Los Angeles – — In conversation, John Stamos comes across as entirely at ease in his handsome, age-defying skin.
Who wouldn’t be? But he admits that he longed to slip into something less comfortable on TV, a character distant from the good-natured charmers he’s known for. He thought he’d found it.
“I was auditioning for an Amazon pilot called ‘Cocked,’ as this drugged-out guy who inherits a gun company. It was very dark, and I just kept auditioning, and I really wanted it, and I didn’t get it,” he recalled.
His agent had a rebound suggestion. If his goal was to be on TV and entertain viewers, Stamos was advised to do what he does best.
He found the role and the vehicle in Fox’s new comedy “Grandfathered” (8 p.m. Tuesday), cut with couture precision to fit him. Stamos plays a restaurateur and — kinda — content single guy who finds his self-absorbed life upended by the 20-something son he didn’t know he had. Oh, and there’s also a grandbaby.
Stamos, 52, has effectively played against type before, most notably in Broadway revivals “Cabaret” and Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man.” But he says he’s happily accepted his “Grandfathered” fate as swinging Jimmy Martino, suddenly grounded by his past.
“I’m satisfied with being a guy who’s likable and funny and self-deprecating,” Stamos said. “I don’t need to stretch so far, especially in television where you could play a character, hopefully, for years. You want to play something that you enjoy doing for 10, 12, 14 hours a day.”
And if the playboy-out-of-water evokes “Full House,” the 1980s-plus comedy in which he played a breezily irresponsible guy called on to help raise a family (and which is being revisited with a Netflix sequel), Stamos is unfazed.
“I’m not afraid to lean into what people want to see me do. And I’m not afraid to throw a baby in there if I have to. Or throw in some old friend that I used to be on another TV show with, if that’s what people want to see,” he said, the latter a reference to “Full House” alum Bob Saget, a guest star on “Grandfathered.”
It’s a mechanical approach that’s more typical than not in TV, but with good result here. The well-cast series includes an appealing Josh Peck (“Drake & Josh”) as Gerald, the son in need of a dad; the always welcome Paget Brewster (“Community,” “Criminal Minds”) as Sara, Gerald’s mom and the woman who’s sure Jimmy isn’t family-man material; and Christina Milian as Vanessa, Gerald’s baby mama who sees him only as a pal and co-parent.
The pilot comedy has the pace, smarts and just enough heart to make it appealing without descending into cuteness overkill or crassness. That’s thanks to Stamos, a hands-on executive producer, as well as star, and the writer-producers he’s collaborating with.
Daniel Chun, the series’ creator, has an impressive resume that includes “The Simpsons,” “The Office” and “Happy Endings.” Fellow executive producer Dan Fogelman’s credits include the movie “Cars” and TV series “Galavant.”
“Grandfathered” is paired with Fox’s “The Grinder,” which also stars a great-looking, 50-something guy, Rob Lowe. The audience showed interest, with each series drawing a respectable 5 million viewers in last week’s debuts against blockbuster competitors “NCIS” and “The Voice.”
Besides “Grandfathered,” Stamos is resurrecting the character of Jesse Katsopolis for “Fuller House,” which he pushed as a producer to get made. It’s slated for release next year.
While his work ethic is undeniable, Stamos credits his enduring looks and energy to his “stress-free” approach to life (with a nod to good genes).
“Sometimes it gets me in trouble and sometimes it’s not the best thing, but I have a very youthful attitude toward everything,” he said. “It’s part of not wanting to be an adult. I keep going into adulthood kicking and screaming, I think.”
Does the bachelor (since his marriage to Rebecca Romijn ended in 2005) face pressure to embrace other aspects of grown-up life? Maybe even have real kids, not just proxy TV ones?
“I end up making my sister a promise every year, and it’s been going on for four or five years, that if I don’t end up having a baby in a year that I’ll look into adopting one,” said Stamos, a longtime advocate for Project Cuddle, a child protection charity.
That vow satisfies your sibling?
“Seems to,” he said. Charmingly, of course.
8 p.m. Tuesdays
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