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Dermot Mulroney Is in the Middle of a Year of Yes



Dermot Mulroney is the busiest he’s been in a long time. He spent the spring in Sydney filming the highly fan-surveilled Will Gluck rom-com Anyone But You (you know, the one with Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell), while also promoting his role in Scream VI. And this month alone, he’ll be seen as legendary CIA officer Robert Ames in the Showtime miniseries Ghosts of BeirutLeBron James’ basketball coach in the Peacock biopic Shooting Starsand as the rumored president in the Marvel miniseries Secret Invasion.

The actor — whose first big gig was a 1986 episode of Fame alongside his Secret Invasion co-star Don Cheadle — says his full calendar is a deliberate move with a dash of karma. “I’ve tried hard to work a lot, and I’ve been trying more in the last few years than I have in the past,” he says. “Having this many opportunities comes from a confluence of things but a lot of goodwill that I’ve already put into my career and is coming as payback now.”

Zooming from his home in LA, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, Mulroney is rhapsodic about all of his projects, showing no signs of fatigue despite having just returned from a weeklong shoot in Bangkok (on a crime drama by The Fighter writer Paul Tamasy). Mulroney is, however, rocking a buzz cut, a rather shocking look for someone whose tousled locks have been a fixture since the days of My Best Friend’s Wedding. “A director requested this look,” he explains, laughing. “This is the real me, without the crutch of my hair.”

Mulroney recently debuted the ‘do on Instagram, which he joined for the first time at 59 years old, to mark the release of Scream. On that promotional tour, he learned how to hashtag and how to inadvertently set off a PR fire alarm. “It was my first time joining a franchise with a rabid fandom, and the first time I noticed the noise was when I got an email from Paramount, saying, ‘Alert, alert: You’ve spoiled the movie,'” he says, chuckling. “I learned my lesson after that little spanking, so I’ve kept my mouth zipped tight about Marvel — I always divert to talking about how wonderful it was to work with Cheadle again. Maybe somebody can dig up that episode of Fame we did together because it would be really embarrassing for both of us.”

The actor’s subsequent Instagram posts (his first selfie was with his dog, Posie) have been met with an outpouring of love from fans, something that won’t surprise people who have been following the actor since his classic rom-com days. Indeed, it’s impossible to interview Mulroney without his iconic gig as Michael O’Neal — opposite Julia Roberts’ Julianne Potter — coming up, and this time it’s because he never imagined it would be this impactful on his life for this long.

Thirty years later, My Best Friend’s Wedding is still a basis of comparison for so many films, including the one he just shot in Australia. “It’s a return to the rom-coms of before in a very deliberate way,” he says Anyone But You, due out in December, “and it’s also a return for me personally because it revolves around a wedding at the end. Only this time, I’m the dad, of course.”

When Anyone But You was filming this spring, the set was closely monitored by paparazzi and the internet at large — was the extra attention noticeable?

This movie deliberately announced itself as the next coming for rom-coms, and Will [Gluck] and team are shooting for a theatrical release, so that was all part of it. It doesn’t feel like it’s mine to comment on or speculate about, other than to say wouldn’t it be great if there was a huge, popular rom-com playing on the big screen that we could all go to, and laugh and cry together again? It hasn’t happened for that genre in some time. So far you’re right, it seems like there are a lot of eyes on it, and I’m happy to help maintain that.

You mention that your currently stacked film roster is due to a confluence of events, but I’m curious what that business feels like for you?

Things have gotten tighter in the business in the last few years — we have writers in the street now, striking on wages and working conditions, so this [tightness] has been building for a long time. I’m a family man with expenses in one of the highest cost of living cities in the world. It’s a crusher. We make money differently now. But I feel blessed to have these many opportunities, and I suppose people enjoy working with me.

Can you think of a role that has given back to you the most, that feels the most valuable?

Can you write that he just laughed and laughed in response, and then he went on to list everything he’s done? But seriously, every experience of shooting a movie has been so impactful on my life and on the things I remember and value. Maybe an easier question for me to answer would be what surprised me the most, and I would answer that with projects that have lasted over time in a way I wouldn’t have known they would. Principal among them is My Best Friend’s Weddingbut something else that’s been interesting is the way that streaming has brought new audiences to roles I’ve done. New Girl is one example — and that was straight comedy, and I hadn’t been in much like that before. The director of Dirty Grandpa saw me on the show and then put me in that movie.

What surprised you most in joining the Marvel universe, especially in comparison to non-franchise work?

Marvel has this huge digital security interface. It feels like you’re signing into the vault to get your script. This department sends it out to you with this unusual software that you have to figure out how to use, because it doesn’t work anything like, Google-y, that I’m used to. (Laughs.) But also, of course, the sheer scale of the set and the production. I feel like I can’t say much more about filming, but joining the franchise reminds me of Scream, which was an amazing experience in the way it was received by the viewing public. That was the first time, ever, where I had a project with an existing — and rabid — fan base.

And you got to reunite with Courteney Cox all those years after the Friends guest role…

Friends is another one of those jobs to study. I did three episodes in about 2002 and it was a wonderful experience. It was a popular show, I had a blast, and then never heard about those episodes again for 20 years. Then suddenly it hits the streamers and people are going around saying the name of this character [Gavin] that was sort of obscure to me. Courteney might remember it a different way, but when we were making Scream We agreed that those episodes were the most popular of all the Friends episodes. (Laughs.) That’s definitely something she’d agree with. (Laughs.)

What has it been like to interact with fans on Instagram?

There’s been an outpouring of love that feels like it comes out of the blue. I’ve never had that kind of instant feedback, where someone can say right to you, “Hey, that movie was really great.” It’s a new kind of appreciation that I’m experiencing after three and a half decades of work. It’s also kept me a bit of company while I’m on the road, believe it or not. I’m admitting to this a little guiltily, but I do feel like I’ve used it for that in a responsible way.

Mulroney portrays LeBron James' basketball coach in the Peacock biopic Shooting Stars.

Mulroney portrays LeBron James’ basketball coach in the Peacock biopic Shooting Stars.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

You’re in the new LeBron James biopic, so I have to ask if you play basketball.

I never played basketball. I had three brothers who were all four inches taller than me, so it wasn’t meant to be. Plus, basketball and the cello don’t go very well together, what with the jammed fingers. I’ve never seen anything like what we did to film Shooting Stars, with these high schoolers doing the most dazzling sports feats over and over again at speed. Chris Robinson, the director, is this sensei of a man — the way he brought together this cast is a phenomenal story. It’s a moving target to cast a 17-year-old, who’s 6’8”, around your film schedule. They’d been scouting guys for two and a half years, looking at 14-year-olds because they had to be 17 by the time we shot. And they found someone who is the true embodiment of LeBron as a kid.

As someone who is on the receiving end of many people’s fandom and admiration, I want to flip the script and ask what fandom are you a part of?

Dave. I met GaTa in Sydney, we were in the rom-com together, and we became fast friends. I started watching the show after I knew him, and knew about his experiences. The work he’s doing on that show, to expose his feelings as a man of color that you so rarely see, and the way the show gives space to show a window into that character’s life, is so special. He brings his own self to that role in a way that is just staggering. So thank you for asking, because I wanted to plug Dave and GaTa, because he’s such an inspiration to me in the way he conducts himself as a person. He’s an incredible, loving man.

A version of this story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The News84Media magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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