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Interview: Actor/comedian George Wallace talks ‘Shirin in Love’

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In the same vein as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Shirin in Love,” which releases to select theaters on March 14, tells the story of a Beverly Hills-based, Iranian-American woman (Nazanin Boniadi), who’s engaged to a successful, Iranian plastic surgeon named Mike (Maz Jobrani). And even though she’s engaged, she finds herself becoming attracted to another man named William (Riley Smith), who lives in a lighthouse in Northern California. This breaks tradition, but she finds happiness with William. With two men in her life, Shirin must discover herself and what is best for her.

Recently, the Chico Movie Examiner conducted an over-the-phone interview with actor/comedian George Wallace, who plays Officer Marvin Henderson. Marvin pulls over Shirin every time she runs a stop sign, which happens quite often. The two soon become good friends, and Marvin becomes a counselor for Shirin as well.

Wallace talks about his role in the film; his career as a comedian; and more. Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: I saw you in concert 10 years ago at Gold Country Casino with Louie Anderson.

George Wallace: OK.

David Wangberg: That same year, you played a cop in “The Ladykillers” remake; you were the sheriff.

George Wallace: That’s right. Now, I’m playing another cop in “Shirin in Love.”

David Wangberg: Would you consider this to be pure coincidence? How do you see this?

George Wallace: Oh, totally pure coincidence. They wanted me to do it, and they said, “Let’s do this cute, love [story].” There’s an Iranian-American girl, very cute, and I’m playing the police officer who pulls her over every day. She’s smart, but she just runs stop signs and everything. And I become her friend, and I become somewhat of a counselor, and she’s falling in love with two guys. She’s getting ready to get married, but she loves another guy. And I become a counselor, and she wants to know what to do. And I say, “Obviously, the best thing to do is run away with me.” That’s just the story, and you take it from there, and it’s a very nice, cute story. Nazanin Boniadi, she’s fantastic.

David Wangberg: What’s the biggest difference from the George Wallace I saw 10 years ago and the George Wallace to whom I’m speaking now?

George Wallace: Well, times have changed. Certainly, topical material has changed. We’ve got everything from the gay [controversy] from the Olympics. They said there were no gays at Sochi, and I’m just going, “My god, did you see the opening ceremony? The decorations? There aren’t any gays over there?” There must be a big closet – they got a big a** closet over there.

And then there are some tropical things happening with the weather; people are saying stupid things; and I’m still running for president, but life is good. 10 years ago, we didn’t have Twitter. I’ve become one of the top 25 funniest tweeters by Rolling Stone magazine. I just wrote a book called “Laff it Off.” You can get that book online at Amazon or GeorgeWallace.net.

What else am I doing? I won a BET Lifetime Achievement Award last year, and at the Flamingo for 10 years, and I’m still there.

David Wangberg: Very cool. And I saw that your book was published. Congratulations, by the way.

George Wallace: Thank you, sir.

David Wangberg: And your character in “Shirin in Love,” he’s a police officer, but he wants to be a writer as well. If you were going to do a fictional book, what kind of genre would you go for?

George Wallace: Well, that’s just the character. [laughs]

“Laff it Off” is an inspirational book; a self-help book; and a life coach book. My next book is just going to be a little funny book. It’s going to be called “People Can Say Some Stupid Shtuff.”

David Wangberg: You were talking about how Marvin is always pulling over Shirin for running the stop sign. In your position, if you get pulled over, do you try to talk yourself out of a ticket by telling a joke, or do you just let the officer write you the ticket?

George Wallace: Usually, when I’m driving, I’m in an area where they know me. If I’m driving, I’m usually in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, so they pretty much know me. Other cities, I have a driver. In New York City, it’s a taxi or a subway. But I will try to talk my way out of a ticket in a minute.

David Wangberg: [laughs] You don’t want to have to pay that fine?

George Wallace: Not at all. Trust me.

David Wangberg: If you were actually a police officer, instead of a comedian, which famous person would you think it would be interesting to pull over?

George Wallace: Oprah Winfrey.

David Wangberg: Why Oprah?

George Wallace: She’s my idol. I would just love to pull her over and talk to her and say hello and give a warning.

David Wangberg: What would happen if you pulled over Jerry Seinfeld?

George Wallace: He gets a ticket for sure.

David Wangberg: [laughs]

George Wallace: I’ve known Jerry for 38 years; he’s my best friend. He definitely gets a ticket.

David Wangberg: One of the things Marvin tells Shirin is that police have a good sense of psychology. As a comedian, you need to have a good sense of humor, but what’s another sense a comedian would need to have in order to be successful?

George Wallace: Honesty, and a good sense of reality, [knowing] what’s going on in the world today. You gotta love it; you gotta eat it; you gotta drink it; [and] sleep it. Comedians are a rare breed, as you know, and we just love what we do. When we see happy people, it just makes us happier. So, that really turns us on, and we love what we’re doing and being honest to the crowd. If you’re honest with the crowd, they’ll love you.

David Wangberg: Marvin sees himself more as a writer than he does as a police officer. If you reach a point in your career, where you decide standup might not be what you want to do, what other career would you choose?

George Wallace: No, no, no. I’ve been doing comedy for 38 years; I’ve been wanting to do it since I was six years old. I will always do it; there’s no other choice.

David Wangberg: No other choice?

George Wallace: No other choice. I love what I do; it’s the greatest job in the world, and when almost 750 people come out every night, that’s pretty cool.

David Wangberg: I know that you’re doing a lot of your shows in Vegas. Do you have plans to travel outside of Vegas and maybe go to California or some other state?

George Wallace: Yes, I do; I have some other casino dates. I’ve also become ambassador of the United States Armed Forces, so I’ve been entertaining the troops over in Guam, Phillipines, South Korea, and Okinawa, Japan. So, I’ve been away a lot.

David Wangberg: You’ve been given the title “Mr. Vegas.” What title would you give Marvin?

George Wallace: “Mr. Vegas Junior.” [laughs]

David Wangberg: [laughs] Well, that’s all the questions I have for you, unless you wanted to add anything about “Shirin in Love.”

George Wallace: We think this is a sleeper, and it’s going to grow in selected cities. And we start out this Friday. It’s a movie [where] you should sit down and relax, and I think couples are going to love it.

David Wangberg: Indeed. I really enjoyed watching it last night. It was a really funny movie.

George Wallace: Well, thank you so much. Thank the readers and tell them to check it out. I’m George Wallace, I love ya, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank George Wallace for taking the time to talk about “Shirin in Love.” Be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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