Kevin James took some hits in his latest role. Really. In Here Comes the Boom, out Friday, the comedian/actor plays Scott Voss, a biology teacher who becomes his high school’s hero.
When budget cuts lead to the possible demise of the music program and its teacher (Henry Winkler), James turns to mixed martial arts fighting to raise money. James, from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel-Miami, said making this film — he shares producing credits — was a “passion project.” “I wrestled in high school and was always into sports, I had great teachers, too. Kids are dealing with programs getting cut today. So I wanted to combine all of this with the crazy world of mixed martial arts with music and comedy. I was excited to get it done and do it.”
Normally beefy, the former King of Queens star had to change up his fitness routine and diet. Unlike in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, there was no Segway to save him. “It took 14 months, and it was brutal,’’ James relayed. “I started eating greens and working out with pro fighters, sometimes two to three times a day.” The Long Island native, who idolized Rocky growing up, wants concerned parents to know this isn’t a violent movie, but an inspirational one. “This is a comedy that shows you the world through my eyes, as an everyday guy. Fighting is more of a metaphor for the obstacles you have in your life. This is what you have to do to become a champion. We need to see how far this character would go to sacrifice for his friends.”
James, 47, had quite an education during the shoot, working with actual UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) professionals. “You realize these guys who people envision as gladiators beating up on [each other] are great family men putting food on the table for their kids. It’s amazing to see how they treat each other, all the camaraderie. It’s a very unique job … one that I wouldn’t want to do.”