Omar Dorsey has been very busy lately. He recently starred in the HBO hit comedy “Eastbound & Down” as the character Dontel Benjamin. You might have also seen Omar in the Quentin Tarantino film “Django Unchained.”
Now you can watch Omar on the new FOX show “Rake” alongside Greg Kinnear. Greg Kinnear plays the role of Keegan Deane. He is the genius lawyer, but he is a degenerate in everything else in life. He is a degenerate gambler. He is a degenerate womanizer. He owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dorsey plays Kinnear’s friend, who is also Greg’s bookie.
Omar was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to talk about “Rake,” comedy, fatherhood, and what he learned from the cast of “Django Unchained.”
Art Eddy: You have been busy recently. Let’s first talk about your role on “Eastbound & Down.” How did you get involved in that show?
Omar Dorsey: I did it the old fashioned way. I auditioned for it. It was crazy. I met Danny when I was doing “Django.” He was doing “This is the End.” We were both in New Orleans. I ran into him. I asked him if they were bringing the show back. He said he didn’t know. He wanted to bring it back, but he didn’t know.
Then I swear two or three weeks later HBO was bringing it back. I was on a mission. It was my favorite comedy show. I have to get on this show, by hook or by crook. So when I go audition for it I see Danny. He was like hey. I was like I told you I wanted to get on your show. I went in there and knocked out the audition. We created the great character named Dontel Benjamin. It was fun.
AE: The show has a great cast which is headlined by Danny McBride. What was it like to work on a show that is very different from other comedy shows?
OD: It is a show that is real life. That is how dudes talk to each other. My mom watches it. She says that she doesn’t get it. She says she doesn’t understand the show. She asked me why does everybody curse. I told her that this is how we talk to each other. It is not like church. When we are watching sports or on the phone with each other we sometimes curse each other out. We don’t mean anything bad by it.
It is such a natural show. It is quite organic. Even the way that we shoot the show. Jody Hill is the show runner. He told us we were going wide open. You can say whatever you want to say within the structure of the show. We could improv. That was when the best stuff came out in the show.
AE: Do you have any cool behind the scene stories from that series?
OD: We shot in North Carolina. We were like a family. We stayed in the same hotel. We would go out to eat together all the time. We did everything together. When we got done with work we would meet in the lobby and go out to eat. That was the most fun thing in the world. We did that for two months. It was awesome.
AE: You star in the new show called “Rake.” Tell me about your character and the show.
OD: It is a great show. Greg Kinnear plays this character Keegan Deane. He is the genius lawyer. He is a degenerate in everything else in life. He is a degenerate gambler. He is a degenerate womanizer. He owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I play his friend, who also happens to be his bookie. He owes me money as well. I have to remind him quite often that he owes me money. We would be partying and go to the bathroom. I beat him up in the bathroom and tell him how much he owes me. It is just a fun role. Every week the role just keeps growing. It is like the role has a life of its own. I love it.
AE: What can the audience expect from this show?
OD: It is a fun show. I believe it will connect, because Greg Kinnear connects with people. It is the same thing like how “House” was. You would be like this guy is such a despicable character, but he is very likable. It is that type of thing. Or like how “The Shield” was with Michael Chiklis. He is not as bad as Michael Chiklis was, but he was that anti-hero type though. He tries to be morally good with his clients. That is how people will connect with him.
AE: I am a big fan of “Django Unchained.” What will you take away from your experience working on that film?
OD: That movie changed my life straight up. I was noticing the way Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sam Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and Walton Goggins work. I would sit back and watch. I like to ask questions. They really taught me on how to be an actor. It was like I was in acting school.
I would be sitting there with DiCaprio at lunch and would be talking about characters. This was right before he went to New York to do “Wolf of Wall Street.” I asked him how he does that. He goes from one role to the other. He has to learn all these lines. He said that is why they pay you.
Watching their work ethic. Watching their brilliance. All those people were great. Quentin Tarantino has the best eye for talent. Watching all these actors who I admire and their process was showing me how it was done. Nothing has been the same for me since then. After “Django” I came back and started really working a lot. It has been non-stop since then, because I learned those lessons from what those guys taught me.
AE: What are some words of wisdom that you have passed on to your children?
OD: I like to give my kids game. I have a 14 year old girl. Ever since she was 10 she was talking about boys. Everything I told her about boys she would be like, ‘You know what daddy you were right about that.’
I tell her just ignore him for a little while and see what happens. At first she was like no, but I told her to do that. If you ignore him he will find you very intriguing. (Both laugh.)
I love hanging out with my girls. I try to drop those jewels of wisdom on them all day and every day. I am very fond of them. They are straight A students. My youngest has been a straight A student all her life. My 14 year old was struggling for a bit, but now she is a straight A student. That is the best thing in my life. They make everything whole in my life.
AE: What are some of the major differences from when you were a kid growing up to now as your kids are growing up?
OD: The internet. The internet and cell phones. You got to remember when I was a kid and I wanted to call someone you had to use the house phone. Your mom could be in your face the whole time. There was no privacy, which is better.
Now we have to navigate parenting through those type of things. There is Facebook or cyberbullying. With a cell phone they can go into their rooms and lock the door. When I was kid I didn’t have a private line or anything. I had to use the house phone when I wanted to call my friends. When I was 14 years old I would be talking to a girl on that house line for two to three hours.
That is the major difference. It is technology man. I had a TV in my room growing up. My mom told me that she didn’t have one when she was growing up. So technology changes everything. For each generation it is something new.
AE: What were some of the first things that came into your mind when you became a dad for the first time?
OD: I think it was that you now have a responsibility. Before you could do whatever you wanted to do. You could eat ramen noodles and nobody cares. Now I thought that I really got to buy groceries.
I can’t just go out and get McDonalds every day. I have to go to the grocery store every day now. This was when my kid was on formula or breastfeeding. Plus I was like okay I have to get a job now. I was a starving actor getting $200 per play in Atlanta. If I was lucky. Sometime I would just get $100 a week. I was also in grad school. I said to myself that I really got to become an adult now. It was real fun, but then I needed to be responsible. It was the best thing because I became a man.