"We did not like him in season 1 but we like him now," London Brown on fan reaction to his character Reggie in 'Ballers'
London Brown, whose brother was murdered when filming season 2 of the series, makes it a point to go back to the hood and make it a better place
Season 4 of HBO 'Ballers' is up and running and guess what else is happening? Reggie is turning into a rather good guy and, in the latest episode titled ‘This Is Not Our World', even urging Vernon to donate money to save his old school,
Vernon impulsively donates a million dollars which pisses Reggie off, but that is not the point. The case is that the most hated character of the hit series is becoming more likeable with each new episode.
While people are questioning if Reggie has Vernon's best interest at heart or whether he is capable of turning into a good person or even a good friend, Meaww sits for an exclusive interview with London Brown talking about his on-screen character, and how strangers hate him for it, his upcoming standup comedy, growing up in the hood and pursuing his passion. Here's a spoiler already -- London Brown is not in the least a scathing character like Reggie and cannot wait for the world to see Reggie become a full-fledged super agent like Spencer Strasmore (played by Dwayne Johnson), donned in full suit regalia if ever Season 5 comes to be.
"Reggie has stumbled into becoming business savvy in Season 4," says Brown. "We can already see Reggie taking more of an imminent initiative to make better choices on behalf of his friend," he adds.
And that is not unknown to viewers, because as Reggie's character evolves so does London's social interactions with the character as a common point. In 2015, when Season 1 was just over, London while casually standing by a bar noticed a man, who looked like he was just out of the prison, staring at London from across the club. In a matter of beats, the man walked up to London and said, "I thought you were a guy who stole my girlfriend. But I realized the reason I did not like you was because you are the guy from the show." The man laughed, and so did London.This was only one of many such experiences London had after the world got acquainted with Reggie.
"Now it will get better because Reggie changes, but initially it was super annoying. And I already think people are a lot more kinder now. Those who knew me before the show know that I am a total opposite of Reggie but for those who don't I know my character comes out annoying, but the truth is I enjoyed playing Season one Reggie," shares the 37-year-old actor. Fully aware that the audience is liking the new Reggie, we need to clarify if he was just a misunderstood character in Season 1, and rightly so, London concurs.
"People have to remember that in Season 1, we did not get to see all sides of Reggie. He would make you laugh, irritate you and annoy you but at the same time, we see him fiercely defend his friend as seasons develop. People who are the fan of the show definitely say; we did not like him in season 1 but we like him now," London affirms.
"What many missed from Season 1 is how Reggie was always looking out for his friend. He may not have done it the right way but the goal was to protect his friend," adds London. London credits Reggie's growth from Season 1 to the one we see today to the character of Rob Corddry (played by Joe Krutel) and perhaps, that's enough of a reason to trust him.
London may have played the character of a scheming Reggie, but he ensures not to keep "Reggies" around him. "Wait!" He clarifies. "I try not to keep Season 1 Reggie around me but I do have people around me who look after me and protect me. I have so many people with Season 4 Reggie's heart and I am so glad they take care of me," London explains. A takeaway from playing Vernon's closest friend is understanding that people really do change. Reggie was also the character who taught London to invest and not to buy leases.
'Ballers' fans on social media have often questioned when Reggie's character will be phased out of the show. But here's a little-known truth. Reggie was supposed to be a recurring character only in one or two episodes, but soon after London's audition, Reggie was made the lead antagonist and a series regular. For the audition, London went dressed to the nine wearing a fine suit. Then it struck him that Reggie was supposed to be this regular guy from the hood in t-shirts, chains and fancy shoes. "I had a hint Reggie would make this far because in my audition I was Season 4's Reggie," London smiles.
"I personally like suits so if we can get Reggie in the right suit, hopefully in Season 5, I'd be very excited about that. If I had my way then Reggie will be fly as Will Smith," exclaims London, who believes that seeing Reggie's physical transformation throughout the show also conveys the idea that he has grown as a character.
While keeping Reggie's character fresh is London's biggest challenge and starring opposite Dwayne is no piece of cake, London says that he adores and respects The Rock but mostly keeps away from him. "I respect his space because he is such a big deal and we keep it very professional that way," says London.
Much loved stand-up comedian
Before London Brown became the most hated character in HBO's 'Ballers' and even before he became a much-loved standup comic, he was a school teacher. His teaching career opened doors for comedy when one day, he signed for a fundraising event and did a standup show, to much applause. Ever since, he started looking for open mics. Then one day in 2011, he was performing at a club and ran into Chris Tucker, who saw his performance and gave him the opportunity to tour with him and open his shows. In 2013, London Brown went on to win Best International Comedian at the Black Comedy Awards in the UK.
Fast forward to 2018, London Brown is on the road doing his own shows and the next North American comedy tour is in Jacksonville on August 30 and September 1 and another one in Atlanta on October 18- 21. In his upcoming shows, London is set to tickle your funny bone with topics such as cultural differences between black and white people, his life as a teacher and working with The Rock.
Very recently, London did a 'Just For Laughs' segment in Montreal produced by Kevin Hart and the show will likely be available on Netflix soon, though the date of London Brown's episode hasn't been confirmed yet.
Photographer of unknown and homeless faces
Besides being an actor, standup comedian and a teacher, London is also working on a photography coffee-table book. His passion for photography flowered after he was able to afford his first camera after going on tour with Chris Tucker. While new to the art, he always knew who his subjects would be: the homeless.
"When I bought myself my first camera I want to practice shooting but I did not want to photograph my friends because I did not want to deal with the pressure of taking great pictures," says London, adding, "I grew up around street people all my life so I thought I could start taking photographs of homeless people, which was also a great way to initiate a conversation with them."
In fact, it so happened that when London was working as a teacher, he saw many of his students wasting food. So he came up with the idea to collect the food and take it to downtown LA and distribute it to the homeless. This instinct to help the homeless and his passion for photography merged, when after feeding the homeless and engaging them in conversation, he would ask permission to take pictures.
"My interaction with the homeless people brought me down to the conclusion that people are people. So after we negate all the titles, it just comes down to what's in our hearts," says London. "Anyone can become homeless within months. Interacting with homeless people keeps me grounded and levelled and if you stay on the ground, you won't fall all the way down," believes London.
"Honestly, if Dwayne Johnson decides to go on a wrestling tour Ballers would be done. It would be over. So when my friends say to me how do you stay humble, I think it's not very difficult to stay humble if you know where these things come from," he adds.
Recently, London shared a picture of a homeless man he had photographed when he was filming season 2 of 'Ballers.' "You could see it in his eyes that life had gotten to him but he could still courageously smile. That made me wonder how all these successful celebrities with millions end up committing suicide, so none of these material things matter. Life is so complex than that," he adds.
"When I call these people to photograph with me and still be able to smile, it is an encouraging idea inside. Just to be able to smile, is a lot. It is a reality check for all of us so to get for us to really prioritize things."
"I am working on the coffee table photography book and the proceeds of the book will be used to feed the homeless," says London.
However, that is not where London's charity will end. He strives to be even more successful so that he is in a position buy another family a house just because he can. "That is success to me," he shares.
London Brown from the hood
When London was filming Season 2 of 'Ballers,' he got a message that his brother was murdered in the hood. "According to statistics most young black males are killed before the age of 25. I thought I had made it out because I was in my 30s and my mother and I moved out of the hood to a place that was less of a hood. I thought I had made it out," sighs London. "But my brother made the statistics of being murdered at 25," he adds.
Ever since the incident, London ensures to go back to the hood and conduct after-school programs to spread awareness against hod violence. "It's different when a Hollywood star who's never been in the hood comes back and speaks to the youth. But from my personal experience I have walked, I grew up in the same neighbourhood as them. and if I can make it out, I can inspire them to find a focus, so that they can get into their passion and make it out as well," says London who emphasizes that the" main thing is that I am a product of the hood."
Unlike many, who after getting fame remove themselves from associating with the hood, London Brown does not. He keeps going back there "I am like 'yo I am a walking example you can do this,'" he says. "The hood is important because I come from it and there are things you learn in the hood that you can't get anywhere else, such as being able to be street smart allows you to navigate through day to day life," the 'Hustle' star adds.
Added to his grounded attitude, Brown openly says that he does not take any credit for his success. "I thank god for putting me in this position and placing people around me to help me do it," says London. "I feel like God was gracious enough to say 'Hey, London, it's your time to shine. Imma give you some shine you know', not that I even deserve it," shares London, adding that it was impossible for him to land a role in HBO without any agent or proper representation. "I am very grateful for people who took a chance on me," he concludes.