Ballers' Rob Corddry on Diversity in Hollywood: "We Have a Long Way to Go"

Rob Corddry
Rob Corddry
HBO

On HBO's Ballers, comedian Rob Corddry of Hot Tub Time Machine fame performs alongside one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The series, which is wrapping up its third season this month, has been renewed for next year, the network announced in August.

The Mark Wahlberg–produced macho comedy is about a pair of pro sports money managers in Miami — Johnson's Spencer Strasmore is a former NFL player and Corddry's Joe Krutel is his partner at a finance firm — who this season strive to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.

Yes, it's ripped from the headlines. Yes, it's a boys' show — it can feel at times like the television equivalent of the supercar, sports and pinup posters on a teen's wall. Despite its depiction of women as collectibles and pro sports as a vacuous, drug-fueled party, however, the series reflects upmarket diversity in a way that almost puts Hollywood and its intractable minority problem to shame. The show is a winner — it's one of HBO's most popular programs — and it has reportedly seen a huge increase in viewers this year.

Here's what Corddry had to say in a recent chat with L.A. Weekly:

What's it like to work with one of the biggest movie stars ever?

It definitely humanizes what a top-three star in the world is. It's a rarefied thing. The media gives us this idea that it's royalty on another plane. But Ballers just humanized it for me. He's a pretty easy-going guy.

(Jokingly) Will the Raiders ever move to Las Vegas?

Art imitates life. They were having to write and rewrite with every article that came out about that deal. We were shooting at go time. It was crazy.

How much of the show is shot in L.A.?

We shoot almost entirely in L.A. now. I don't now whether they have plans to move the characters from Miami to L.A.

How is Los Angeles made to look like Miami?

There was a lot of shooting on the beach, and a lot of green screen. Marina del Rey is used a lot. Any place with a lot of boats. We shoot a lot in Santa Monica. The nicer hotels down there are frequent locations. We even shot at that nice hotel in Pasadena.

What can Hollywood learn from the diversity presented on Ballers?

(Jokingly) I'm the only white guy on the show! Hollywood has a diversity problem because maybe a large part of
the country has a diversity problem. It reflects that.

TV and movie culture can sometimes sway public culture. It's a responsibility of people of power in this business to consciously create diverse shows and characters for the good of the country. Especially these days. We just realized there are still Nazis around! We're not as advanced as we thought we were.

We have a long way to go. Hollywood moves very slowly. But there is an effort, at least on my part and on the part of everybody else I know who creates and casts. Hollywood tends to think it's just a window into America. The media doesn't necessarily reflect the culture as it should. It needs to create images the culture can reflect upon.

How much life does Ballers have left? Isn't Dwayne Johnson busy making blockbusters?

I believe it is all up to Dwayne. HBO is pretty hands off. Pretty cool. Do it as long as you want to.

How involved is Mark Wahlberg?

He says, "Bobby" — he calls me Bobby 'cause he's from Boston — "you've got to get Dwayne to do seven more seasons of this show." I said, "That's your job!"  We're trying to incentivize him to keep it going.

There's a production role in this business where they shepherd in a project. He had such a close relationship with Steve [Stephen] Levinson, the show's creator. Having Mark on his side made them impenetrable. The first season Mark was at the first table read. I did a commercial with him a couple months ago and he seemed very invested in the show.

Anything else you want to add?

Black lives matter.

Dwayne Johnson and Rob Corddry
Dwayne Johnson and Rob Corddry
HBO

Ballers airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO. hbo.com/ballers.


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