Tonight at 8 pm/ET, the hit NBC comedy My Name Is Earl returns for a sophomore run, meaning more misdeeds to be made up for, more harping from Joy, and more esoteric insights from Randy. Ethan Suplee, who plays Earl's brother, called TVGuide.com to offer a look at the changes in store for this season. But first, he had an exchange of words with costar Jamie Pressly, who happened to be passing by in a neighboring car.
Ethan Suplee: [To TVGuide.com] She was just speeding and being chased by the cops. No, I'm kidding. That's not what was happening at all.
TVGuide.com: So, I'm excited for the new season. How do you feel about it?
Suplee: This season is going to kick the crap out of last season. The premise of the show, with Earl trying to right all the bad things he's done in his life, is the same, but now they've made the show a bit more serialized, so there is, for example, a whole Joy arc that will play out over the season. That way it's not so tied up at the end of every episode. And a little bit into the season there's a Randy story that starts and goes on. It's fun.
TVGuide.com: Can you tell me a little about what Randy's story is?
Suplee: Oh, I don't know.... I always get in trouble for saying things to people, you know? I got into so much trouble at the end of last season for blabbing about the special episode [a faux alternate pilot] on the [Season 1] DVD. People called and were like, "You know you're not supposed to talk about that...." Well, thanks for telling me. Let's just say there are hints in the first few episodes, so if anybody really pays attention they'll know what I'm talking about. But people generally don't.
TVGuide.com: Will it be an episode that has nothing to do with Earl, or just more focused on you?
Suplee: In the second or third episode I say one line that is completely out of left field, and which will then start me down that road [toward Randy's story line]. It has nothing to do with anything.
TVGuide.com: As opposed to all of Randy's other lines.
Suplee: Yeah, they are all kind of random, but this one even more so. It's [such a] non sequitur that if anyone's watching and they pay attention to this interview, they'll know what's going on. But other than that, I'm trying to be really vague [about what's coming up].
TVGuide.com: What part of Randy is you, and what part of him is written?
Suplee: I hope that Randy's sweetness is me. I can also be a tyrant and, I swear, a real asshole, but I hope that that [sweetness] is what I've brought to the character. In the first draft of the pilot, he was talking to Patty the Daytime Hooker about whether she "had any sex left in her tank" for him, and I don't know if that's necessarily something Randy would say now. Hopefully I'm not as dim as he is, but I'm sure there are some who would say that that is what I bring to the character.
TVGuide.com: Do you have a list of your own?
Suplee: I haven't sat down and made a list of my own, but I absolutely feel there are people I have done things to who I could apologize to, or make up for the damage done to. We were all young once. I'm not actively out there trying to make up for things I've done, but I am actively out there trying to be a better person than I was.
TVGuide.com: That's admirable.
Suplee: Yeah. I never killed anybody or anything, but I certainly had my nightmarish adolescence.
TVGuide.com: Should we, as the audience, feel bad for Randy, or is he totally happy with his life alongside Earl?
Suplee: Oh, he's the happiest guy in town. You can't feel bad for Randy. He doesn't want [his own life]. I think Randy would be lost without Earl. He would get bored. Randy could have an interesting life, too, off on his own, but I think the adventure for him is Earl getting him into trouble, out of trouble.... It's all a big game when you're hanging out with Earl.
TVGuide.com: Does Randy really have a thing for Catalina?
Suplee: Absolutely. He loves Catalina, I think. Or, he lusts after her.
TVGuide.com: Is anything ever going to develop there?
Suplee: I don't know. Maybe you'll just have to tune in for that....
TVGuide.com: Have you ever stayed in a motel as bad as Randy and Earl's?
Suplee: Yes, I have.
TVGuide.com: I stayed in one like it this summer and really, that's what got us through it: "Let's just pretend we're Earl and Randy."
Suplee: Yeah, we do just fine in that motel. I couldn't [stay in one like that myself], though. Even a decent Motel 6 is better than the motel we live in.
TVGuide.com: Are they going to stay there?
Suplee: Until Earl wins the lottery again. Where could we go? How long could 100 grand really last if we decided to live the suite life? We're very frugal. We pay, like, $29 a month for rent. And eat a lot of ramen.
TVGuide.com: The scenes at the end of every episode are those scripted?
Suplee: There is very rarely any improv or ad-lib. We have the best writers in television, and they really work on fine-tuning the dialogue. When it gets to us, literally maybe one word will change, or we'll have the idea to add a word, but there's never, like, an improv scene.
TVGuide.com: It just feels very natural.
Suplee: Yeah, because we're "professional actors." That's why they pay us. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Any guest stars we should look forward to?
Suplee: We're working with Roseanne Barr this week. Last week, we worked with the amazing Amy Sedaris. Giovanni Ribisi came back. We had Burt Reynolds on. You couldn't dream of better guest stars. It's pretty wild.
TVGuide.com: Who's been your favorite so far?
Suplee: Dax Shepard, because he's one of my closest friends. After him, Amy Sedaris. The whole crew kind of fell in love with her. We've never had a reaction to somebody quite like how they reacted to her. If she worked at it, she couldn't be more likable.
TVGuide.com: Did she bring her bunny?
Suplee: She didn't bring her bunny, but she talked quite extensively about her bunny.
TVGuide.com: What did you do with your hiatus?
Suplee: Right when we stopped [filming Season 1], I went to Africa, where a buddy of mine was shooting a movie [The Blood Diamond]. We went on safari, and I thought of myself as a photojournalist, so I took all these great pictures of his set, all this fighting and war stuff. When I got back, I e-mailed some pictures to people on the crew and they were like, "What the f--k?! What country were you in?!" It'd be a picture of a lion, then cut to a picture of a dude with an AK-47 and dead bodies in the background. [Laughs] I showed my kids: "This is what Africa was like!"
For a first look at Burt Reynolds' Earl visit, pick up the Sept. 25 issue of TV Guide.
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