In his new dramedy, the actor plays a disgraced basketball coach who gets ousted from the NCAA, and now has a chance for redemption at an elite private high school for girls
John Stamos calls his Indian trip from seven years ago a “very special” experience. “I went to Rishikesh where the Maharishi’s (Mahesh Yogi) Ashram is. I’d heard so many tales from when The Beatles met him, and my friends, The Beach Boys, told me all about their fascinating concert tour with him. But you know what, we couldn’t find the place! Still, it was an incredible trip and I loved the people there, who had great hearts and lived life to the fullest really.”
“Of course, I had diarrhoea for about a week after the trip, but hey, I still have fond memories,” he adds, laughing.
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It’s incredible to think that Uncle Jesse is now 57 years old. Stamos is still as handsome, still as charming (if not more) as he was during his Full House days. “Call it good genes, I guess?” he grins, as he gets ready to talk about his latest project, the Disney+ dramedy Big Shot, which is produced by David E. Kelly (the creator of Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies, Boston Legal and several other blockbuster dramas).
On the face of it, it seems like a strange call to cast Stamos as Marvyn Korn, a disgraced, disgruntled basketball coach who gets sacked by the NCAA for his anger issues, and has to take on a role at the Westbrook School for Girls where he attempts to steer the teens towards success. Moreover, the actor didn’t know the first thing about playing basketball.
The actor stars as Marvyn Korn, a disgraced basketball coach who gets sacked by the NCAA for his anger issues
“I’d never shot hoops earlier, and I’m just not a sports person at all. I was a band geek back then; I still am,” he laughs. “So when I first got the call for a new David E. Kelley show, I immediately thought I was going to pay a lawyer. Maybe I had a role on Big Little Lies? But when I heard it was about basketball, I was like oh no.”
But Stamos absolutely wanted to work with Kelly, and he persevered, even spending time with American basketball legend Jerry West to learn the fundamentals of the sport. “He took me to a practise, and I called it a rehearsal,” the actor admits sheepishly.
“But then, I really dug into the character, and knew I wanted to pull off the mindset of a coach. I took inspiration from my dad; my mother always used to say he was a lion on the outside, but had the heart of a lamb. Slowly, I got the hang of it.”
Stamos, who has also appeared in other successful shows like ER and Grandfathered, says Big Shot feels like a “show for the times” because of how much it bats for women’s equality in sport. “It reiterates that women are just as good as men, if not better. It focuses on the relationship between the individuals, and shows how this character of a resentful coach lets go of his preconceived notions, and listens and learns from the teenagers he is mentoring.”
“As the show moves on, this loner guy gets closer to the girls he’s coaching, his daughter moves in with him, and their blossoming relationship changes him. Thankfully, none of this is overdone or schmaltzy,” he adds.
The actor is also full of praise for other stars such as Yvette Nicole Brown and Jessalyn Gilsig, who are part of the cast, and calls them “super-pros”. “They just surrounded me with great people with no ego, no drama; level-headed stars who would kill it everyday on set. The teen actors too were amazing, fearless, and worked very hard. From their social media profiles, I also understand that they are youngsters who are very woke and into good causes.”
Stamos with Jessalyn Gilsig in a still from the show
Were they impressed that they were working with Uncle Jesse himself? “Well, they acted very cool about it in the beginning and all, but eventually, it snuck out that they were fans (laughs). They all came to my place once for a socially-distanced screening of a couple of episodes, and were such a hit with my three-year-old!”
However, he is most impressed with Sophia Mitri Schloss, who plays his daughter Emma Korn on the series: “She is one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. She’s just so, so fantastic and incredibly smart.”
Despite the sets shutting down a few times during the pandemic, Stamos is very grateful that they could go back and finish the shooting of Big Shot’s first season. He hated being in quarantine several times though, as it meant being away from his wife and son. “Fatherhood has really changed me, and watching my son become his own person — even at the age of three — is magical. There’s actually a monologue my character Marvyn has in the show, where he explains why being a dad is all about sacrifice. You put aside what you want for the good of your child. You don’t get a banner or trophy for it, but if you do it right, you get a kid who is more loving, more caring, a better version of you. That rings true everyday with my kid.”
What’s next for him? “I’ve had a nice steady career, stayed under the radar and kept working constantly. There are several highlights, working with other great actors and producers, being mentored by Jack Clugman, and getting into theatre on Broadway, and so on. I was fearless then, much like the young teen actors I’ve worked with on Big Shot. Now? Apart from my career, I love fatherhood so much, that I’m looking forward to having a second child with my wife soon.”
The first episode of Big Shot is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar