Currently starring in 'Blow'
Paul Reubens: A long way from Pee-Wee Herman
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- In the 1980s, Paul Reubens -- as Pee-Wee Herman -- went on a "Big Adventure."
Now the same Paul Reubens has embarked on a big dramatic adventure, playing Derek Foreal, a flamboyant Los Angeles-area hairdresser who becomes a major cocaine trafficker in "Blow."
The role is a far cry from the bow-tied, comically manic Pee Wee. While there are humorous moments in "Blow," the movie is certainly no laughing matter, delving into drugs, money, sex and a spiral into debauchery as cocaine peddling becomes an international business. Along with Reubens, the film stars Johnny Depp as George Jung, a key U.S. link to Colombian drug cartels, and Penelope Cruz as Jung's sultry, demanding wife.
CNN Showbiz Today Reports had a chance to talk with Reubens about "Blow," the ups and downs of his career, and a curious hosting job.
CNN: Describe the atmosphere on set of "Blow." What was it like working with Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and the rest of the cast?
Reubens: It was great because you can cut right to the chase. You're not dealing with these big ego trips: "I'm a bigger star than you" and "Is my trailer the same size?"
I don't have a great deal of experience of working in the dramatic field and this is a particularly heavy piece. I could imagine that working on something like this with other people could have been much more tragic off-camera.
CNN: How do you think "Blow" captures the freewheeling '70s?
Reubens: It has to do with kind of even going past the hippies and ... the flower power. I think it was more kind of like getting away from being low and going into glam.
CNN: You must have enjoyed playing this sort of leader of the fun bunch?
Reubens: It was really fun for me, because I haven't really been the life of the party in a long, long time. When (cutting up) became my profession, I stopped doing it off-camera.
So it was nice to be a guy who liked to make an entrance, have a lot of attention, power and knew everybody. People wanted to emulate him and (the character) was kind of on the cutting edge, followed the fashion trends. It was a ball.
CNN: When I watched the screening, a lot of people in the audience could be heard asking, "Is that Paul Reubens? Is that Pee Wee Herman?" when you first appeared on screen.
Reubens: Really? That's great. I think "Blow" is a different direction in a lot of ways. Because I get to be funny in a drama, but I also have some dramatic moments, which is something I haven't really done a lot of yet. I hope that it's gonna mean people will see something different and I'll be getting different work.
CNN: Speaking of different work, what's the status of you hosting "You Don't Know Jack?" ("You Don't Know Jack," based on the popular CD-ROM and Internet quiz game, is awaiting assignment to a time slot on ABC.)
Reubens: It's in the can, as we like to say here in Hollywood. It's very different from the CD-ROM, because with the CD-ROM you're not locked in, you're sitting there watching, playing something on a computer screen. You're not really interacting. You don't have to cut to a contestant. You don't have to cut to a host, or cut to a screen with a question on it.
It (the television show) is very visual. It's a real game show, with real contestants, playing for real money. On the other hand, I'm playing a character who's hosting it. It has a lot of comedy and variety show elements in it too, so it's kind of a big mishmash of styles. I think it's very funny and original.
CNN: Just the concept of you hosting a game show gets me chuckling.
Reubens: My favorite thing on this particular show was doing something most game show hosts don't get to do: I got to laugh at the contestants if they were wrong. I don't know if the public will think it's funny, but it cracked me up every time.
CNN: You're now back in the limelight, but do you try to maintain some sense of privacy and anonymity?
Reubens: You get in the public eye, then there are just all kinds of issues related to that. For me, I just try to be careful as much as you can. I mean, you can't be obsessed by that or you become Howard Hughes.
So for me that translates to I don't know what the newest cereal is because someone else buys it for me.
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