This is gonna sound a tad weird, but stick with me here …
A few months ago, I was desperately trying to locate former NBA forward Harvey Grant. I asked different people I knew. I called several contacts. I checked with people who had played with him. Then, after no success, I headed over to Twitter and searched—literally—”Harvey Grant.”
And now, thanks to the magic of the information superhighway, we’re here.
Grant Harvey isn’t Harvey Grant. He’s shorter, younger and less athletic. Yet because life can be awesome and fun and serendipitous, the 354th Quaz is nothing short of fantastic. Grant plays Roy on the new ABC series, “The Crossing,” which debuted on April 2 to both strong reviews and ratings. But while his acting and modeling careers have been impressive, he’s also a former University of Nevada journalism major who hates Donald Trump, knows how to make a mean pizza and doesn’t mind telling one great story after another.
He is the new Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: So Grant, you play Roy on “The Crossing,” a series that debuted on ABC this week. And I wonder—what does that feel like? What I mean is, obviously it’s exciting and a huge deal. But are you nervous? Can you possibly know whether the series takes or doesn’t? Do you feel helpless? Hopeful? In control? Totally out of control?
GRANT HARVEY: I’ve been making a living at acting for about nine years now, and I’ve learned to not think about this type of thing too much. I mean, if I audition for something, for example, I’ve kinda trained myself to completely forget about whatever it was I just auditioned for by the time I get to my car. That’s really the only way to survive being an actor. Because really, we have zero control most of the time. All I can truly control is doing my job the best I possibly can and then hope for the best. And when it comes to The Crossing, I’m definitely hoping for the best. For sure. It’s a great show and I’m really proud of it. That I know. But I have no clue how it’s gonna perform. No one does. It should, because it’s a hell of a good show, but who the hell knows? I’d go crazy if I was thinking about that all the time. But it’s definitely an odd moment to be in—waiting for this big anticipated show to come out. It’s like a long, drawn out calm before the storm thing, where you’re just doing yard work and reading and doing things to keep your mind off it. When things happen for me, it’s always kind of like an afterthought. Like, “Oh wow, this is happening now. Great. Awesome. Let’s do this.”
J.P.: Along those lines, how did you land the role? Soup to nuts, how did it happen?
G.H.: These awesome casting directors, Sheila Jaffe and Gail Goldberg, cast this show. They had actually brought me in for this big movie and I got really close to getting that part. And they were fighting for me to get it. Then I didn’t. Then a few weeks later they brought me in for The Crossing. They had me read for another role at first. The role of Marshall. The guy who actually got that part is one of my really good friends now, Tommy Bastow. He’s a British chap. Likes tea a lot. And strumpets. We even got an apartment together up in Vancouver while shooting. Roomies. I still need to send him his half of our deposit refund.
But anyway, yeah, I read for his role first. And I walked out of that audition thinking I had shit the bed. I was sure of it. But then a week later Sheila and Gail called me back in for the role of Roy. I also thought I shit the bed with that one. Then I got called to read for the producers. Felt a little better about that one. Then I’m told that I might get the part. At that time, the role of Roy wasn’t as big as it later became. It wasn’t a series regular part. But then a few more days go by and my agent calls me and tells me that they upgraded the role to a series regular. So then I did a screen test at ABC. I’ll never forget this—when I finished doing the scene, I started walking out of the room, which is always awkward, and as I passed by Sheila she gave me this subtle thumbs up and had this smile on her face. Right then I knew I got the part.
J.P.: There’s no rhyme or reason to this question, but in 2009 you played “Wolves Team Captain,” in Hung, a vastly underrated HBO series. I’m a fan of small role stories, so what was your small role story?
G.H.: Ha! Dude. I was a n- job, struggling actor on a couch and Central Casting called me and asked if I was a good basketball player. Apparently I marked that box when I originally signed up. But I was an OK basketball player. And I was willing to take any job I could get. So I was all about it. I remember driving to set early in the morning. I was going down the 101 and I watched this car next to me crash and start rolling—metal flying everywhere. It was surreal. A ton of cars stopped all around it. I kept on to set and played basketball all day. We ran the floor and they just shot it. I remember Thomas Jane doing all his takes in his bare feet.
J.P.: According to your IMDB bio, you grew up running your family’s pizza parlor in Hawthorne, Nevada. Um, what? Do tell? And, as a fellow Southern California resident, why is the pizza out here so shitty?
G.H.: It’s all about the crust and sauce. My dad opened Harvey’s Pizza in 1979. He had a great sauce and a great crust. And I think the key to the crust was the elevation. Hawthorne, about 40 miles away from Mammoth, CA, was at about 4,500 feet above sea level. That added something to the crust that you can’t really get at sea level. When my brother and I were born, and once we were old enough, we started running the place. Those were some of the best years of my life. I was this 13-year-old kid, taking inventory, doing payroll, making the sauce and the dough, taking orders. Everything. My brother and I literally ran that place.
But one of the funniest things was that my dad made the worst pizzas. Kinda like how a mechanic has the shittiest car on the block. My dad developed this wonderful recipe and establishment, but his pizza-making skills were the worst. Regular customers would whisper under their breath, “Make sure your dad doesn’t make it” if he was behind the counter. And he had no idea how bad he was at it. Like, eight pepperonis on a large pepperoni pizza with spotty sauce and mozzarella clumped up in one corner of the pie. I’m not kidding. It was horrible. But it was great. It was endearing. Everyone knew it but him. But everyone loved his restaurant. So long as he wasn’t doing the cooking.
J.P.: So you attended the University of Nevada as a journalism student. Which leads to the question: Why would you become something as lame as an actor in a potentially huge TV series when you could have been just like me? (In all seriousness, why no journalism?)
G.H.: Haha. Yeah man, I always wanted to be an actor. I always loved movies. I was always obsessed with them. But coming from where I come from, you couldn’t really say, ‘I wanna be an actor when I grow up.’ That type of thing was out of the question. But writing—it fulfilled the exact same outlet as acting and movies did for me. And I was good at it. I had a natural grasp of the English language and writing. So I ran with that. I started writing for a handful of publications. And I was getting paid, which was great. But after a couple years of that, in college, I said fuck it, and literally just left without telling anyone and went to L.A.
J.P.: You worked as a model. I used to have people tell me my daughter should model, and my response was always,”No fucking way.” Is modeling fun? Awful? I just hated the idea of her putting so much weight on looks, appearance, etc.
G.H.: I hated it. I wanted to be an actor. But when I got to L.A., it was a lot easier to get a modeling agent than an acting one. So I went with it. I’m actually still friends with my very first agent—my modeling agent. Jami Wrenn. Love her. But yeah, I despised modeling. It’s whack. It was all so ridiculous.
I remember I was in Milan and got an audition for some tv show in L.A. I cut my whole time there short and got a flight back to L.A. to make it back for the audition. The best thing about Milan, though, was when I first got there. At the time, it was miserable. But now it’s the highlight. So I landed in Milan. The airline lost my bag. Mind you, this was right before iPhones and navigation. My Blackberry didn’t work outside of the US. And my information sheet—all the contacts I needed once I got to Milan—was in my lost bag. And I had about $800 to my name. After pacing around the airport for a couple hours trying to figure shit out, the dude in the foreign exchange booth asked me what my deal was. He spoke English. Cool kid named Peter. He offered me a ride and drove me around like a maniac through the streets of Milan trying to find this modeling agency I was supposed to meet at in the middle of the night. We never found it. He told me how his girlfriend would flip out if he brought me home to stay with them, so he dumped me at this hotel.
But this Peter guy was awesome. He talked down the price for me. So I got to bed about 3 am and then had to be at the agency at 8 am. Still didn’t know where it was. I walked out of the hotel in the morning and it was right around the fucking corner, that’s where it was. As soon as I walked in there the head model agent guy looked at me and said, “Your face doesn’t look the same good as it did before.” What a fuckface. So I went out on all these castings with all these other assholes who were, like, better looking versions of me, and I hated it. I hated it. It was a zero-talent venture. And I was in the same clothes for a week, doing this. I didn’t book one job over there. When I got back to L.A. I was dead broke. These five girls let me sleep on a couch in their laundry room for a while. I’m grateful to those ladies.
J.P.: I once spent a day on the set of a TV show called “Love Monkey.” It starred a bunch of people you’ve heard of, but it didn’t last long. And I was pretty psyched for the experience. Then I arrived and watched the same scene shot 25 times in a row. I said to Jason Priestly, “This all looks pretty boring.” And he said, “Brother, you have no idea.” So … the TV show experience? Fun? Boring? Repetitive? Amazing? What?
G.H.: Bahhhh. Champagne problems. The waiting is why we got trailers. It might sound cheesy, but I’m never bored on a set, whether I’m in my trailer or in my chair or on my mark. I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing. And I love every second of it. I really do. There’s a lot of waiting around if you’re an actor. That’s part of the job. But that’s because, while an actor’s waiting, there’s 100 other people busting their asses to make sure the next shot is correct. They’re out in the cold, literally working for hours on end, while I’m in my trailer watching a movie or playing Mario Kart. I’ll be profoundly disappointed in myself if I ever consider waiting around on a set boring. It’s fun. It’s fun all the way.
J.P.: A few months ago on your Instagram account you featured an image of a Denver Broncos player with a raised fist, and you wrote, “I’ll gladly take a knee and raise a fist with sons of bitches than stand up with “very fine people.” Any day, all day.” And I wonder—how concerned do you need to be about taking a stand? You’re a young guy, blooming career. Is there a line you can’t cross? Have people ever said, “Grant, be careful about this stuff”?
G.H.: Well my mother definitely monitors my Tweets. I’ll be so enraged sometimes, especially over the last year, that I’ll unleash on Twitter, and then I’ll get a text from Mom, who lives back East, who starts her day at about 5 am, telling me that it’s a bit too much. And she’s right. She really is. I have to be cautious about what I put out there. But when it comes to things like racial injustice or an idiot president or homophobia, I’m standing my ground. I’m happy to go on record speaking out against that shit. All my life, most of my friends have been the guys getting pulled over for no actual reason and I’ve got multiple family members and tons of friends who just so happen to be gay. I’d definitely be taking a knee and raising a fist.
J.P.: Greatest moment of your acting career? Lowest?
G.H.: That’s tough. Well, If I had to pick one, I guess the greatest moment would be my first big gig. At the time, I was sleeping on a couch in some apartment with the grossest bathroom ever. So I’d go to the gym everyday, more to shower than to work out. And then one day I came back to the apartment and I had a voicemail from my agent telling me that I had booked my first show. That was pretty great. I still have the voicemail.
The lowest moment—hands down—was immediately after I got my first straight offer for television. Which means I didn’t have to audition. They just offered me the part. The last conversation I ever had with my dad was me telling him about that. It was an episode of Criminal Minds. So right before I was about to start the episode, my dad, who my brother and I were extremely close with, died unexpectedly. I got a call one afternoon from my brother and I just heard, “Dad died.” I’ll remember that for as long as I live. But the crazy part about it was that the episode had already begun shooting. It was too late to replace me. So get this—my role in the episode was a guy who kills his entire family at a dinner table before sitting across from his dad and letting him see his dead family, and then killing him, too. I think the ep is called “A Place at the Table.” I flew back and forth from my father’s memorial and shooting that episode. Brutal right?
J.P.: So I’m not sure if you saw this, but Jim Carrey recently sorta gave up on Hollywood. He just seems tired of it all. The red carpet. The inane interviews. The posing, the preening. Just a general vapidness that really got to him. He’s got years in the game that you don’t. But … do you get it at all? Like, can you see where he’s coming from? Or is it craziness?
G.H.: Yeah, I hear him. First of all, he’s an incredibly intelligent dude. He’s also achieved a level of success that few ever will. I think those two ingredients combined offer a person a unique glimpse into the world. I mean, who the hell knows how we’d be or how we’d think if we were in his shoes. I just hope he does some more acting in some low-budget indies. I think he’s got something special to offer there.
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH GRANT HARVEY:
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Harvey Dent, Steve Harvey, Harvey Weinstein, Hurricane Harvey, Harvey Grant, Bryan Harvey, Harvey Kuenn, Harvey Korman: Bryan Harvey, Harvey Korman, Steve Harvey, Harvey Grant, Harvey Kuenn, Harvey Dent, Harvey Weinstein, Hurricane Harvey.
• Who wins in a 12-round boxing match between you and Michael B. Jordan?: Michael B.
• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Every time I’m in a plane I do.
• One question you would ask Mario Soto were he here right now?: Where’s Cincinnati?
• The world needs to know—what was it like working with Jonathan Rosenthal on “Starcrossed”?: It was brief.
• Five reasons one should make Hawthorne, Nevada his/her next vacation destination?: Well Harvey’s Pizza isn’t there anymore. But… there are a bunch of good people there. At least five. Stop through and meet them at Joe’s Tavern.
• Three memories from playing “Pete McCrone” on CSI?: 1. George ran lines with me in his trailer and we drank cokes and ate sandwiches; 2. The dude who punched me is Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad; 3. Ted Danson is as cool as you’d think he is.
• You have a clover tattoo. What’s the story behind it?: Dad was Irish. My brother and I both got the tat. it says “we are” below it. Our dad’s alma matter is San Jose St. When he was there, their school slogan was “we are.” So it stuck with dad. By the time he was saying it to Brian and I, it basically meant “I love you.” He said it all the time. When we’d get off the phone, get out of the car or hug him goodbye. It’d always be, “we are.”
• Are farts more funny or gross?: Funny. But I’m sexist with this one.
• If you win an Emmy for 2018, can you thank me in your acceptance speech? And my Uncle Marty—he’s really nice: No.