Best known for his TV sitcom, George Lopez has built an impressive career exploring his Mexican American culture in stand-up comedy. Exporting his talents to TV and film, he has starred in Fatal Instinct, Valentine’s Day and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and lent his voice to numerous animated films. His kind of humor is often bawdy, so Lopez, 60, was shocked when he was invited to star as God’s Motorcyclist opposite Edward James Olmos in the uplifting golf comedy Walking With Herb.
Question: Are you religious?
GEORGE I’m not a total heathen. I have some faith and belief in a higher power.
Question: I believe Prince tried to interest you in the Bible many years ago?
GEORGE: Yes, he had seen my comedy specials and liked my sketch “Chaka Khan Stole My Sweater”
Question: Hold on! What was “Chaka Khan stole my sweater” about?
GEORGE: It was based on my grandmother who raised me. She had dementia and was in a care home. She called me and said Chaka Khan stole her sweater. She had African-American caretakers but couldn’t remember their names, so instead she said crazy things like, “Diana Ross stole money from my purse.”
Question: Have you seen Morgan Freeman or other actors who played God?
GEORGE: I’ve been looking at “Oh God!” starring John Denver and George Burns, a 1977 movie that was popular in my teens. George Burns was in his nineties, playing God with a hat and a cigar, doing things to prove John Denver who he was. He was very funny and I thought if George Burns could get it done, I could too.
Q: You are an avid golfer and you play in celebrity tournaments. Were you frustrated only playing caddy for Edward James Olmos’ golfer in this 18-hole comedy?
GEORGE: At first I thought Eddie would be the caddy and I would be the golfer – but no. Eddie hadn’t played much golf, but he went to the driving range from 8-11pm and hit thousands of golf balls. So when he got down to business, he didn’t look like he couldn’t play – and that was all he had to be. Phil Mickelson was there at the recent Masters and he’s 50, and Jack Nicklaus won the Masters , 46 years old. Golf is a game of skill rather than age.
Question: You turned 60 on April 23. How did that happen?
GEORGE: I’m still dealing with the reality that I’m 60 because I consider myself very young in my mind and spirit. But it’s a number and you only feel as old as you allow yourself to feel. Do I walk through the mall in the morning? Not yet. But am I walking around the neighborhood? Yes. Do I take better care of myself? Absolutely. Am I drinking as much as I did ten years ago? No.
“You only feel as old when you allow yourself to feel.”
Question: What was it like working with Edward James Olmos?
GEORGE: Great. I always looked up to him. I saw him in Zoot Suit when I was in high school and all the kids took the bus to Hollywood. It was the first play I’ve ever seen. I was amazed. I met him in 1988 and he invited me to his house for lunch. In the early 2000s, we got closer and started doing things together, so it was extraordinary to make this movie with him, as an actor and not a comedian. Sometimes people with boxers say, ‘Those guys don’t belong in the same ring,’ so I see this the same way. When you look at the caliber of Eddie’s work, you wouldn’t think that someone who came up as a comedian could even keep up with him. But Robin Williams, Jackie Gleason, and Michael Keaton were all stand-up comedians who later became dramatic actors.
Q: How have your culture and heritage influenced your career?
GEORGE: I was always a little bit darker than my friends and trusted that my heritage was coming because you couldn’t ignore it. Years ago I performed at Caroline’s in New York and was in a bad place as a comedian when Dave Becky [Chris Rock’s manager] suggested making my material more personal. I started to look at my grandmother who raised me. She was very funny and wry and a little mean. So when I started investing in our relationship, she was almost a muse, and I found that all the success I had was related to my relationship with my grandmother.
“… all the success I’ve had has to do with my relationship with my grandmother.”
Q: Who else has helped in your career?
GEORGE I don’t think I would be in this position today without Sandra Bullock holding my hand and supporting me. We met after her mother passed away  and she had done them Miss Congeniality and was the greatest movie star. But she was a little disappointed with the company because of this tragic personal loss. And when we tried to put her way back to Hollywood back together we met and somehow my eagerness to take it to the next level and prove I was funny inspired her and made her believe revived in the company. She became an executive producer on my TV show and was there every step of the way.
Q: What does aging with an attitude mean to you?
GEORGE: To me it means that you still like to wear your favorite clothes and colors and don’t necessarily choose the clothes that are meant for someone a little older. It’s about staying hip with coats, shoes and hair, with a little swagger. I met Paul Newman in 2006 and he really impressed me that he always wore white with his incredibly blue eyes. So I’d like to see that for myself in the way I dress, while keeping the style.
Never lose your confidence in yourself or your faith in the good. ”
Q: This movie is about second chances and you got your own second chance 16 years ago with your kidney transplant. How are you?
GEORGE I’m really good. I was warned early in my years that I was going to develop kidney problems. Even at the age of 18 I had hyper tension that was part of it. The day after my kidney transplant on April 19, 2005, I woke up feeling better than in my entire life, and that’s when I decided it would be a disservice to me to feel so good and not help others. started a foundation to help children with kidney disease. My ex-wife Ann gave me her kidney which was truly a gift of life. We are still talking and our daughter is 25. I appreciate this gift even more as I get older.
Question: How do you hope the audience will respond to Walking With Herb?
GEORGE: Regardless of whether you share with someone else what you believe in, I hope you never lose your confidence in yourself or your faith in the good.
Walking with Herb will premiere on April 30, May 1 and May 3 for a three-night nationwide Fathom Events limited engagement. Find tickets on FathomEvents.com or WalkingWithHerbMovie.com.
Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnRurQZbdf8
Above: George Lopez in WALKING WITH HERB – in theaters across the country April 30. Photo credit: OPTIMISM ENTERTAINMENT
Center: Left to Right: George Lopez and Edward James Olmos in WALKING WITH HERB – in theaters April 30th nationwide. Photo by: OPTIMISM ENTERTAINMENT