Interview with Malcolm Barrett

We had the opportunity to talk with "Better Off Ted" actor Malcolm Barrett about the show, his music and what the fans can expect from the last two episodes of the show. He shared a funny little anecdote from the set with us and talked about his debut album and about his co-stars Jonathan Slavin and Khandi Alexander.


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1. You are a very versatile artist who works in different genres. From dramas like "The Hurt Locker" or "Law & Order: SVU" to stand-up comedies. What kind of genre do you like most and which one is the easiest for you?

Well, first of all thank you for the compliment. I think if I do come across as versatile itís because I think itís an actor's job, to fit into the role. I do my best to pick things that challenge me and push me to expand my abilities in a different way. 9 times out of 10 I just try and pick the opposite of my last role. I love all forms of art and at the end of the day I just want to tell the most interesting story possible, no matter what the genre may be. I think answering which one is easiest is a difficult question. But I'd have to say all of them... I'm really good at acting. No, but seriously.

2. Apart from your TV roles you also had some commercial jobs. What kind of experiences did you get from that?

The commercial experience was good and bad. Every so often you have to deal with a lot of compromising ethical dilemmas and casual racism but the success paid the bills at what was the lowest point in my adult life financially so there's that. Also, it gave me great confidence and training in developing characters and ad-libbing.

3. "Better off Ted" is going to start in Germany soon, but to you working on the show must seem to be from another life. Do you miss it? Which aspect and which co-star of the show do you miss most?

--JOHNNY! ...Sorry. That was me rushing to say Jonathin Slavin. The cast as a whole had an amazing chemistry with each other. I honestly miss working with the entire cast and crew of B.O.T. every day. It was one of the more fun and creative environments I've ever experienced in television.

4. "Better off Ted" was one of the funniest shows in US television over the last two years and many critics thought the same way. Unfortunately the ratings of the show were never very good. Is it disappointing that a huge part of the viewers does not know the show or are you happy that there are some very loyal and passionate fans?

Well you always hope your best work will reach the largest possible audience but there is an unparalleled appreciation for knowing that most of whomever watched the show, LOVED the show.

5. Phil and Lem have been a congenial team. Did you enjoy working with Jonathan Slavin? You must have had a lot of fun on set in this crazy laboratory and with all these storylines.

Well, as I said before I feel like me and Johnny created some of funniest moments as a duo, propelled by some of the funniest gags written on tv. We had one of the strongest comedic reports I've ever had with another actor. He's a very giving actor and will throw himself at anything. I'm not that giving but I will throw myself at stuff. One of the awesomest parts of the show was the special effects and experiments that I got to be apart of. There was always something like anti-gravity shoes, freezing machines and jetpacks. It was always exciting to read the script and find out what the next wacky experiment was going to be.

6. Can you share a funny little anecdote from working on "Better off Ted"?

Well just between you, me and your readers there was not a particular level of hijinks that ever ensued on set, but there was this one time on the very first day I met Andrea. I was walking past her having a conversation when she interrupted herself with her own fart. That's right, hot young Andrea Anders farted unabashedly. And when I say 'interrupted' I use that loosely because she smoothly transitioned into continuing her story. Gotta love her.

7. In season 2 we got to know Lem's mother Stella. Many viewers might know the actress Khandi Alexander from HBO's "Treme". How was it to work with her? Did you have fun showing a different side of Lem apart from working in the lab?

See I know her from "C.S.I" (one of them) and one of my favorite shows, "NewsRadio" so it was totally awesome having her portray my mother. I even had my real mother (and brother) flown into town to play extras in that episode. If you look closely they're in the background of the dinner scene Phil has with Khandi and Ted. It was awesome to show Lem outside of the lab. The hardest part was picking clothes because we pretty much wear the same thing everyday in the lab. Picturing him at home with a Wham! t-shirt and boxers just seemed weird. My favorite was my over-coat. It made me look very old which was great because the character's older than me so it made me feel very grown and proper man. Exploring Lem's life outside of the lab was awesome because there were so many elusions to his personal life that I imagined a very vivid backstory that was exciting to see come to life.

8. Which one of the crazy research projects at Veridian Dynamics did you like the most? And has there been a certain one that could be more realistic than people might think?

Hands down my favorite experiment was the jetpack because I actually got suspended a couple stories in the air for that one. The cutest experiment was this little clean up robot we created that was sort of our pet and friend, it was basically a rhuumba with a personality. The most realistic experiment was probably in one of the earlier episodes when we created this beef without using cows, essentially meat harvested from beef cells. That's an actual thing the writers read about. Our reasoning in the episode for not going into mass production was also true to life: it was just too expensive to make.

9. There are still two episodes which haven't been aired yet. Can you tell us what the viewers can expect from these two episodes? Will there be a satisfying ending for Lem and the other characters?

In one episode the boys invent a lie detector which expose a secret Linda may be telling about her feelings towards the guys, it also forces Veronica to compete with Ted. Also in the final episode the company creates a useless incentive program which Lem & Phil have seemed to crack. I don't know if the last episode is more of a placeholder than an ending but there is a titlating final moment for Ted & Linda and a bit of walk into the existential sunset for Lem & Phil. As a bonus, it also briefly features one of my songs, aptly titled, Revenge of the Nerds.

10. What lies in your future? Are you going to concentrate more on music and working on stage or is there a new film or TV project coming up that you can tell us about?

Well, I love doing music. I just finished doing an album with a singer friend of mine, Brandon Scott, called Sin City. I rhyme, he sings. Itís Hip-Hop & R&B. Theatre-wise I have an informal production company with my friend Darian Dauchan called DDNMB, we produce new work. Our next project is S.W.A.P. '10, it's the year's biggest events told through SLAM poetry. Oh yeah, Iím also doing Tom Hanksí new movie with Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Bryan Cranston and Pam Grier called "Larry Crowne" coming out in 2011... I guess that's big.

11. Music plays a big part in your life. Is it true that you are working on your debut album? If so what can we expect?

Well, for awhile when I was coming up in Brooklyn my other biggest interests were SLAM poetry and rhyming. I won a lot of battle rap competitions coming up and still battle a lot when I go back home. I recorded with other indie rappers on the scene in NY, JusSounz, JunClassic, but I finished my debut album, ĎThe Backpacker's Guide to the Galaxyí just to see if I could do it on my own. I actually got a song on the final episode called Revenge of the Nerds. The album is all hip-hop. Like the name implies I go all over the place flow-wise and as far as subject matter, all over hip-hop, soul and funk-inspired beats.

12. Are there any artists that might have influenced or inspired you the most?

12. Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Mos Def, Kanye West, Bjork, Peter Sellers, Prince, Michael Jackson, Charlie Chapliin, Salvadore Dali, Douglas Adams....

13. Since myFanbase is an online magazine aboute TV series, do you have a favorite show?

Thatís hard, so many shows were cancelled on American tv this year. "Lost" & "24" were my most recent favorites along with David Tennant's version of "Dr. Who".

Cindy Scholz - myFanbase