Ian Gomez is the kind of actor who you’ve seen somewhere – everywhere really – but maybe don’t know his name. Well, he’s the guy who played Larry on ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ Javier on ‘Felicity’ and John Stamos’s best friend on ‘Jake In Progress.’ He’s also appeared in several films starring his wife, Nia Vardalos, including ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and last year’s ‘My Life in Ruins.’
Now a regular on ABC’s breakout comedy ‘Cougar Town,’ Gomez is on his biggest TV hit yet. He had just finished a table reading for an upcoming episode and was on his way to a photo shoot when he called to chat about tonight’s episode which reunites Courtney Cox, the show’s star and producer, with her ‘Friends’ co-star Lisa Kudrow.
Did the cast feel a little left out when Lisa Kudrow was on the set because Monica and Phoebe from Friends were back together?
We’re all pretty comfortable in our friendships by now. It was kind of cool to see them work together, nice to see that kind of reunion. They are playing completely different characters now so it’s a little funny and weird to see that they aren’t Phoebe and Monica. Oh yeah, they are actresses!
Okay, let’s dish about Courtney. Is she really as nice as everyone says she is?
I have nothing horrible to say – I wish I did! I wish I had some dirt. She’s really cool and she wants to keep everything fun and loose. We shoot in Culver City and there’s lots of bars and restaurants and we’ll have a little wine or beer at lunch – she’ll have a glass of wine – and there’s no, “You can’t have a glass of wine in front of the producer!”
How do you like acting opposite her?
She’s playful, she tries different stuff. For some reason, I feel I have to get every take completely correct. I keep thinking it’s a live performance. She’ll stop and start, she’s very loose. She’s a pro, she really knows what she’s doing. I’m learning from her which is always great to do. Forty-five years old and still learning!
You play a married man who is neighbors with Courtney’s character and your wife is played by Christa Miller who you co-starred with on The Drew Carey Show. How’s that going?
I’m having a great time playing the henpecked husband. My character is married to a very strong woman, she’s the one who wears the pants. But the twist is they’re still a sexy couple. [Christa] and I know how the other likes to work and I know how to make her laugh and how to get her a little pissed off. We push each others buttons in a fun way. There wasn’t a period of getting to know you, we got right into it.
What’s it like to be on on this hot new show? It’s not easy for comedies these days to break through.
Because it was with Courtney Cox, I was hoping it was going to go well and get picked up and do well. The fact that we’re on a brand new night of comedy on ABC, I figured they’d give us more of a shot and that we’d have a chance to let people know what we’re about. People seem to be digging it and I’m so happy for that.
You’ve been on a lot of shows over the years but people remember you best from ‘Felicity.’ Your character of Javier was gay so who would he have picked – Ben or Noel? God knows Felicity had trouble choosing!
I’d have to say Ben. He was the moody, sexy guy and Noel was more the safe person, the cute boy next door. Ben was a lot more dangerous and I think that was more appealing to some people. But you could start a fistfight over this question of Ben or Noel.
Javier was pretty out there with his sexuality and his thick accent and seemed maybe a little ahead of his time for a television character.
Yeah, there was a wedding, he got married, there was kissing. It was a real relationship, it wasn’t a sitcom relationship. Kudos to the writers for that and I really enjoyed playing that. The character was very broad on a show that had all these kids in college with all this angst and having these heartfelt moments. So it was nice that Javier had a real relationship.
Were you afraid of being typecast after the show ended?
There were a lot of auditions for the same character, just with a different name. I didn’t really sweat it. I always kind of had the feeling that I’m a character actor and I’ll always work. I don’t need to be a tremendous star, I just want to be a working actor. I usually get cast as the best friend or the neighbor. I guess that’s where my bread and butter will be.
But you sure had a different kind of role in your wife’s recent movie ‘My Life In Ruins.’ Your hotel clerk character was such a rude pig!
[Laughs] Our scene was shot on the first day of shooting. It was just the two of us and we were making each other laugh. She always writes a few things with me in mind and i was so psyched to play that part. Hopefully she’ll pop up on Cougar Town. That’s always a possibility.
You two have a four-year-old daughter now. It must be nice to be raising her at a time when the ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ madness is in the past.
That was a great time but it happened really fast and that’s the only thing I regret. [Nia] was going all over the country doing all these shows and interviews. She didn’t really have a minute to stop and enjoy it until it was over. It never really went back to normal the way it was before. There’s a new normal that’s about being parents. This Hollywood stuff, for us, is kind of bizarre. You get used to what you have to deal with.
Before I let you go, let’s talk about your days in Second City with Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Did you think, ‘These guys will never get anywhere!”?
We all got hired at the same time as Chris Farley. I think we all knew Chris was gonna go far, he just had something special and it wasn’t something he tried at. He had this natural ability and level of commitment and people loved to watch him. Carell and Colbert were always head-scratchers to me because they never came across [in other mediums] as fantastic as they were on Second City. They were great. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like they were discovered overnight. But it wasn’t overnight. It was like, finally! They are the same people, in style, as they were in Second City. Not much has changed. They had to wait for other people to kind of catch up with what they were doing and finally give them a shot.