HBO’s Ballers is about football, flash, money, and the inescapable magnetism of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but there’s also a dysfunctional family dynamic within the show’s talented ensemble (which includes John David Washington, Omar Benson Miller, Troy Garity, Jazmyn Simon, Richard Schiff, Donovan W. Carter, and London Brown). And at the heart of that is the relationship between Johnson’s character Spencer Strathmore and his semi-sleazy business partner Joe, played with mischievous charm by Rob Corddry.
In an interview ahead of the show’s season finale, Corddry spoke with Uproxx about Joe and Spencer’s friendship, Johnson’s vulnerability, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Ballers obsession, and why the former Daily Show correspondent and Childrens Hospital star/co-creator is happy to let others do the jobs he used to handle, especially in the age of Trump.
What was the reaction when you guys heard that the show has such a superfan in Senator Elizabeth Warren?
That came after we wrapped. So I don’t know what everybody else was thinking about it, I know Dwayne tweeted about it at one point.
Yeah, we had some fun with it.
I got to meet her a couple months ago. I went on Sam Bee’s show. Sam was interviewing her and she asked her about Ballers. She was like, “What’s the deal with you being a fan of Ballers?” Because we were both still kind of convinced that she was just saying that for a certain demographic, it is Massachusetts we’re talking about. And she was just like, “Oh my God, it’s my favorite show!” Once they saw Hillary was losing on election night, they just watched Ballers the whole rest of the night — her and her husband. And so obviously, she was like “This I can escape into.”
But the basis of the bit was Sam surprised her with me and I walked from the back and she goes “We have gift for you” and I walked out from back stage and she stood up and she went, “Joe!” It was amazing. But I asked her, I was like, “Why do you like Ballers so much?” And it made perfect sense. She is the fiscal policy senator, and every character in that show is at a different fiscal stage in their lives. Whether they’ve had it and they’re trying to get it again, they’re having it for the first time, they had it and lost it, they are right in the middle and they keep reaching for that brass ring. It’s a financial company, and everything they do moves the needle on their income. And I was like, “Of course, of course, you like this show.”
Chances of her making a cameo next season?
Listen, we’ve had weirder. I’d say not bad.
Steve Guttenberg as a Vegas mogul still feels funny, but he’s playing it well.
He reminds me of a David Lynch character. He’s the villain, and yet, he’s playing it in this kind of sweet… on the edge of smarmy. You know? It’s really interesting, I never would have made those choices. And he’s so fun to watch. He’s so gleefully focused on himself. I love it.
I think you need to put in a good word and try and get Guttenberg and Warren to share some screen time next season.
Yeah, that would be great, man. Oh God, I love him. Also, I can’t talk about Steve without mentioning that he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’s right up there with Henry Winkler in terms of just kind, beautiful souls, and I loved getting to meet that man.
Do you see Joe and Spencer coming into conflict either in the season finale or in the near future?
The one thing that I keep in mind when playing Joe is that he may be the kind of guy that gets himself in a lot of trouble. And he can drink all night and still go to work the next day without a hangover. But he’s also very good at his job, and he’s smart and he knows Spencer and knows when he’s maybe making decisions based on a personal basis rather than business, which is usually the case. And I sort of see Joe towards the end of this season as the angel on Spencer’s shoulder, whereas previously he was the devil. And he definitely does not agree with this sale, and that gets stronger. But I guess at the end of the day, his job is to back him up no matter what.