NYCC | 30 Rock’s Grizz Chapman On His Career & His Boo Liz Lemon
Grizz Chapman is big on TV. Literally. The comedic actor is not only a cast member of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, on which he plays one-half of Tracy Morgan’s entourage, but he’s also a seven-foot-tall former bodyguard who towers over his co-stars.
At New York Comic Con, Grizz took time to talk with Spinoff Online about his hopes for the show’s final season, his work with the National Kidney Foundation, what the future holds for his career and more.
Spinoff Online: So, Grizz, what can we expect to see happen to your character in 30 Rock this season?
Grizz Chapman: Hopefully, me and my boo Liz Lemon will finally get together!
Your character’s history with Liz Lemon is definitely one of the funniest backstories on the show.
She threw me down on the couch and took advantage of me and then threw me out like old garbage. Hopefully this year I’ll get a shot at the title again. Even though I’m married, hopefully they’ll show some backstory on it. Show me and her exchanging a little hand connection in the hallway or something.
Who came up with the idea to pair the two of you up like that?
The writers are genius, and if they see any opportunity to make funny, they’ll do it. It would only make sense, a guy my size and a little lady from the office with the glasses. It makes sense.
You’re good friends with Tracy Morgan. Did that relationship help you land your role on 30 Rock?
Yes, but that’s not how I got the gig. I worked hard to get the part, and a lot of people think that because Tracy and me are friends, I automatically got the part. What I can say is that Tracy was an integral part in me keeping my job because there were four members of the entourage originally, but NBC came to Tina Fey and Tracy and said they couldn’t pay for all four. So Tracy said we’re gonna keep just two guys, which included me. I made the cut. I worked hard to get there. I worked really hard.
You performed as a wrestler in Korea years ago. How did that opportunity come about?
That was a friend of mine. He had asked me if I’d be willing to wrestle. and I took on the challenge. I said, ‘These guys are little, they can’t beat me.’ I made my first mistake by not doing research on what I was about to get myself in to. Secondly, the night before, they gave us this big meal. Everybody was eating and drinking and having fun and just chilling. Next day the event comes and I’m standing there and one of the guys puts his feet in the stand and is stable. I thought I’d just toss him on his neck easily. It was not easy. Those guys work out very hard, 365 days a year. They travel the world and that’s what they do. That’s their profession and I could never take that away from them. I definitely got whooped on. We lost. That was a fun competition between the wrestlers and ex-bodyguards, security guys and football players. Our side lost, all of us.
Recently, you’ve ventured even further in to comedy with your ‘Grizz Chronicles’ shorts. What’s the story behind the making of these short films?
“Grizz Chronicles” came up when I was taking improv classes. The kids in my class asked me if I’d be willing to do a sketch. I told them I wasn’t really into the stupid college-kid stuff, but if it’s funny let’s do it. The first one was “Trust Fails.” Hilarious. It was thrown together but it was absolutely hilarious, and the kids did a wonderful job. That’s how “Grizz Chronicles” came about. Then we started taking over the holidays. We took over Christmas and made it Grizzmas.
Those guys were great and we just pitched a show together that I can’t really disclose the network, but those guys were a real integral part of pitching that show. It’s a network show. Hopefully if you get an opportunity to do something like that, just go for it and don’t be afraid.
You’ve done some charity work as well, right?
I work for the National Kidney Foundation. It came about because I had kidney disease myself and I had just recently gotten a kidney transplant. I thought I could take my fame and bring attention to kidney disease.
Your character Grizz is a huge Game of Thrones fan. Is the real Grizz a huge fan, too?
Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. That’s my all-time favorite show. I’m just mad that it’s taking three years for the winter to come. It makes no sense. Every year I’m sitting in front of my TV for 12 episodes and winter does not come. Where’s winter? It doesn’t make sense. Hopefully, winter will come in the next couple seasons or something. We’ll see what happens. I’m a big buff of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, too.
You have your own production company, Dyman Enterprises. How does Dyman Enterprises fit in with everything else you have going on right now?
Dyman Enterprises was put together to give people a chance to express themselves. A lot of the time, people just want someone to listen to them and not necessarily help them out or make a way for them. However, I try to give people opportunities if I can and point them in the right direction. If we both make some money in the process, fine. But if I can just give you feedback and you take it and make your project better with that, I’m all for it.
So, it’s not just a music label then?
It’s a little bit of everything. We do modeling, we do production, we do film. We do a little bit of everything.
30 Rock is ending after the current season. What’s next in the pipeline for Grizz?
I just did a few movies. I did a movie called Home and a movie called Lucky Numbers with Method Man. I’m shooting a movie called Hypebeast this weekend, actually. I got a few things coming up and I’d also like to stay in TV and stay in comedy. Definitely I’m gonna stay in comedy, but if the right role comes up, I’ll take it.
Originally, you started out as a bodyguard. How did that lead to your current success in acting?
I was introduced to this through being a bodyguard, and I was put in a position where I did my first national commercial with Brett Favre. I made $20,000 for 40 minutes of work, so I thought I was in the wrong business at that point and I needed to change. When I first changed, I changed for the money, not necessarily for the craft. Once I got into acting, I realized it’s more than just standing there. There’s more to it. So I took some acting classes and developed the craft and fell in love with it. Now here we are. I’m Grizz from 30 Rock for seven years and I’m venturing out to do different types of roles, as well.
What’s your favorite moment from seven seasons of 30 Rock so far?
My absolute favorite moment and favorite episode? Well, I have two. My favorite moment is the very first episode I was introduced as a character on 30 Rock. That was definitely a highlight in my career. Secondly, it would have to be the “Midnight Train to Georgia” scene where we got an opportunity to showcase our other talents. We got to sing and dance. That was actually us singing. We went in the studio and cut that. It wasn’t nobody else. It wasn’t dubbed. It was us. We sung that. I got my doo-wop and my two-step on and we had a blast.
Finally, do you have anything to say to all your fans out there?
Definitely reach out to me. Grizz Chapman on Facebook, Grizz30Rock on Instagram and Twitter. And I’d definitely like to say, don’t be afraid to approach me in the street. I’m here. I’m willing to talk if you need anything.
For all you producers out there, I’m willing and ready to work. Let’s go. Let’s get it.
30 Rock airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.