The following story contains light treats for The Righteous Gems Season 2.
For some reason he does not quite understand, Adam Devine constantly finds himself surrounded by giant, muscular men. a 2012 episode of Slave, the show that conquered him to comedy fame and that he co-created (and wrote, and starred in), featured a group of macho Christian men called “The Lord’s Force.” It was just a one-off plot, but was something in which Devine saw a lot of comic potential. “I always thought, THEh, it’s such an interesting world. I would like to dive deeper,he says laughing.
Good news: Danny McBride had the same thought (Namely that it was “wild”). McBride, now the creator, showrunner and star of HBOs Follow-upbut-some-wild satirical dark comedy The Righteous Gems, had memories from his youth of a similar travel group of massive, completely hacked Christian Warrior Macho Men who show up in town and perform power performances, such as tearing phone books in half. And when it’s time to exploit that memory for ideas for the second season of Gemstones, a show about the power dynamics of a rich and powerful evangelical family, he thought it would fit perfectly with Devine’s character, youngest brother Kelvin Gemstone.
Enter season 2 of Gemstones, where Devine’s main story arc finds him leading the Kelvin Gemstone God Squad; he, along with his trusted friend / partner / we do not really know Keefe (Tony Cavalero), leads a group of enormous, oiled muscle men, who perform ridiculous power performances in the name of faith. McBride sees the humor in linking these groups together. “Adam and Tony are both pretty jerky, but then you get them on set with these guys who are like 6’5 ”, and suddenly they just look tiny,” he says, laughing. “But they all took it easy.”
This time, Devine is not just an observer of “The Lord’s Force” as he was in Work slave—He is actually part of the group. And he thinks the evolving tropics — where he is surrounded by really giant men with even bigger muscles — are staggering. “I do not know why,” he says laughing. “But I like it!”
And in the latest episode, “As to How They Might Destroy Him,” family patriarch Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) has had enough of whatever Kelvin does. The two have a confrontation that leads to an almighty fight (stick to a running story that reveals that Eli is not quite the saint when he introduces himself; a characteristic move of his violent youth? Break someone’s two thumbs up) . And fighting John Goodman is something anyone would want to know. So we started talking to Devine about the makings of the Kelvin Gemstone God Squad, some of the wildest Season 2 tricks, and the key to spend so much time with a group of giant, giant men.
Men’s Health: Let’s dive right in: what was it like to have a slap in the face with John Goodman?
Adam Devine: The man has fleshy hands. And he does not hold back.
I remember he slapped me once in season 1. In one of the first episodes, he punches me in the face. And he does not clapped me in the face. There was no, kind of Hhere, let’s talk about the stunt. It was just, John Goodman slapped me in the face with his big bear paws. But this time it was more of a choreographed fight. And we planned it a little better.
But, admittedly, pretty scary: look up at John Goodman, and let him stand with a clenched fist over you. Because I think if he wants to, John Goodman can break both my thumbs.
Was it a difficult trick to do?
I remember they wanted me to dive through this table. And I’m like, I could dive through a table. Look at me, I’m a fucking athlete, dude. And they were like, no, we’ll just have a stunt double, we do not want you to get hurt, and then we’ll have to shut down production, blah, blah, blah. And then, one of the last tasks, they were like… do you want to dive through that table? And I’m like I do. And then I dove through the table. And that was ultimately the tasks they used, because I could tilt my head back and get on camera.
I’m a pretty athletic guy. I practice quite a lot so I can do such things. I’m coming of age — sure, it’s like, like, I do not have a jaw that touches my tits. But I’m getting to the age where I am, I want to be able to do things as I get older. So this is how I work now.
Is it harder to do a trick where something does not come out (like the Human Pyramid scene earlier in the season) than a trick that is supposed to be, like, a cool action scene?
Yes. I feel it’s more natural to me if it does not come out. I feel like if I just did a cool action scene, the audience would be just like This does not look real … he should have fallen and hurt himself. Just his whole aura looks like a guy who has to injure himself.
It was a little scary. I was hit by a cement truck as a kid, so I have bad knees, and bad ankles, and all that kind of stuff. If I fall any distance, even jump down, like three steps, my knees are like, hey mate – relax with all this jumping.
I remember hearing you tell the story of the cement truck on Marc Maron’s podcast A few years ago. I think it’s interesting because so much of your comedy is willingness to do physical good, like what we talked about. Does having such a traumatic event in your past have anything to do with how you think about this kind of humor today?
I am used to using my body in different ways through years of physical therapy. When you do have such an injury … like, I learned how to fall and not hurt myself. When I recovered from the accident, it was like a period of two years where I could not walk. So, I would be in a wheelchair, and then my walker, and then crutches, and then I would need another operation, then back to the wheelchair. Then the walker, then crutches again.
So, I’m still a kid. I was in 6th or 7th grade, and I try to make my friends laugh, and to this day I watch people fall down stairs: really funny. So I will act as if I am walking down the stairs with my crutches and then just eating it. And I learned how to fall very well. And I think that’s why I keep using my body for comedy purposes. [LAUGHS].
As someone who a) watches a lot of documentaries and b) watches a lot of horror movies, I also got cult leader vibes from Kelvin.
Completely. I think for Kelvin he just has a feeling… he does not get much respect in his family, and he wants that respect, and he will find it in any way he can. I think he’s trying to get it from these men who’s apparently lost, who just want help and some guidance. And he takes full advantage of these guys – much like a cult leader would.
You have a bunch of shirtless scenes with the Kelvin Gemstone God Squad guys. Have you done any kind of special preparation?
Tony Cavalero and I practiced every day. And there’s a lot of downtime when you’re on such a big ensemble program, because there’s like five different storylines happening in each episode. So, you might work two days, then you kind of have the rest of the week off. So, I rode a lot of bikes, and then Tony and I did a bunch of HIIT-type stuff in my backyard like a bunch of psychopaths.
I did not take it that serious. I certainly did not keep my diet in check because the food in Charleston [Where Gemstones films] is so damn good. And this is funnier than Kelvin … he seems to be working out, for sure, but he does not look like Torsten, or any of the guys who actually in fantastic shape. It’s like Yeah, look at that guy, he’s trying!
Dannie mentioned that you and Tony are both exercising and in good shape, but when you stand next to some of the God Squad guys, it’s … an interesting contrast.
This is hilarious. It’s like, disappointing. You’re like, I work out every day. Like, I’ll never look like that, no matter what. They say your body builds in the kitchen, and that’s absolutely true. I’m in my mid to late 30’s now, and the things I could do in my early 30’s and ’20s … I could jump back from a weekend where I’re just drinking beer and eating cheeseburgers, and then by Tuesday, I like THEh, I look amazing, I look just like myself.
Well, I’m like [MONSTER GURGLING SOUND], just going in next week, and it’s only a week and a half later that I get my old body back. I see the difference.
Kelvin, who sometimes looks even more like Jesse or Judy, seeks his father’s approval. This storyline is like an over-the-top approach on the Alpha Male path to his father’s love, in the form of these macho men chasing him.
Absolutely. That’s for sure what it is. All Kelvin is doing at the moment is showing his dad that he’s a tough, bad guy, just like him, and that he needs to be respected. This is obviously a very deceptive way to go about getting your dad’s love; to surround yourself with 30 oiled muscular men building huts in your front yard for them to live in and exercise with. But this is Kelvin — he’s pretty much misled. Even when his intentions are pure, he finds a way to fuck it up.
Where do you see Kelvin Gemstone in 10 years?
I think Kelvin is going to find out. To me, he is the one — even though he has these refugees. Like in season 1, when he was like Am I god? I can be. And then this season he’s like a cult leader because he’s trying to get his dad’s respect.
Jesse, I think, wants so badly to be powerful that it will hurt him. Judy, you know, is a hilarious mess. But Kelvin has his feet on the ground enough that I really hope for his sake, that he’s figured it out. But, my god, it would be funny to see how he tries.
He and Keefe can keep each other grounded.
That’s right. Well, I also think it’s going to be like … Kelvin’s married. But Keefe is still there. And you’re like waiting, Aare they …? Are they not …? I do not know what’s going on here.
You have a fearless approach to comedy. What is something you would push back on?
I have my opinions. If I do not think something is funny, I will push it back. But as far as being edgy, or being too far out there … the funny thing is the baseline. If it’s too far out there, but it’s really funny? Then, hell yes, let’s do it. And I’m lucky to work with Danny Fokken McBride, so when he picks something for me, even if it does not click with me right away, I sit with it for a minute, and then I go THEh. Yeah, no, that’s hilarious – because my comedy god told me that.
Even if it means being slapped in the face by John Goodman.
I wonder if I would have pushed back, if he was like that You’re literally going to be kicked by John Goodman. No stunt guy. He’s just going to fuck you out.
I wonder if I would have pushed back then? Probably not. I would be like, all right. If it’s funny.
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