Interview: Thomas Lennon gets naked, talks ‘Franklin & Bash’

If you want to feel kind of lazy and possibly insecure about your own inability to finish a single load of laundry, talk to Thomas Lennon about his schedule. He’s written a bunch of scripts with “The State” and “Reno 911” co-star Robert Ben Garant (look for their big screen takes on “Baywatch” and “Night at the Museum 3” soon). He’s written a book, also with Garant, about how to break into Hollywood (“Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!”) Plus, he shows up in, well, pretty much everything. He’s also grown a most excellent mustache, which is more than enough, really. 

In addition to playing a mean boss this fall on the new NBC show “Sean Saves the World,” he’s a bounty hunter with self-control issues on “Franklin & Bash” tonight at 9:00 p.m. on TNT (if you missed that, don’t worry — he’ll remind you). His secret? Being kind of compulsive, though perhaps not in a crippling O.C.D.-I-left-the-iron-on-and-must-wash-my-hands-400-times kind of way. He even carved a few minutes out of an admittedly crazy schedule to talk with me and take off his clothes (well, that’s what he said, anyway; it was a phone interview). Here’s what he had to say about his Hollywood and Vine doppleganger, his “feud” with Breckin Meyer, and leaving bun prints on Linda Lavin’s car. 

Great to get a hold of you. I know you’re busy with “Sean Saves the World,” but what are you doing right now?
Right now I’m lying around naked in my dressing room. I just like to leave all the costume stuff out there outside the door. I thought I could use the fresh air on my naked body. Right now I’m going to step outside so I can gently rest my buns on Linda Lavin’s car. Oh, oh… that’s warmer than I thought it would be. 
Just as an update, I’m sitting nude on Linda Lavin’s car. When I have a mustache like this, no one tells me what to do. It’s pretty amazing.
So, is this why mustaches are back? They give people super powers? I thought it might be an ode to “Magnum P.I.” but I guess not.
I think it probably is why mustaches are back, a pretty big part . Although I am available for that, if we reboot “Magnum P.I.” I think anyone can see that my role in this episode of “Franklin & Bash,” which airs tomorrow at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central, really sets me up for that. You see, there’s  more stunts and running than I usually do, so it’s perfect.  
Speaking of which, tell me about your role. You’re a bounty hunter?
Here’s the thing. When you picture Tom Lennon, you picture macho, of course. I know that my playing a bounty hunter seems like a stretch, but when I stand next to Breckin Meyer, he makes me look incredibly macho in comparison. He’s very lithe. In this episode, I’m chasing people, plus you get to see my cool way with weaponry .
I associate you with Lieutenant Dangle, so it’s not a huge stretch, but how did they come to cast you?
I was told they wrote the part for me. If you look it up, Breckin [Meyer] and I had this huge feud, and this is a great part of the healing process. We’re working past the hurt. But go look for it, the TMZ feud that we had. It’s action packed, and it’s funny. 
This isn’t a great connection. Did you say you had a feud with Breckin Meyer?  
We had a feud that’s very easy to find on TMZ. If you just google Thomas Lennon and Breckin Meyer, it should pop up. 
So, are you represented by his character, Jared Franklin, on the show? That sounds awkward-slash-funny. 
I am represented by both Franklin and Bash, but I’m accused of roughing up a witness and going beyond the law. I’m not saying whether I’m wrongfully or rightfully accused of excessive force, but those guys try to save my neck. 
You’re a busy guy. You’re a writer, a director, you’re doing a sitcom, you’ve written a book, you name it. How do you squeeze in something like this?
All kidding aside, I love to do roles like this. While it’s a funny show, it has some totally dramatic aspects to it, some “Law & Order” intrigue. Anything that takes me out of my comfort zone, whenever I get to stretch my not-incredibly-stupid muscle, it’s just fun for me. This show is funny, but it’s also smart and there’s at least 50 percent dramatic work. And the guys are really amazing. It was an awful lot of fun. 
But you are really juggling a lot. 
I guess what I would say it helps to be super compulsive. I read an interview with Michael Caine, and he talked about how much he likes acting and never wants to stop. I truly love performing and improvising and I do feel compelled to write. You need to write at least 10 scripts for every one that gets made, so It helps to have an almost compulsive nature. For me, the other thing about it, when one thing makes you crazy, like getting notes on a script you’ve written, you get something like this “Franklin & Bash” episode. Constantly changing keeps me from getting complacent. I think it’s important.
You’ve been the guy calling all the shots, so how do you feel about just stepping in to a project like this?
Any time I get to do a show that’s well written and I don’t do anything in terms of writing, it’s a gift. It’s like finding a $100 bill on the ground. I did an episode of “Memphis Beat” that was a lot of fun with the same writer [as “Franklin & Bash”], and some of the same actors, so it’s great. I’d like to be that guy who shows up in everything. When I was growing up, someone would be on “Love Boat” and then “Quincy [M.E.]” the next, and I’d think, that’s weird; there’s that guy again. I’d love being that weird guy who’s in all sorts of different things.
But, at least to me, you’ll always be Lieutenant Dangle. Sorry. 
Part of everyone will always think of Lieutenant Dangle, I think. When I die, they’ll show a photo of me dressed as Lieutenant Dangle, I’m sure. You know, in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, there’s a guy dressed up as the character, so I know I’ve arrived. Now Dangle’s out there, hanging out with some guy dressed as Spider-Man, hugging people for tips. 
Have you visited him yet? 
I have not gone over yet, but my friend who works on Jimmy Kimmel has sent me some photos, so I may just have to go. Either it will go great, or it will be slightly awkward. One or the other. 
What are you working on right now, since you’re always working? 
Ben [Garant] and I are writing a couple of movies right now, and I’m working with Sean Hayes and Linda Lavin on “Sean Saves the World.”
Is Linda Lavin going to be upset you left naked butt prints on her car?
She’ll like it. She’s feistier than you might expect.