In ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ Tom Arnold plays a sleazy corrupt businessman for laughs. The 53-year-old comedian and actor spoke to Fox411.com about his long career, working with Perry and what it's like to be sober in the world's most infamous party-loving industry.
Fox411: Before you did this movie had you seen any Tyler Perry movies?
Tom Arnold: No, I hadn’t. Obviously I’ve seen parts, and am very aware of Tyler Perry and what he does but I hadn’t sat down and watched a whole Tyler Perry movie from start to finish until I watched this one last week.
Fox411: Were you happy with it?
TA: With me? Never. With the movie I was very impressed because I didn’t know for sure what the point of view would be. I sensed who Madea was and what she thought about things. I thought it had a lot more to do with being in church for some reason. But Madea’s got quite some back story. She’s done some things and I like that there’s no high horse here. Tyler’s about being as funny as possible. I was really impressed by what he does.
Fox411: Why are you never happy with your performances?
TA: I don’t like looking at myself.
Fox411: You got married a couple of years ago and you’ve been very honest about trying to have children.
TA: We’re still working on it. By next Father’s Day I plan on being a father. I’ve said it before but I have a good feeling.
Fox411: It must be hard.
TA: It’s super hard. I know it’s harder on my wife. But we’re not alone. A lot of people have dealt with fertility issues. Sometimes it takes a bit. There’s also a lot of ways. I feel that spiritually our baby is out there and how that baby gets to us doesn’t matter and there’s a lot of ways, there’s a lot of babies who need homes. However it happens it’ll be good for me.
Fox411: Aren’t you kind of an elder statesman in Hollywood for helping younger actors who have addiction problems?
TA: The misconception about Hollywood is that it’s a crazy drug and alcohol fueled place. It can be but there’s also a huge sober community. People who reach out and help other people all the time and do a hundred times more than I do. There’s a very supportive and loving sober community. Number one for myself I’m a part of it because I have had my issues and nothing helps me more than talking to a younger person who has issues like I’ve had and nothing reminds me more of where I’ll be if I don’t work on them. Also there’s nothing that feels better than when a younger person grabs hold of it.
Fox411: You really are a survivor. A lot of people wrote you off.
TA: I still remember the days immediately after that. Most people said, ‘Oh this guy’s done.’ That was about 18 1/2 years ago. I’m still grateful and still trying my best.
Fox411: Is it hard not to be cynical about the people who wrote you off?
TA: It’s a weird business. I was persona non grata between April and July of 1994 because that’s when everything happened and July is when ‘True Lies’ came out and people who didn’t even know me went from hating me to saying, ‘Oh he might be a pretty nice guy,’ not because they knew me but because I was good in a hit movie. So I’m very careful about friends. I’ve got the same friends I’ve had for pretty much the whole time I’ve lived in Hollywood.
It does make me laugh because people still make comments on Twitter and things like that. Instead of being offended or hurt by it, it makes me laugh. I think there are people who believe once somebody gets you a job in show business you are set and the truth is you have to fight for every job. People opened the doors for me for sure and hopefully I’ve helped open the door for some people but when you’re there it’s on you and you better be ready for it.