After a nine year run on TV’s The King of Queens, Kevin James now has big plans to become a movie star. To some, that may sound like a lofty goal but not to the 43-year-old comic. After all, his comedy heroes were also quite big. Literally.
“Jackie Gleason was a guy who could move and was a big guy,” James immediately said when asked of his idols during a recent interview. “I loved all the big guys – (John) Belushi, (John) Candy, Chris Farley — I had a connection to those guys and being (larger) myself, I really, really enjoyed how they moved and their style.”
If James doesn’t achieve his heroes’ level of fame, it surely isn’t for lack of physical ability. In his new big-screen comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop (in theatres next Friday) James plays a bumbling unarmed security guard who must defend his shopping centre from a gang of gun-wielding terrorists. In the process, he falls 45 feet through a glass skylight, gets punched out by a woman and wipes out into several large objects.
“We wanted it to be really, really physical and make it an action-comedy and we did, we went hard,” said James, who also co-wrote the film. “I went crazy for this movie because I said, ‘this is my idea, if I’m going to be out on the line, I’m going to push it’ and we certainly did.”
One such stunt involved running face-first into a glass door, a stunt that not only looks incredibly painful but involved James ricocheting back and flipping head over heels.
“That was a little insane,” laughs James. “I hit it hard. I just wanted to make it look real and it was real.”
Blart’s other comic device is his trusty Segway, the two-wheeled personal transporter many security personnel now possess in American malls.
“I laughed so hard when I saw (mall cops) on these things,” James admitted, insisting the first sight of him on the transporter was perhaps even more pathetic but a perfect gag for the film. “I look like Hitchcock floating basically — that’s all it was, just a mass floating by.”