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Kevin James is doing something we would never expect from him in his new film. In Becky, James plays a violent Neo-Nazi, the villain of the film. It's a serious dramatic role with some obviously uncomfortable elements to it. It's a long way from Paul Blart: Mall Cop to be sure. It's maybe not too surprising that James wasn't the first choice for the role of the bad guy in Becky, though he got the role, in part, because he was already attached to the film. The actor and comedian was originally set to play a different role in the film and only stepped up to play the villain after the original actor cast, Simon Pegg, had to bow out.
Kevin James explained to Newsday that originally, he was going to play the role of the father who is held hostage by the Neo-Nazi, opposite Simon Pegg in the role of the bad guy. However, scheduling forced Pegg out of the role, and at that point, the idea of just moving James over crossed somebody's mind. According to Kevin James...
I feel like I relate to a lot of people as the common guy. But when you do that a lot, what happens is half of your audience wants to see more of that and the other half is like ‘I’ve seen that. Let’s see him do something different.’ I got this script and it was so out of left field. Originally, I was going to play the father of the daughter and Simon Pegg was going to play the villain. Then Simon had a scheduling conflict. So they had to recast the part. We came up with the idea, what if I do that part? I just went for it.
Even playing the father of title character Becky in the new movie would have been a different sort of role for Kevin James. The entire film is dramatic and violent in a way unlike what we've seen from James in the past, but making the leap all the way to playing the bad guy, who goes so far as to have a swastika tattooed on his head, is even more impressive. The role of the father would end up being played by Joel McHale.
Seeing Simon Pegg play the villain of Becky would certainly have been interesting as well. While Pegg has a bit more experience playing serious roles, we certainly haven't seen him do anything quite like this either. Either way, we were set to see an actor who generally plays sympathetic characters play one that was completely without sympathy.
Kevin James says he took the role, in part, because he wanted to do something that was very unlike his previous roles. It's unclear how he feels about that as an actor. Whether we're likely to see more of this, or a reversion to goofball comedy, we'll just have to wait and see I suppose.
Becky is available on VOD now and possibly could still be at your local drive-in.