Law & Order star Anthony Anderson is returning to the small screen in Guys with Kids, a new comedy premiering September 26 from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Jimmy Fallon about three 30-something dads who try to hold on to their youth as they face the responsibilities of having kids.
Anthony opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about his two children – daughter Kyra, 16, and son Nathan, 12 – and how his parenting style parallels his character, and his hopes that people will watch Guys with Kids “in fellowship as a family.”
CBS: How does your own parenting style compare to Gary’s?
AA: “You know what? It’s pretty much the same. I get to re-live vicariously through Gary some of the things that I couldn’t do with my kids because I didn’t know how they would turn out if I raised them the way that I was raised.
Even before we shot the pilot, we had talks early on about my experience growing up with my mother and my father. We shot an episode featuring what every parent goes through—the “I want to raise you differently than how my father raised me” dynamic.
Not to say that our father raised us bad, it’s just a different time, a different era, and we have different sensibilities. I get to have fun with Gary and my four boys on the show, just like I have fun at home. I’m the only father in the cast, so I get to tell the guys what I’m going through and just have some fun with it. You know, that’s what it’s about. I think that’s going to resonate with the audience and show onscreen.”
CBS: How do you relate to the dads in the series?
AA: “I relate to all of them. One, because it’s a slice of life. I have friends who are recently divorced. I have friends who are stay-at-home dads. I have friends who are happily married and raising their family with their wives. So, I see a bit of my world in the world that we’re creating on television, and we can all pick and choose from that.”
CBS: Tell us about your son Nathan and daughter Kyra. How old are they, and what do they do for fun?
AA: “My daughter is sixteen-years-old and is a Junior in high school. She plays volleyball and has a boyfriend that I have to deal with now [laughs]. He happens to be the quarterback of the football team and my daughter happens to be one of the stars of the volleyball team, so it’s kind of cool that they both are athletic and the stars of their teams.
My son is twelve-years-old and when I tell you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, truer words have never been spoken [laughs]. I just took him on an audition yesterday. Four or five years ago, he pointed to my wife and said, ‘Mom, I want to be an actor.’ He’s actually pretty good at it. He’s been studying acting for the last four years and really enjoys going out on auditions. He’s come close on a few things, and one day he’ll get a job. We had a long talk the other day and I said, ‘You just have to work for it and eventually the chips will fall in your favor.'”
CBS: What do you like most about fatherhood? Any special fatherhood memories to share?
AA: “I have two. First, having my children there is the crowning achievement in my life. It actually makes me feel invincible and like I can live forever.
The second best thing about fatherhood has to do with my son. I host a monthly comedy show at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York, and I invited my son to perform there at eight-years-old. He got up and there was neither fear nor trepidation, and he was funny. That was the most memorable thing that I have to date as a father with my son, watching him onstage, alone, tell “Your Mama” jokes on Father’s Day, and watching the audience respond favorably to him. That is the most memorable time that I can think of outside of watching him come into this world.”
CBS: What did you do as a family this summer? Any fun vacations or road trips?
AA: “No fun road trips or vacations this summer. There were volleyball trips for my daughter with her traveling team, a couple of trips to the beach, and a couple of trips to theme parks. My kids like simple stuff. They don’t care for traveling unless we’re going overseas or to Hawaii. I said to them, ‘Look, until you guys get a job and pull your weight, we’re going to cut back on some of that stuff.’
This summer consisted of a lot of family barbecues at the house with my immediate family and my kids’ friends. We had a lot of intimate time at home by the pool and at dinner.”
CBS: What else is up next for you?
AA: “No, nothing else really. Hopefully, we can crank out another 107 episodes of Guys with Kids. That’s my whole plan, to devote myself to making it the best show possible and having a great run with it. Also, just living the good life.
CBS: What was it like working with so many kids running around the set? Is it kind of hectic?
AA: “I’ve told every reporter who asked that question, ‘The kids are the real stars to this show.’ The magic happens with them, and we’re kind of handcuffed and forced to go where they lead us. That’s where we have a lot of the fun during these episodes.”
CBS: How was it playing the role of stay-at-home parent? Was it something that you naturally fell into, or was it something that you always wanted to do in your personal life, as well?
AA: “You know what, working as hard as I have been in this industry for the last 16 years, I would welcome falling into the role of the stay-at-home dad. I get the comforts of home…I get to raise my kids, get to have fun with them, and watch them grow. So, yes, that was a natural thing.”
CBS: Do you have any acting advice for your children?
AA: “In regard to my advice for the industry and life in general, I tell them that we, the Andersons, aren’t quitters. We finish what we start, no matter what it is. At one point, my daughter wanted to give up on volleyball early on when she first started and I said to her, ‘Sweetheart, this is what you chose to do, it’s the middle of the season, and we are not about to quit. Now, if you want to stop at the end of the season, then that’s your choice, but we’re going to ride this out.’
The same with my son in everything that we do. I remind him that we put in the work because you get out of it what you put into it. That’s the philosophy that, you know, I live my life by and that I try to lead by example with my children.
CBS: Dads are more involved with raising their kids than ever before. How has your experience been in your own home?
AA: “It’s crazy. There was a study on a news program that I was watching before we even shot the pilot, and they were talking about how stay-at-home dads are on the increase. There are more fathers in the Mommy and Me classes than ever before. There are more fathers who are making play dates than the mothers than ever before. A lot of people look at them and wonder, how could you send your wife off to work while you sit at home with your kids and be lazy, when, you know, it’s unquantifiable what a stay-at-home parent does? It’s only looked upon negatively when you say “stay-at-home dad.” Why can’t this husband and this father empower his wife and support her for going out and making a career, while he stays at home to raise the children?
I think that’s very admiral, for any parent to do, but more so than not, a father. I just think it’s a great thing. Since I’ve been working with these children on the show and getting into my character, it’s actually made me want to be a better father. It makes me want to have a better connection with my children at home, because all my children have known from me is that I am on location. They were born into my career, so that’s all they know. That’s all they see…me on a plane and them on a plane, going to exotic locations, working, and having fun. But now that I’m doing this show, I can look at my son who’s 12 and look at my daughter who’s 16 and realize that I’ve missed out on a lot.
Doing the show makes me want to stay home. I no longer take, you know, the weekend golf trips or whatnot. I’ve realized that I want to stay at home this weekend and just hang out with my kids, even if we don’t do anything but sit by the pool. It’s made me want to have a stronger connection to them.”
CBS: Would you ever consider bringing your son on the show?
AA: “I’m pretty sure if something ever came about, I would definitely have him audition for it because this is something that he wants to do, and I support him. I tried to convince him otherwise, and he’s really put in the work and really stayed on us about getting him into a class. This is what he really wants to do with his life.
So, if the opportunity does present itself on Guys with Kids, or any other show out there, yes. I would love it.”
CBS: What do you want the audience to take from the show?
AA: “I grew up in a point in time watching Cosby and watching other shows where we got together as a family and sat in front of the television. We watched these shows in fellowship as a family. Some of these shows had messages that you could take and impart to your family. That’s what I want people to take away from this… just to sit back. The way we watch television now, especially with me, having a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old, things are just so fragmented now. My daughter’s off with her volleyball schedule and her friends and my son is off playing his video games and being online with his friends. I think this is a show that, you know, will and can bring the family back together for at least a half hour after dinner, which is what we used to do when we watched television growing up.
That’s what I hope people take away from this. It sounds kind of cliché and corny and hokey-dokey, but the show’s purpose is to bring the family back together again. That’s what I hope for.
CBS: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned as a father so far?
AA: “I’ve already learned from my mistakes as a parent, so what I’m taking away from the show is just to spend more time with my kids. I’m learning how to carve time out of my professional life and my individual personal time to spend more time with my family — my wife and my kids.”