In ‘Here Comes the Boom,’ Kevin James plays a lovable high school biology teacher who moonlights as a mixed-martial arts fighter in a valiant effort to raise money for extra-curricular activities that are in danger of being axed due to budget cuts. The 47-year-old ‘King of Queens’ star spoke to FOX411 about his latest flick which, by the way, he also co-wrote.
FOX411: Did you ever do any mixed-martial arts in high school?
Kevin James: I did a little karate and I was into sports but I didn’t discover UFC until 1993 and was kind of blown away by how crazy this sport is. Just watching it and meeting the fighters and getting to know them. What really impressed me about them was they’re like these gladiators but they’re regular people when you get to know them and finding the inspiration that they’re fighting for. Some of them are fighting to put food on the table for their kids. They love the sport but it’s got to be something that really drives them to get into an octagon across from another man and risk their lives. So that’s why I chose it as this platform in this movie.
FOX411: Will we see you in the ring now?
KJ: Absolutely not! I am definitely not a fighter like that. I love messing around with it but there’s a difference between being able to yell cut and get out of the scene and really be fighting someone.
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FOX411: When Salma Hayek was suggested as a love interest did you say, ‘She’s not pretty enough?’
KJ: I know! Actually I made that decision. Listen, coming from my whole career I know people are going to be saying, ‘Are you kidding me?’ The problem was this, I worked with Salma a few times and we just have a great chemistry with her. I adore her. Our families get along so well. She’s really funny. When we got her I said, ‘We got to ugly you up somehow because I’ve never met a nurse who looks like that,’ but we weren’t able to do it.
FOX411: And hello! You got to work with the Fonz!
KJ: I’ve always been a fan of ‘Happy Days.’ That was the greatest thing about having him on set. I could ask him every question like, ‘What was Potsie like?’ to, ‘Why did Fonzie start with a brown leather jacket and then go onto a black one?’ I was asking him everything.
FOX411: Did you get in shape?
KJ: I did! And by the way right back out of shape. And I enjoyed getting out of shape again let me tell you. The UFC gave us their blessing in using their name and I promised not to make a mockery of it. I promised not to be chubby guy just walking off the street into the octagon.
FOX411: When they yelled, ‘It’s a wrap,’ did you immediately say, ‘Pass the pepperoni pizza?’
KJ: Absolutely. Once we were done I was all over it. We crushed Italian food. I literally ate for three days straight and that continued on a year and a half since we’ve wrapped and that’s why I look like a sandbar right now.
FOX411: You have a daughter named Shea (after the old Mets stadium). Will your next child be called Citi Field?
KJ: That’s a very good question. I may have to.