On FOX’s new hit comedy, “Raising Hope,” lead character Jimmy Chance becomes a father following a one night stand and his fling’s untimely trip to the electric chair – a journey only a bit more unexpected than the actor who plays Jimmy, AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star, Lucas Neff.
Lucas might be the face of one of fall’s best new comedies, but the 24-year-old wasn’t even supposed to be an actor. He owes it all to a clerical error.
“I applied to study film history. I wanted to study cameras, cinematography, stuff like that, I just really liked cameras and then somehow, my application got mis-processed and I ended up in the performing arts department,” Lucas told AccessHollywood.com.
“My mom has run a theatre company for about 30 years, so she thought it was a sign from God and I’m just an incredibly lazy person and I didn’t want to fill out any more paperwork,” he continued. “So, I thought I’d give it a shot and I pretty much instantly fell in love with it.”
Before getting cast on “Hope,” the Chicago native’s love of theater acting lead him to a life of pounding the pavement and cleaning toilets.
“I was in a play in Chicago, for which I was getting paid $500 total for about three months work, so if you supplement my income I was pretty much as broke as it gets,” he explained. “I had just quit a canvassing job where I was one of those people on the streets like, ‘Do you got a minute for the environment, got a minute for the environment?’ So I just started cleaning houses. I cleaned my first house, scrubbed my first two toilets, I think, pretty much the same week I got the callback for the audition.”
Lucas said his lack of notoriety previously worked against him when it came to landing a major role, but “Hope” creator Greg Garcia, of “My Name Is Earl” fame, took a chance with the young actor.
“I sort of had the disease of being un-famous, which makes it very difficult to get jobs in this business, because it is a business, and there is a sort of very clear logic as to why you want to hire more established actors… but [after my callback] Greg Garcia called me and just told me, sort of off the record, that I didn’t need to worry and that I would have the part,” the actor recalled.
The young star told Access that working alongside Martha Plimpton (who plays Virginia, his mom), Garret Dillahunt (who plays dad Burt), Shannon Woodward (who plays potential love interest Sabrina) and Cloris Leachman (who plays grandmother Maw Maw), has been exhilarating and educating.
“We really enjoy working with each other… It’s sort of amazing to watch Garrett and Martha and Shannon get up there and start playing, and the whole thing just comes alive instantly,” he said.
Lucas revealed that Cloris, who has been seen in various states of undress during the show’s first few episodes, is completely responsible for the nudity.
“None of that was in the script. That was all Cloris. There was no nudity originally. She was in a bra… we try to get the clothes back on her!” he joked.
As for upcoming storylines, Lucas explained that his character is going to learn a great deal this season, albeit it in a dysfunctional and hilarious way.
“This is sort of the year of firsts for Jimmy. It’s going to be the first Halloween and we’re taping the Halloween episode right now and there’s a very important kiss in this episode. We sort of learn a little more about the mistakes Jimmy’s parents made,” he told Access. “Jimmy gets another job, where he can spend some more time with Sabrina (Shannon Woodward). I think there’s going to be a lot more of Sabrina. Shelly makes some reappearances. We get to know some more family members… Oh, every member of my family is crazy. There are no sane ones in the Chance family.”
In addition to landing a plum role on a popular TV show, “Raising Hope” has also drastically changed the actor’s life at home.
“I’ve finally been able to get cable and the Internet, which is great because it’s tough not having TV or the Internet,” Lucas said with a laugh. “I’ve managed to start furnishing my apartment. I was living in like an empty apartment and it’s nice to go out and get a rug and a coffee table – those things are pretty cool… Oh, and I finally got the headlight on my car fixed. That was a good day.”
On Wednesday FOX announced a full-season pickup for “Raising Hope,” which airs Tuesday at 9 PM on FOX.