’s Show. I must confess the interview took on a life of its own, beginning first as part of a phone-conference gone awry, and continuing on later in a phone interview that went quite well. Sort of like the ups-and-downs of an average relationship, one might say.
RR: So, you’re employed at a magazine in Men at Work?
DM: Yeah, it’s called Full Steam and the concept of the magazine is like a Maxim type magazine. My character Milo does the gadget and tech reviews, that kinda stuff. Michael Cassidy’s character Tyler is a feature journalist. Adam Busch’s character Neal works in marketing and James Lesure’s Gibbs is the photographer.
RR: And do you actually know anything about reviewing gadgets and tech stuff?
DM: No, nothing at all, because they’ve never had me talking about that. I’m mean, you see me at a computer, but you never know what I’m doing. Yeah, mostly I just write down Radiohead lyrics on my computer as I’m waiting to say my next line.
RR: Well I understand that in real life, you actually have an interest in a magazine called Card Player magazine? Is that right?
DM: Ok yeah, it’s a poker magazine. I don’t actually do anything for the magazine, I just invested in the company that owns it. I love playing poker though and Card Player is sort of the bible for the poker world. You read from all the Pros and the situations they come upon that you can learn from.
So being associated with them was sort of… I was honored for them to ask me and so myself, my brother Chris, and my '70s Show co-star Laura Prepon, we all bought a stake in Card Player.
RR: That’s fantastic! Has your card playing gotten better because of it? It’s making you money then?
RR: That’s a good investment.
Men at Work was created by Breckin Meyer, who has been quoted as saying that he “created the show to make himself laugh.” I was curious about what it’s like, working with the famed funny man.
DM: Yes, it’s really fun, I mean, basically, he just cracks the whip. He created my character and sort of loosely based it on himself when he was single. He wasn’t like a full ladies man. He was more like ‘Um, guys I don’t really know if we should go out…’
I mean, Breckin is one of the more intelligent people I’ve ever met. He’s an incredible writer, having been writing on Robot Chicken for the last, you know, six - eight years. He’s the wittiest person I know. He has the fastest comebacks, and his sarcasm is legendary. And so, basically I’m kind of playing a version of him on the show. It’s pretty nice to be able to go, like, ‘hey man, what do you want me to do with this line’ or ‘where is this joke going’ or ‘I don’t understand this reference’ because it’s some nerd thing that he is a big fan of. And so, getting to be able to do that, to ask him every once in a while to give me a line like, ‘tell me how you, how this is said in your mind?’ And him being such a good actor, he can just do it and you’re like ‘oh you meant it like that, cool no problem’. And then, I can go out and perform it.
DM: And so I’m like a curly haired version of Breckin.
RR: (laughing) Speaking of curly hair, is it natural? Or do you get a perm?
DM: Oh I permed it every morning for the last 30 years of my life!
RR: (laughing) See, I’ve always felt that was true!
DM: (laughing) Nah, I have curly hair. It’s like a giant afro.
RR: So how is it to be Milo? Do you like him?
DM: Yeah, he’s funny and weird. He’s a lot more sensitive than the characters I’ve played in the past, and more than I am. So a lot of times my ego will be like, ‘I wouldn’t say that! Oh, wait, but Milo would say that.’ Um, it’s been fun playing this guy that kinda gets dumped on a little bit by his friends. So it’s like I’m taking it now, instead of giving it.
RR: So has being Milo changed you?
DM: No (laughs), you know, I’m basically playing a certain version of Breckin Meyer
RR: That’s funny.
RR: So how would you describe this show? Is this like a man’s version of Sex in the City?
DM: I think that’s exactly what it’s trying to do. You know, I think the intention is literally, sort of, the relationship of these young guys. They’re decently successful; they live in New York City. One of them, my character Milo, was expecting to be married soon. The other two are lifelong bachelors and one’s this sort of normal guy, which is Adam Busch’s character. And you just have that, you know, it’s kind of like, what were the relationships with the girls on Sex in the City? The intertwining of all their love stories and business and career and what-not. And I feel like we’re doing the male version of that.
RR: The show is set in the office of Full Steam Magazine, so the shoe is on the other foot. In real life, do you enjoy working with the media, or do you think of it as something you just have to put up with?
DM: I think it depends on what type of media it is. I enjoy doing interviews. I enjoy promoting my job. I don’t mind kinda talking about anything in my life so I’ve done some long interviews. I sort of enjoy that. I don’t really like the tabloid-y stuff, like who’s dating who, and who is at what club. So if it’s questions about that, or when reporters are asking about people I’ve worked with in the past, or what my friends are doing, that’s always a little strange to me. But in terms of having a conversion with a journalist, I thoroughly enjoy that as long as they actually care about the interview as well.
RR: I was wondering if you would compare working on this show with That 70s Show. I mean, this is a shorter show, just 10 episodes per season. How does that affect your way of working?
DM: Okay. Well, working on That 70s Show - I mean, basically in terms of the structure of both jobs - they’re identically the same. You know, we have the same rehearsal period and pre-shooting day, and then we shoot in front of a live audience. You know on ‘70s, we had so many cast members that certain weeks if you had the A story, you maybe have six or eight scenes, and then some weeks you’d have only two scenes in an entire episode. Whereas on this show, I’m pretty much in just about every scene or ¾ of the show. So it’s sort of a lot more work and a lot more memorization and therefore for me, I like to rehearse a little bit more to make sure I know my dialogue. Whereas ‘70s, I could sort of walk in, run it once and leave and then sort of be done for the day.
RR: So do you miss Stephen Hyde?
DM: The character of Milo is 100% opposite from playing Hyde - Steven Hyde for so long. This guys a little bit more of a sensitive type whereas Hyde was the opposite of that. He was really fun. He was one of my good buddies for 8 years……like an asshole that made me laugh…...
RR: And what is he up to these days, or what do you think he’s up to?
DM: Umm, he’s drinking beer and cruising, hangin’ out. He’s hanging out with Tommy Chong, working in a photo hut.
RR: Most of your colleagues at That 70s Show are also working right now. You still keep in touch with them?
DM: Yes, very much so. I went to have dinner with [Ashton] Kutcher on Friday night. And then last week I was in New York City having dinner with Mila [Kunis]. So those are all - those are like my very closest friends. I still e-mail and text with Debra Jo [Rupp] and Kurtwood [Smith] all the time who played, you know, Red and Kitty. And so, yes, I love those guys. They’re like my family.
RR: So you said in an interview, which I found really funny, but I didn’t know what it meant,” My half of the story involves a magic toilet bowl”? Do you remember what you were talking about?
DM: Oh, I was talking about an episode that came up a few weeks ago. The episode was called "Toilet of Eden". It’s an episode where Milo moves into Tyler’s apartment, ‘cause Milo’s apartment came apart when the roof caved in. And the only rule that Tyler has is I’m not allowed to use his restroom what-so-ever. $5,000 toilet with an electric seat, MP3 player, fan, the whole thing. So Milo begins having a secret affair with the toilet.
RR: He is?!
DM: He is! And he’s sneaking in and using it and it feels like a dirty secret for him. And my half of the storyline for that episode involves the “Magic Toilet Bowl”.
RR: You seem to be so fun-loving. I love all the photos I see of you online, at this party or that premiere, laughing and wearing funny clothes and hats and all of that. Would you describe yourself as fun-loving?
DM: Yeah, I mean, I enjoy my life. I enjoy the people that I hang with. I enjoy my job. I enjoy art. I enjoy movies, music, sports, so generally, if I am doing those things then I am having fun. I don’t really have to do anything that I don’t like. You know, high school is over, I don’t have to do Math anymore.
RR: So, now about music! What does that mean to you? It seems to be huge, more than just a hobby right now. Doing the deejay thing as DJ Mom Jeans....
DM: Well, you know, music is...… When I was a child, my mom was playing records all day, every day in the house, so I would wake up and turn the radio on or put on an album. Silence is strange to me, there should always be music filling it.
RR: So, you’re working as a deejay, but are you a musician in any way?
DM: No, I’m not a musician. I can play the guitar a little bit. I can play the piano a little bit, but I’m not, I can’t write songs. I do rock songs which takes some production skills, and I’ve been playing other people’s music as a DJ since the 90s. And I sort of get that people like my song selections because I keep getting hired to the same parties.
RR: I read some genres of music that you like the most (rock, hip hop fanatic, indie, electro-punk) but do you have some specific band that you’re just crazy about these days?
DM: Um, yeah I’m crazy about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I’m crazy about... probably my new favorite band right now is called 8½. Their new album is unbelievable! And my new favorite LA band is a band called Dead Sara.....
RR: Okay, what’s coming up that you’re most excited about?
DM: I’m most excited to find out that my show got picked up for season 2. Ratings have been really good, so that’s sort of the new exciting thing. And then I just finished working on the new Polish brothers' film called Hot Bot in Utah. I have a new movie premiering called Alter Egos [BTW, Sean Lennon acted in and wrote the score for this intriguing movie]. I think that’s up in Montreal Film Festival, it’s ether Montreal or Quebec, I’m pretty sure it’s Montreal and then I have film called California Solo that’s traveling the film festival circuit as well, so that’s sort of the things I’m looking forward to.
RR: Ok, do you have a second to give me a one line comment about each project. What it’s about, what you felt?
DM: Oh Ok. Um. Hot Bot I kinda put as a modern day Weird Science. California Solo is about an ex-rock star down on his luck. And Alter Egos is a dark comedy super hero film.
RR: Anything else you’d like our audience to know?
DM: Ummm… Thanks for listening?
If you're not already a fan, be sure to watch this very funny comedy on TBS, airing Thursday nights at 10pm et. You'll be glad you did!