Impastor’s second season is already proving to be even more outrageous than the first. Buddy Dobbs, played by Michael Rosenbaum, wasn’t going to kill the elderly woman who blackmailed him into sex, but his standard hiccup cure scared her to death. There’s even more on the way as Buddy tries to maintain his cover as a gay priest.
I spoke with Michael Rosenbaum by phone last week. After a press tour in New York, he took a week off to go to an adult summer camp, which is exactly the same as the sleepaway camp you went to as a kid, only you get to play all those games and activities as a grownup, with alcohol. Impastor airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 on TV Land.
Did coming back for season two of Impastor feel like hitting the ground running, picking up right where you left off?
Michael Rosenbaum: I think that we were all excited about a season two but we also knew that was going to be a more ambitious season. They threw a little more money into it. We were going to be on location more which meant we weren’t going to shoot everything in the pastor’s house or the church but we were always doing different things. They were bringing on a lot of guest characters, really expanding that little world. So it was a challenge but I think we were all excited. We had done those characters for a year, so we were getting warmed up and now we were like okay, we just want to fly now. In fact, one of the producers, Rob Greenberg, said, “You guys just seem more loose on camera. Looking at dailies it seems like you’re loose.” I felt like that. I felt like once you get a season under your belt, you open up a little more. You take some more risks and have a little more fun with it.
How did you expect audiences to respond when you try to scare the hiccups out of the old woman and she dies?
Michal Rosenbaum: I think it’s one of those reactions where it’s like oh my God, that just didn’t happen. He didn’t just kill her by scaring her. I think the show does so many things. It can be ridiculous at times. It can shock you at times, touch you at times but that’s definitely one moment. Like last season, there was a pubic hair scene that I just really loved. The president of the church loses his dog and I do a prayer. I didn’t have a hair from the dog so I pulled out a pubic hair. It was just ridiculous but that’s what the show is. You get a variety of things. You never know what to expect.
Every time Buddy comes up with a new lie, does it give you a new aspect of the character to play?
Michael Rosenbaum: Yeah, it’s amazing because I didn’t think he had a conscious really before he came to this town and I’m not sure he has one yet. But there’s these nuances throughout the shows that every once in a while, somebody does something and he reacts maybe a little differently than he normally would because I think he’s starting to care about these characters. As much as he hates Alden Schmidt the president, he thinks he’s a wacko, he sees the guy does have a heart somewhere. It’s like Archie Bunker. Or like Dora, he sees that there is good in the world. He still has to do the con. He has to keep the con going and he’s in too deep so he’s got to lie. I think sometimes he’s surprised by how bad the lies are or how he got out of certain things but I think that’s just Buddy. He gets by with his charm. Sometimes it’s inadvertent. I think he’s like, “I’m dead” and someone takes it a different way or something happens, divine intervention if you call it but I’m not sure Buddy is at the place in his life where he really believes in God but who knows?
As a producer on Impastor, have you been gratified to see some of the other characters get more to do?
Michael Rosenbaum: Oh yeah, yeah. As Michael Rosenbaum it’s nice that there’s other storylines going on. It reduces the workload. First as an actor, it’s nice to involve other actors, other characters, other storylines, that’s nice. But also as a producer, that was one of the things I said. It’s like, we’ve got to stay in this world. To make it more interesting, we’ve got to bring cool guest characters like this actress Saidah [Arrika Ekulona) who plays Sheriff Rashida and she’s fantastic. Getting good character actors, the casting directors really do a good job of finding these people who are characters. Also what I like about the show is we’re not a bunch of stars. We’re not a bunch of actors that people really know that well, like, “Oh yeah, he was this guy and she was this guy.” What I like is it’s sort of the little show that can. When people watch it, they really like it. We don’t need to stunt cast big names, at least not yet. Who knows? As a producer, it’s fun. Again, it’s a lot of work. It’s more ambitious and every night after I’m finished filming, I go back to my apartment and I have to watch all the audition tapes and [read] all the e-mails and take care of business for a while, but I really love it. I wanted to. I didn’t want to just be a producer by title. I said, “Listen, if you’re going to have me on as a producer, I want to be an integral part of this and help make decisions and help with the edits and castings.” And it’s been great. I’ve got to say it’s been a real team effort so it’s awesome.
I love all the voiceover jokes. Like Buddy says, “I’m going to go study these documents” and the voiceover says what he’s really going to do and it’s something dirty. Do you try different voiceovers out for those jokes?
Michael Rosenbaum: Oh yeah. It’s funny because Chris [Vane] and I will have a temp line which may very well be the line that we use, but when we get into the recording, we do ADR. At the end of the season I go to the studio, we sit there and go, “You know what? This isn’t funny enough. Or maybe it’s not the line that’s not funny. Maybe it’s the inflection on something or maybe we should whisper this line.” “You know what, I’m going to go up and read. AKA whack off.” or whatever. So I think it’s fun to play with things and Chris is very open to me improvising. If it’s funnier, we use it. That’s our standard. This is our law. If it’s funnier it goes in. Sometimes it’s funnier but it’s just too dirty or too over the top, so occasionally you’ll get those that don’t make the cut but we always make the joke, Chris goes, “All right, do a Rosenbaum.” So I’ll do one as written and then I’ll do one that’s a little crazier and loose and improvised. Sometimes we use them, sometimes we don’t.
What’s an example of something that’s too dirty even for Impastor?
Michael Rosenbaum: Oh, in the first season, I must’ve shown my ass at leas four or five times. None of those were written. There was one time when I think my junk came out. I didn’t mean for it too, but we obviously couldn’t use the junk but it was hilarious. I was like, “You just have to blur it. Blur it on the screen. It’ll be hilarious.” I’m always trying to get those things into the show. Sometimes we say things that are just a little bit too dark. We get a little bit risque, a little more than normal. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t make it.
What crazy stuff is coming up the rest of the season on Impastor?
Michael Rosenbaum: Without giving too much away, there’s more murder. There’s a lot of creepy, weird characters that come in and there’s a little dominatrix coming up, some murders, some gambling, some jerking off. Let’s call it masturbation for the kids. There’s just a lot of fun stuff. You know what’s fun? We always try to make it seem like it’s not too implausible. We don’t want to throw things in there for shock value, but I think Buddy’s always thinking on his toes trying to come up with stuff. I think that’s the way we think a lot too. Hey, what can he do that’s ridiculous but makes sense because this character would just do anything to get out of trouble? What crap can he get himself into today? So there’s a lot of good stuff coming up. They put more money [in it]. The episode are bigger. I’m really proud of it. I always say you’ve got to push the envelope in season two. I think we did. I think the shows get better and better. It’s hard to top the pilot from season one. Even coming at the end of season one, when the detectives are at the door, it’s like okay, what’s going to happen? I think that was a pretty good first episode but they definitely, I feel, get better and better.
Now that you’re in season two of Impastor and especially since you have hair again, do you find yourself getting recognized more as Buddy from Impastor than anything else you’ve done?
Michael Rosenbaum: That’s a good question. I was just saying this when I was in New York. People weren’t just coming up for Smallville or other things. They were coming up saying, “Hey, you’re that Impastor dude, right?” Or, “You’re that bad priest.” I noticed it was a lot. I was in a sporting goods store and these girls are whispering, they started taking pictures and other people came over. I was saying, “This is cool. People are recognizing Impastor.” Smallville was such a big show. Superman, that genre, the superhero genre is so huge and universal. You already have a built-in audience. You knew people were going to watch. With something like this which is really a passion project and something that’s fun and that’s different but it’s on a smaller network that’s growing, trying to become a little edgier. I think they’re doing a good job of that and it doesn’t happen overnight. They really took a chance with Impastor. What I’ve gathered, truthfully, and believe me, if I was doing a bad show and I’ve done many of them, bad movies, I just wouldn’t tell people to watch it as much. I’m pretty passionate about this and I would say that once people do give it a shot, they’re hooked. It’s just getting those people directed towards TV Land and watch it, not assuming TV Land shows just reruns of old TV shows that I used to watch. It’s actually newer, more interesting, edgier content. It’s like AMC. I always use that analogy. They were showing movies, old movies and now they have Walking Dead and all these new shows. That’s the real trick. It’s getting people there, getting people to watch and then they get hooked because I know that TV Land loves the show. I know that we all love it. The fans do once they tune in. It’s up to you, really. You have to get them to watch. I’m putting it all on you.
I accept that, but I was going to say, hasn’t that changed? Once AMC did original shows, now people understand any channel can do original shows?
Michael Rosenbaum: Yeah, it’s a good thing and bad thing. The good thing is there’s more jobs for actors. The industry is just booming with different outlets to be creative, but on the other hand, where you only had a handful of networks in the beginning where everybody saw your show if it was on TV, now there’s so many great shows. Every day I’m hearing, “Oh, what about this show?” Oh yeah. There are so many shows to watch, I’m sort of a chicken and steak guy. I go to a place and I either want chicken or steak. I don’t want any other choices. I want a baked potato and that’s it. So it’s definitely harder to get people to tune in when there’s 50 different choices. That’s the tough thing. I never thought I’d be a social media whore. My friends are like, “Yes, we get it, your show’s on tomorrow.” I’m like, “I have to do this! I’m proud of this!” It’s hilarious but they all get it. They all support this.
So when I tweet this interview, you better retweet me too.
Michael Rosenbaum: I will absolutely retweet you.
When do you hear from TV Land about a third season?
Michael Rosenbaum: You know, I think the third season, if we get a third season which I’m hoping, that’s again, last year it took about six or seven episodes in and we only have 10. I would say by the beginning of November we’d know. Maybe end of October. It just depends. If we grow this week and we grow the following week and we’re showing numbers that are growing an audience and it’s the demographic they want, then I think they’ll say, “Hey.” And also, I think the heads, like Cyma [Zarghami] and Kim Rosenblum really just like the show. They really love the show and want to see it succeed.