This Sunday marks the return of Kenny Powers, the obscene, struggling pitcher looking for redemption and another shot at the big league in HBO's Eastbound & Down. The star of Eastbound and the man who plays "K. F___ing P.," Danny McBride, talked to TIME about his brief experiment with cornrows, the first Spanish curse word he ever learned and his short yet memorable stint as a substitute teacher.
What can people expect from Kenny Powers in Season Dos?
Kenny has made a tragic decision. He has left the love of his life at a gas station. Now he's trying to put the pieces back together. He's living the life of an outlaw down in Meh-hee-co, trying to assume a whole 'nother lifestyle and become a whole other person.
How's your Spanish?
Not that great. I took four years in high school, but I only retained the cuss words. Luckily, that comes in handy in a show like Eastbound.
What are a few of your favorites?
I think the first cuss word I learned was puta. When I was in Spanish class, we would test out the cuss words by yelling the word as loud as we could from the back of the classroom and then see if the teacher reacted to it or not. It was like, "Oh, we just found out what bitch is."
When I saw the first episode, I was a little concerned you were going to sport cornrows the entire season, but I'm happy to see the mullet made a quick return.
It's hard to keep a good mullet down.
Are you expecting any backlash for Kenny's new cockfighting ways?
Oddly enough, we had a guy on set who is a real cockfighter. We call him the cock whisperer. When we met the guy, we were like, "Do people name the cocks?" And he was like, "No, they're just cocks." He thought we were idiots. But it's pretty brutal. Cockfighting is legal in Puerto Rico, where we shot, and there's this place where they hold cockfights. It was just crazy. There's an area where you can order chicken fingers. I guess you can eat the loser.
I don't think you could eat the loser. But chicken fingers were on the menu.
When did you first think of the idea of Kenny Powers?
Back in 2004, I think. I had moved to Los Angeles in '99 with [Eastbound co-creator] Jody [Hill] and a bunch of my buddies from film school. We were all out there PA-ing [working as production assistants] and waiting tables. I didn't have any time to write or do the kind of stuff I really wanted to do in L.A., so I moved back home to Virginia. I was crashing at my parents' house, trying to save money and write. I got a job substitute teaching. And the first day I went in, I remember all of a sudden feeling really self-conscious about being there, and putting "Mr. McBride" on the board. I felt like this old, weird man. And it'd only been a few years since I had been in those students' position. I felt like they were all judging me. As soon as I introduced myself, I was like, "You know, I'm not like the rest of your teachers. I'm actually trying to get back to L.A. and make something happen with my life." And it was this weird, arrogant rant. That kind of sprung the idea of having Kenny do something that he thinks is far beneath him when in actuality it's a very noble profession.
I realize Kenny Powers is not meant to be a role model, but how did you feel about your character taking steroids?
It was part of what intrigued us. Jody and I don't have any sort of massive knowledge of baseball. Neither of us have a baseball player or a team we follow. Our knowledge was basically what we were gleaning from headlines. I think when we were seeing stories about different players being brought up on the stands, that concept was intriguing to us.
Did you play as a kid?
I did. I played baseball, ran track in high school and I played soccer. But I was terrible at all of that stuff.
Is that why Kenny Powers hates soccer?
Yeah. Well, for obvious reasons. Soccer's lame.