What We Discuss with Josh Peck:
- Why Josh considers it a blessing he grew up before social media dominated the landscape of adolescence.
- How Josh went from wild child to grounded, friendly father (instead of becoming some kind of “drunk Hollywood jerkface”) without knowing his own father until later in life.
- What Josh did to overcome the food addiction that once had him tipping the scales at 297 — when he was just a kid.
- How Josh became a standup comedian at the tender age of 11, and what he did to relate to his significantly older audience.
- How ego can turn someone into an imposter — and how this is different from the common phenomenon of imposter syndrome.
- And much more…
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Hollywood has a predictable penchant for ruining the childhoods of young actors and heartlessly abandoning them when their usefulness has passed the expiration date. Many of these actors spiral down a tunnel of self-destructive bad habits from which they never recover, while others, like Josh Peck, are able to maneuver out of this nosedive and beat the entertainment industry at its own game by becoming successful actors as adults.
On this episode, Josh joins us to discuss his new memoir, Happy People Are Annoying, which details how he overcame an eating addiction to lose over 70 pounds and maintain his ideal weight, what he did to make the transition from wild child to grounded father, how he learned to redefine happiness in order to live life on his own terms, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Miss our episode with spooky mentalist Derren Brown? Catch up with episode 150: Derren Brown | Using the Power of Suggestion for Good here!
Thanks, Josh Peck!
If you enjoyed this session with Josh Peck, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Happy People Are Annoying by Josh Peck | Amazon
- Josh Peck | Twitter
- Josh Peck | Instagram
- Josh Peck | YouTube
- Josh Peck | Facebook
- Drake & Josh | Wikipedia
- Episode 99: Jordan Harbinger | Curious with Josh Peck
- Turner And Hooch | Prime Video
- Generation X Was Lucky: We Grew up Before Smartphones | The Sydney Morning Herald
- Unflattering Beyonce | Know Your Meme
- Fight Club | Prime Video
- Covert Contracts — The Invisible Saboteurs of Relationships | Dismantled Mind
- 8 Common Symptoms of Food Addiction | Healthline
- How to Overcome Food Addiction | Healthline
- The Harmful Effects of Fat Shaming | Healthline
- The Amanda Show | Wikipedia
- Lisa Lampanelli | Changing Careers at the Top of Your Game | Jordan Harbinger
- Steve Carell Shares Why He Loved Playing Michael Scott on The Office | Mashable
- Uptown Girl (Official Video) | Billy Joel
- ‘I Am Chris Farley’ Documentary Highlights | Paramount Network
- The Engagement Party | Bridesmaids
- Grandfathered | IMDb
- Tracy Morgan | Twitter
- Diff’rent Strokes | Prime Video
- James Burrows | IMDb
- The Tragedy of Macbeth Official Trailer | Apple TV+
- Watch the Uncensored Moment Will Smith Smacks Chris Rock on Stage at the Oscars | Guardian News
- Colin Quinn Fights for His Own Show | The New York Times
- Backstage Magazine
- Carolines on Broadway
- Everyone’s Got a Favorite | Entenmann’s
- Beverly Hills High School
- Top 20 Ridiculous Shia LaBeouf Moments | WatchMojo
- After Being Job-shamed for Bagging Groceries, Former ‘Cosby Show’ Star Returns to TV | GMA
- Oprah’s Yo-Yo Years Are Finally Over | The Guardian
- Dwayne Johnson | Twitter
- Chris Hemsworth | Twitter
- The Wackness | Prime Video
- Michael Cera | IMDb
- Jonah Hill | IMDb
- First Brad Renfro, Now Heath Ledger | BlackBook
- Red Dawn (2012) | Prime Video
- Thor | Prime Video
- Remembering Muhammad Ali through His Poem, ‘I Am the Greatest’ | All Things Considered
- How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Stop Feeling Like An Imposter | Jordan Harbinger
657: Josh Peck | Happy People Are Annoying
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Josh Peck: The problem with — I shouldn't say the problem, but the reality is, is that when you become a public person, your ego is such almost no one leaves on their own accord, right? Like whenever you see someone who had a really big moment and you're like, "Why has he been making these like B movies last 20 years? Or he seems to always be on some reality show." And I'm like, "Because they weren't willing to go to Dallas and be a real estate agent," because he didn't want to be the guy from that thing. They didn't want to be like — hear that whisper. Like, "Why is he showing a pre-fab condo? Like wasn't he on Netflix a few years ago?" Like most people's ego cannot take that. I am the other hand, love Dallas and I love, I love selling homes.
[00:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional money-laundering expert, mafia enforcer, or hostage negotiator. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:01:07] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like abnormal psychology, China and North Korea, investing in financial crimes, scams and conspiracies, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:32] Today, child actor, now, adult actor — actually let me rephrase that grown-up actor and friend of mine, Josh Peck, depending on how old you are, you might remember him from Drake and Josh on Nickelodeon and many other shows where he's played various roles, most notably himself. Today, we're talking about growing up in the spotlight with love from millions of adoring strangers, but without a father. We'll get into food and substance abuse, as well as his unusual career path and the strength of mind that got him there, and through the whole thing. This is a really fun, open, and vulnerable conversation. And I know that you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Here we go with Josh Peck.
[00:02:09] I'm pretty stoked for this one. I read the whole book as I usually do. There's a lot of good material in here, man. You were pretty open and this thing.
[00:02:18] Josh Peck: Well, I'm honored. And I remember when I had you on my podcast years ago, you basically said, "The reason why I succeed is that I outwork everyone and do—"
[00:02:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:02:26] Josh Peck: "—hours and hours of prep." And I hope you only did a quarter of that for me.
[00:02:29] Jordan Harbinger: Only a quarter of that. Yeah. You know, I don't remember how long it took because the book flew by. I got to say, it's a good read. And I don't say that about every book. It did help that I knew you because I was like imagining a person that I knew. But I think a lot of people who read your book feel like they know you because they watched your show for years, right?
[00:02:45] Josh Peck: I think that's right. And I also was — early on, I got the suggestion of people love to feel like they finish a chapter. Like they love that feeling of completion. So I get the chapters short and plentiful.
[00:02:56] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I did the audio, so I didn't notice that, but that's a good idea, right? Like two pages. And you're like, "I've read a whole chapter. I read three chapters today. I'm cruising."
[00:03:03] Josh Peck: We love accomplishing things.
[00:03:04] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. That's true. We do gamification, even a book. So a while ago I was in Prague. I saw a poster of you in Czech and I snapped a photo and I sent it to you. I don't expect you to remember this, but it was surreal because I met you on your podcast and I knew you were like this famous guy from Nickelodeon, but I was too old by that time — I didn't have cable by the time your show came out. And I was probably too old for the show. I can't really, I don't really know because again, I didn't have cable, but I'm also so far away from the Hollywood scene that I guess it didn't really sink in.
[00:03:33] And then you're like, "Oh, I'm on this new show. I'll have to text you later. I'm filming." And I was like, "Yeah, cool." And then I go to Eastern Europe and I'm at a tram stop. And I'm like, "Wow, I know that guy." I'm really far away. And you're on every bus stop in Prague. And I was like, "Oh, you really are doing it." You are a person that is getting a lot of press and is really actually a famous person. It was really kind of, I don't know why I was surprised, but it was cool. Like it was like a very surreal moment.
[00:03:58] Josh Peck: I'm very hot in Eastern countries and very hot and cold places. I do well on the entire Eastern block. I'm very hot in Lithuania right now. That was for Turner & Hooch, right?
[00:04:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. It's for Turner & Hooch, exactly.
[00:04:12] Josh Peck: Well, listen, Jordan, you could sort of parachute into different times in my life where me being on billboards was just not a thing. Like I was going through a challenging sort of a career moment, but it just so happened in that moment that I got to have a little bit of data to validate me. So I'm glad you got to witness that.
[00:04:32] Jordan Harbinger: I did. I got to witness it and it was really fun to see. It's strange to hear how much of a wild child you were because when I met you on your show, a couple of years ago, you were a father. You're grounded, super friendly, calm, still fun though. And all those positive qualities, you are definitely not some like out of control, drunk Hollywood jerkface. And then the book has a few stories about that. You are literally the opposite of that. And of course, I see you as the opposite of that. So I guess congratulations on not being a drunk Hollywood jerkface.
[00:05:02] Josh Peck: Thank you so much. It's always been a goal of mine to avoid the jerkface space. You know, it's weird because I kind of got in right at the buzzer that my sort of years of sowing my wild oats were not recorded on social media. And I even say in the book, like I'm weirdly outing myself here instead of some bad mugshot on TMZ, but it felt like there had been enough time in between that moment of my life to where I could sort of talk about it in an enlightened way.
[00:05:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You know, that's funny what you say about the social media thing. Because before I go to bed every night, not by choice, I typically think about something that was really cringed that I did 20 years ago and I hope no one remembers.
[00:05:40] Josh Peck: Really?
[00:05:41] Jordan Harbinger: Just not one thing in particular. There's just many things that were like that in my health, in my life, you know, like barfing on someone or something, you know, things like that. Literally, that's one of them and I'm just like, I'm so glad that I didn't have a bunch of strangers filming me do that. Or you know, all of these other things that I might not even remember, that could end up being on video. And we were just lucky enough that that didn't really exist when you and I were of the age where we were doing super stupid crap. Like the resolution on the phones wasn't that good slash people didn't even have phones until we were a few years away from, hopefully, being done with all that.
[00:06:16] Josh Peck: I actually think that our generation or the younger side of Millennial, and maybe like the next one, which would be Gen Z, I suppose, they're the ones that are really screwed.
[00:06:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:06:26] Josh Peck: Because they're sort of misdeeds or have already been captured during the time in which social media was new enough to where they could be young and stupid and write ridiculous sh*t or, you know, take photos of things that they wouldn't want people to see. And it's somewhere in their timeline because now like my son where it's so ubiquitous and he's three, he's growing up with it. I will instill in him from as early as I can do not put anything on the Internet that you wouldn't want on the jumbotron and Madison Square Garden, because it will haunt you, whether you're a private person or, you know, the rock, people will find reasons in which to try to bury you with that.
[00:07:06] Jordan Harbinger: Look, there are terrible photos of Beyoncé out there from like a freeze frame at a Super Bowl halftime show that people have altered or, you know, found like the one frame that doesn't look good. And they're like, here's the photo. So if that's what's happening to these wealthy, powerful people, anything can happen to a kid who's being bullied by somebody else, or isn't even being bullied by somebody else but just somebody decides they have it out for them.
[00:07:30] Does having your own kid now make you realize just how crazy your childhood was?
[00:07:34] Josh Peck: Certainly. I was witnessed to my own experience and it was specific to me. So as I'm going through it, and I'm dealing with, you know, not having a dad and becoming a public person at 12 years old being, snuck into stand-up clubs when I'm 10 to do a five-minute set in at 11 o'clock at night because they don't want to lose their liquor license. And now, having this—
[00:07:54] Jordan Harbinger: We're going to get to that. Don't worry.
[00:07:56] Josh Peck: Having this kid who's like, you know, biggest concern is whether or not like Sesame Street has a new episode coming out that Sunday, it becomes more clear how sort of specific my upbringing was.
[00:08:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Let's talk about this crazy childhood a little bit. I mean, you gave some teasers there. So your dad — tell me the abbreviated story about this. It started all in an unconventional way, so to speak.
[00:08:19] Josh Peck: I mean, my mom was in her early 40s. She was an entrepreneur living in New York, sort of figuring her life out still in her early 40s and assume she'd never have a kid, but always had like a deep desire, but had figured that the sands of time had just moved no longer in her favor. And luckily she knew my father who she had a very sort of on-again, off-again, business relationship with, I say in the book, the kind of person that you run into once or twice a year and say, "We should grab lunch," but never do. And luckily for her, he had a very well-timed separation of I'm guessing about six hours from his wife of many decades. Long enough for him to not only hook up with my mom, but impregnate her and take her out for deli after, which I'm not sure if that had any sort of, you know, effect on the procreating process, but I imagine it couldn't have hurt.
[00:09:11] Jordan Harbinger: Corned beef is such a natural sort of fertility food, right?
[00:09:16] Josh Peck: Yeah, no, I mean it absolutely. And I basically was the result of a 62-year-old guy and a 42-year-old woman hooking up once—
[00:09:27] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:09:27] Josh Peck: —and it shouldn't have been, and yet here I am.
[00:09:31] Jordan Harbinger: How did it feel from the jump? Like from the beginning, there's no dad in your life. And also, he's essentially a random guy with another family of kids/grandkids, you know, that has to affect your worldview growing up.
[00:09:46] Josh Peck: Yeah. I mean, he was this guy who was in his 60s, who was basically in the third act of his life. And from what I can tell, like pretty accomplished dude, where he literally should have been sort of like taking this victory march in the convalescence instead of, you know, getting Medicare and chicks pregnant. But basically, I think that — yeah, early on my mom, I have to give her credit because she did a really good job of telling me all the things that were great about my dad. That he was handsome and a great business person and a schmoozer. And I always say like, he seemed like this sort of Sterling guy and the only knock against him is he wanted nothing to do with me.
[00:10:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:27] Josh Peck: But it wasn't until later on, as I got a little older that she sort of told the other side of the story, which was once she told him she was pregnant, he immediately sort of did a 180 and excommunicated her and said, "I want nothing to do with you." And eventually, it sort of ended in her having to take him to court when I was six months old to get a bit of a payout. And that was it. And so, you know, things like that, your earliest sort of models for parents — you know, I say this line from Fight Club, "If our fathers are our model for God. And our fathers leave us, what does that say about God?" It finds its way into your daily activities, your life in these sort of surreptitious ways that you almost can't notice it until it's corrupted that thing. And then it's incumbent on you to try to change it, ideally.
[00:11:21] Jordan Harbinger: How often did you think of your father growing up? Because I feel like for me, the curiosity of like, what would my dad do in this situation? Even if I'd never really met the guy that would knock me all the time and I'd be like, "Would he be aggressive about it? Would he be really calm about—?" I would just want to know what someone else would do, especially somebody who is, you know, my dad.
[00:11:41] Josh Peck: And from what I remember, do you have a good relationship with your dad?
[00:11:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I mean, he was like angry a lot because he was stressed out, but he was around and now I'm off—
[00:11:50] Josh Peck: That was just the '80s.
[00:11:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that was the '80s. But now I'm like, he would be really angry about this. I'm going to not be super ridiculously angry about this for no reason. I'm going to handle this in a different way. But, you know, it's not like do the opposite of whatever my dad did, but at least I knew kind of what was going to happen with him. You are literally guessing.
[00:12:10] Josh Peck: That's sort of a playbook that I subscribed to, right? Because every opposite thing that I do from my dad is probably the right thing because merely sticking around is a positive.
[00:12:22] Jordan Harbinger: As far as parenting is concerned, like not abandoning your kid. Okay. Check.
[00:12:26] Josh Peck: Done. I tried to say that to him. It doesn't resonate. Not yet, but I'm like, "Can you just appreciate that I'm here?"
[00:12:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. He's like, "No. I want Legos. What don't you understand?"
[00:12:36] Josh Peck: He wants it all. But I think, you know, throughout my life, it was just sort of like these small jabs, these emotional jabs and it wasn't every day, but it was enough to where you'd be at school and someone would reference her dad or there would be a little league practice or just so many different moments in which I felt that sort of cool breeze of being different. And I felt like I suffered from that as far back as I can remember. This terminal uniqueness, this idea that like that would be too normal for the Pecks. I say in the book that like, I wasn't angry at my dad. I was angry at God. Because to have a father would be too normal for a guy like me, because I was overweight, I was in a musical theater. I had a single mom — we always took trains and cars. We never took planes because my mom was definitely afraid to fly. It was like anything that was normal was just too typical for the Pecks. And at that age to be unique is like a death sentence.
[00:13:40] Jordan Harbinger: You want to be like as normal and blended as much as possible from age 12 to whatever. I definitely remember that. You'd say you didn't even know what your dad looked like until you were what? 24 years old.
[00:13:52] Josh Peck: Yeah, until I was 25. I had spent my life sort of thinking that I had this emotional grenade that I loved holding onto this idea that I knew that he had kids and a wife and a whole other life. And my desire was that I just knew that if I wanted to explode his life, I could. And that was good enough for me. But I also like, sort of knew that he was in his '80s and by the time that I was ready to meet my dad, I had walked through enough in my 20s where I felt like, "Well, I know what he gets. He gets this kid that doesn't really need him, but what do I get?" Like I have this dad who can't play catch with me. And I remember distinctly feeling like, at this point, I'm not sure what I get out of this sort of trade.
[00:14:39] And then when he passed away, I was sort of overcome by this feeling of like, "Wow, he began my life and left my life on his terms." It frustrated me and he was in his 80s. So he didn't have much of an online footprint, but it occurred to me that my siblings probably did, and I knew their names. So I looked them up on Facebook after he passed away. And I was immediately hit with this treasure trove of photos and throughout their life. And my dad had bar mitzvahs and weddings, and then these beautiful tributes to him after he passed. And it made me realize that my father wasn't just what he was to me. You know, he was also what he was to them. And I couldn't be the arbiter of what the ultimate right ones.
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: That's a really mature way to look at it because I think a lot of people would just possibly just be angry and not much more.
[00:15:34] Josh Peck: I think I was angry for a really long time. And I think that's part of why I was a hundred pounds overweight when I was 15 years old. And part of why from 18 to 21, I was sort of on this, you know, drug and drunk vision quest. Luckily, I had done enough work at that point where I just felt as though it was lucky. You know, when a parent leaves you, you know that you've inherited something that you didn't have anything to do with. So while I knew I was affected by it, I didn't carry any of that shame or blame because I said, "Well, I inherited this bad setup." I had spent a long time being angry. And I knew that that, that was like bad fuel for my engine. It let the car run, but it was corroding the engine.
[00:16:21] Jordan Harbinger: You mentioned also that you had a lot of weird relationships with men because you lacked a father and you wanted to put these expectations, or you ended up putting up these expectations on other men in your life. And I think these are called the covert contracts, right? Where like a guy might be taking on like a minor mentorship role. And like you said, little league and he's like the coach, but you're like, "This is my father figure." And the guy's like, "Whoa, man, I'm just Tuesday nights from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. you know?"
[00:16:48] Josh Peck: Sure.
[00:16:48] Jordan Harbinger: And it sort of screwed up your relationships with that would have been normal and healthy relationships with other guys in your life when you were younger.
[00:16:55] Josh Peck: I love that covert contracts. These people can never live up to these expectations I had of them, A, because they weren't my dad but B, because they were unaware that I had entered them into this agreement. And basically, when you set people up to disappoint you, they always live up to it. And then it begins to inform your opinion on the world in life and the universe, which is like, things will continuously disappoint me. And it furthers that need for, you know, that defense mechanism that basically keeps you isolated and keeps the world at bay.
[00:17:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. For people who've never heard of a covert contract, this is like, where — to use a dating example that I use often. It's like, if you are driving someone to that, let's say, you're driving a woman to the airport. You're a single guy. You're driving your friend to the airport. And like the fourth or fifth time, you're like, "If I just keep doing this, she's eventually going to realize that, you know, I'm the special guy that she can always rely on." And then one day, you drank like five whiskeys and you're like, "Jo, I love you." And she's like, "What the hell? I thought we were friends." And it ruins your relationship, right? Because you were thinking the more I do all this nice stuff for her, the more she's going to realize, I'm the one and you're signing her up for a relationship. So when the details of the covert contract come out, she's unaware of them. That's the covert part, right? And it ruins the relationship.
[00:18:14] So if you're thinking this person is going to be there for me, they're my father figure and they're like, "Dude, I'm your little league coach. I can't remember your last name or your first name," or whatever. You start to think, "Okay. So basically guys that I try to rely on that are all flakes. Like look at my dad, look at my coach, look at my whatever." And it's because aside from your dad, well, even including your dad, I guess in this case, didn't sign up for that. And so they're unable to uphold their end of the bargain that only exists in your head.
[00:18:41] Josh Peck: Yeah, not only that, but like I remember specifically that I just adapted this Tony Montana type approach to all relationships, which was, "I already know that you're going to. So allow me to display how much I never needed you," and to be like this impenetrable, bulletproof sort of entity that really needs no one. And let me tell you, Jordan, that is cute in a relationship. Boy, the women love that. And it wasn't until I met my wife where she really instilled this idea that like family doesn't leave. I had never experienced that. So throughout relationships, we would go through these natural conflicts that arise between two people trying to get along. And I would just head for the hills, basically perpetuating the bad behavior of my father, whom I never met. I mean, what an unfair deal, like I'm literally, I've adapted the bad part of the guy that never had anything to do with me. It's such unfair training.
[00:19:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point. That's interesting when you look at it that way. You mentioned you were a hundred pounds overweight. How big are we talking about when you were a kid?
[00:19:49] Josh Peck: Just a very svelt 300.
[00:19:52] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:19:53] Josh Peck: It's a nice round number. You know five, six, 300.
[00:19:57] Jordan Harbinger: My goodness. Okay, so not nearly, I should say about nearly twice what I weigh now as an adult. Not quite but close.
[00:20:04] Josh Peck: Ooh.
[00:20:04] Jordan Harbinger: And I'm not, I'm not thin, you know, I'm 5'10". I'm guessing you are not, you're 5'6". You were not 5'10". You were 5'6".
[00:20:11] Josh Peck: Well, I was. I'm six feet now, but I was 5'6" then. Yeah.
[00:20:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Well, how old were you? Like 12, 15?
[00:20:16] Josh Peck: I probably — I had always been overweight, but I really put on a lot around 14 — 14 to 17, I was about a hundred pounds overweight, yeah.
[00:20:24] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Wow. So you were — I take it addicted to food or is that just too cliche?
[00:20:29] Josh Peck: No, it's certainly the proper sort of way to categorize it in hindsight. In the immediate, in the time in which I was going through it, I just didn't eat sugar like my fellows but it was my first foray into overdoing things to have a numbing effect on my mind.
[00:20:48] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:20:48] Josh Peck: But we all see it. I mean, you have kids, I have a son. Food is the first thing that there's like this duality too. Right? It's rewarding. If you've finished your plate, then you get more food. It's a birthday thing. It's like, it's used as this reward. And yet, we all know sooner than later that it has diminishing returns like that. You know, it's the same way people say, like, "I'm going to celebrate with a great glass of whiskey or cigar." And it's like, that sounds great, but your body thinks it's poison. And that was sort of my first foray into that. I just remember distinctly going over to friends' houses and thinking, "Why are we only having one fruit snack? Like why are we only having one bag of Gushers when there's five more in that cabinet? And if we're really quiet, there's no way your parents will know that we're getting them. And we can deal with the ramifications later."
[00:21:43] Jordan Harbinger: That certainly sounds like kid-level addiction or medicating with food, maybe a little bit, obsessing over food. And you said this in the book, you said, "Food was either something that you ruthlessly measured and weighed out, or it was something that you just inhaled with reckless abandon." And that's an unhealthy relationship to food, right? by all accounts.
[00:22:02] Josh Peck: Well, unfortunately, my mom being an incredible mother and my model for so many good things, she struggled and still to this day has struggled with food throughout a lot of her life. And she has been on a food plan now for the last, almost 50 years on and off, where—
[00:22:20] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:22:20] Josh Peck: —you weigh and measure your protein, your vegetables, tablespoons of dressing on your salad, like everything. Because for someone like her, food is what drugs and alcohol are to me. And the argument could be made that it's harder because like sex, like food, it's like things that we need in theory, definitely food. And so it's like every day you have to manage out like, "Well, I'm only going to drink one and a half shots of whiskey, and it's also so much more socially acceptable. So I remember witnessing that in an early age that the focus was on food. If we're going to the movies it's cause there's popcorn there. We're going out. We'll grab a slice. Staying in, well, we'll have Chinese delivered. Going to a Yankee game, great, we'll get a hot dog. And inevitably it just, I think it probably seven or eight, I remember thinking like, "Oh, food is a menacing force to the Pecks. Like it is just something that has bared its ugly face for too long," and I knew that I was in its scripts as well.
[00:23:26] Jordan Harbinger: Man, to have that realization that early is, one, very self-aware, but also a little bit, it's almost scary. Because at seven or eight, you should have literally no concerns, right? None. Like you should not be concerned about anything. That's the age where you can not care about literally anything.
[00:23:41] Josh Peck: Not only that, but in the '90s specifically, I remember I would walk into a situation. This is as a chubby eight or nine-year-old and the body positivity era that we live in now is beautiful and necessary. And when I talk in the book, I'm careful to say, like, I'm not talking in hyperbole. I just want people to understand what was going on in my mind. And also that body positivity didn't exist then.
[00:24:04] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:24:04] Josh Peck: I would see this trigger go off in their eyes when I'd walk into a room. And I would think they're going to comment on my weight. And sometimes, I think it was them — I don't know if they were fatphobic or they were just so worried for me that they thought, "Maybe if we shame him, he'll wake up." Like it was this emotionally immature sort of approach to trying to help because I think people didn't know how to help.
[00:24:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. They maybe didn't know how to handle it. I mean, it's rare to see somebody who's that age, who's a hundred pounds overweight. I mean, that's so rare. And your agent gave your mom some pretty brutal advice early on. What did she say?
[00:24:45] Josh Peck: Well, I was — you know, I'm a kid auditioning for commercials at 10 years old.
[00:24:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:24:50] Josh Peck: And I remember hearing my mom call my agent at the time. You know who you are, you know who you are. And she said, "You know, Josh doesn't have a lot of auditions and it seems like his friends have way more than him. Why is that?" And my agent said, "Well, tell him to lose 50 pounds and dye his hair blonde. Oreo is never going to have a fat kid in their commercials."
[00:25:14] Jordan Harbinger: Which is too bad because I mean, you would have been a great spokesman for Oreos and many other types of foods.
[00:25:20] Josh Peck: And believable.
[00:25:21] Jordan Harbinger: And totally credible spokesman for Oreos, yeah.
[00:25:24] Josh Peck: Like you see Mark Walbert to a Wahlburgers commercial. You're like, "Mark, you really eating those? Are you at the Polo Lounge? I mean a Turkey burger."
[00:25:30] Jordan Harbinger: Once on Christmas, yeah.
[00:25:32] Josh Peck: Exactly. At like 2:00 a.m. as he's starting his workout. Shout out, Mark Walberg.
[00:25:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:37] Josh Peck: Yeah. I would have been a perfect spokesman. No sort of snack food. Nabisco would never want the world to think that these foods were caloric grenades on kids' metabolisms.
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay. So you succeeded in acting anyway. So the weight thing didn't stop you, but it seems like it did hold you back from some roles. And it's funny because as I'm reading this note, it looks like my iPhone corrected R-O-L-E-S to R-O-L-L-S. And even my iPhone has a sense of humor, I guess.
[00:26:06] Josh Peck: Hmm, fruity.
[00:26:07] Jordan Harbinger: Speaking of not holding back from roles, have you seen how chubby this kid is?
[00:26:11] Josh Peck: Ayo!
[00:26:11] Jordan Harbinger: Ayo! Yeah, exactly and my iPhone, trying to dip
[00:26:15] Josh Peck: in, you know, I started to have success in this niche sort of thing, especially for — I mean, it wasn't just kids, but like, if you were the funny chubby kid at that time, you played the bully or the best friend, and that was the part you were relegated to. And it did give me confidence. I remember specifically in getting my first sort of big role on the Amanda Show when I was 13 years old on Nickelodeon because I knew I was like, "I'm chubby, funny, and ambitious. You need me, you like this recipe." And I was right.
[00:26:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It was going to ask if your weight had maybe something to do with you developing such a great sense of humor and the ability to perform for others. Our mutual friend, I should say, Lisa Lampanelli talked about this a lot.
[00:26:59] Josh Peck: Oh, yeah.
[00:26:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:27:00] Josh Peck: I think, you know, I say that quote in the book that, "Funny people are usually funny for very unfunny reasons." When I'm around attracted people and sometimes they'll try to go toe to toe with me with jokes. I want to say, "I'm probably funnier than you, but that's okay because I would have given it all up to have your face and to not wear two turtlenecks at the pool." Like, I don't know if funny is born out of any other thing than being in this necessity. Because I see it now, just having like a small amount of quasi-celebrity or being a public person, it's like being attractive and I'll see like, oh, I can usually not have to wait that long at a restaurant if that person knows me. You know, somehow a table surfaces. Or people just tend to give me a smile and say hello on my hikes. And a buddy of mine said like, "Why do people say hi to you?" I'm like, "Well, maybe they watched Drake and Josh or something I did. They're just glad to say good morning." And I think like attracted people get that all the time. So why would you need to sort of accrue this skill in which to sort of — you know, comedy has made the ugly attractive for millennia, so thank God for it. Otherwise, where would I be?
[00:28:20] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Josh Peck. We'll be right back.
[00:28:25] This episode is sponsored in part by Away. I travel often, so my suitcase needs to be easy to roll and sturdy enough to handle all the mileage it gets. I recommend the Away suitcase, which has four 360-degree spinner wheels. So it's basically floating through the airport, even with my backpack attached to the top, it still feels weightless. It also has tons of features like a TSA lock, interior organization system, easy access front pocket for all your miscellaneous crap — like your laptop, passport, cords. I like the flex option, which actually expands in case you buy too much stuff on the trip. Talking about it makes me want to plan a trip just so I can bust this baby out again. All of Away suitcases are designed to last a lifetime. Even more incredible, they encourage you to take the product out on the road. There's a 100-day trial. If you decide it's not for you return any non-personalized item for a full refund, no ifs, ands, or asterisks.
[00:29:13] Jen Harbinger: Start your 100-day trial and shop the entire Away lineup of travel essentials, including their best-selling suitcases at awaytravel.com/jhs. That's awaytravel.com/jordan.
[00:29:25] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Peloton. I add new things to my workout routine to keep it fresh. This keeps me motivated to keep my fitness up day after day. And Peloton is great at pushing you further with so much new on the Peloton bike and Peloton bike plus. New classes, new music to jam to, and so many new ways to keep your workouts fun, like Peloton's boxing. Step into the ring. No gloves needed. The class has me dripping sweat while going through the fundamentals of form, footwork, and combos. It's a lot of fun. I also love discovering music through Peloton. You can turn your workout into a little EDM rave and that's what I'm into anyway. It's easier to stick to your goals as well when you keep your workouts fun and interesting. So I highly recommend doing that. If you're busy, Peloton also has quick workout options. So if you just want a quick 15-minute ride or total body class before work, or maybe you want to de-stress from a long day with 30 minutes of strength and 20 minutes of cardio, Peloton has got you covered.
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[00:30:54] Now back to Josh Peck.
[00:30:57] I wonder how does it feel to get your own TV show while also being in a body that you didn't necessarily feel comfortable with? Like if I'm you back then, I almost feel like I did something wrong going big time, but being successful, right? But in what seems like the wrong body. Like, "No, I was supposed to be good looking and over this crap, by the time, I really hit it big." And like, "I'm glad I'm doing this and it's going well, but I also, why am I in this form right now?" Does that make sense?
[00:31:26] Josh Peck: Yeah. No, it's a great question. I think at 14, because I sort of went on The Amanda Show and six months later, I had my own show. Weirdly, I felt like, okay, this is how it happens. If you're talented and you work hard, you naturally get these great breaks. You know, this good luck that comes your way.
[00:31:46] And to your point, I knew that A, this was saving my mom and I from like, you know, a deep financial insecurity that we went through a lot, which is not new for single parents, but it was my opportunity at 14 to be like, I can help with this. So I was sort of very much running with blinders on but as soon as I lost the weight, I was like, "Let me let go of my origin story. I can't believe all of you are still so obsessed with this guy because I want to let go of it. Why won't you?" Not realizing that they had married themselves to the first image that they fell in love with. It's why Steve Carell will win an Oscar one day but to many people he'll always be Michael Scott, because it's the seminal thing. Like you can't pick your hits. This is why Billy Joel doesn't play Uptown Girl anymore. Like you can't choose what triggers his psych guys,
[00:32:40] Jordan Harbinger: it seems like the sense of shame that comes with what you were just discussing often stops other people, right? It didn't stop you. Kudos for that. But a lot of people would, maybe self-sabotage here, you know? Do you feel like you avoided that?
[00:32:54] Josh Peck: Yeah. I mean, I think I self-sabotage later, but—
[00:32:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:57] Josh Peck: Yeah, because it was when I was in a flow and I'm making people laugh I might as well have been a division one varsity basketball player. I might as well have been Tom Brady in my own mind. Like everything fell away. So it afforded me so much confidence. Like I knew I was great at this one thing. Unfortunately, it's one of the most public things you can do. And if you're insecure about your body in that moment, I think it can sort of wreak havoc on your psyche.
[00:33:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think that's for sure true. And it totally makes sense. At least, it wasn't a reality show. So you've got that going for you. That would have been way worse. Speaking of our social media thing at the top of the show, do you then feel like maybe you wouldn't have been able to do TV or at least maybe not as funny if you had lost weight, right? Because Chris Farley was Chris Farley in part because he was a big dude, right?
[00:33:47] Josh Peck: Yeah. I mean, I think the big, funny guy, it triggers something in people's heads. Like they just know like going in, you see that person get up on stage — you know, I remember that first scene in Bridesmaids when you see Melissa McCarthy come on screen, and it's also the way she's dressed and just what a brilliant performer she is. But I remember hearing the giggle start in the movie theater and she hadn't even uttered anything. Because it was like, somehow people's brains were triggering of like, "This is going to be good," right? We know this, we've seen this in great performers who were reminiscent of what she was projecting at that time.
[00:34:22] And so, yeah, like I was part of an equation that were the good-looking, you know, straight man to the funny fat guy and to lose weight would be to threaten that. And people told me that for a long time, they were like, "You know, you're part of a pool of four or five guys. If you lose weight, you're going to be auditioning against Jake Gyllenhaal. Good luck." And not that I do, but like, you're going audition against a thousand guys that just look—
[00:34:50] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:34:51] Josh Peck: —average. But I knew deep down because of how much I'd wanted to lose weight my whole life, that I was willing to give it all up if it meant that I could be a healthy way.
[00:35:02] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. Yeah. That's interesting. We have this in common and I heard you used television as an escape from your life. And like I said, I did that too. I learned so much about humor and delivery and timing from television and people are like, "Oh, you're naturally funny on the show." I'm like, "Naturally? Try hundreds of hours of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Perfect Strangers, TGIF comedies on Friday with Steve Urkel, the Full House, all that stuff is at this point, hardwired into my brain.
[00:35:34] Josh Peck: Yeah. And also for someone like you, you're a great student, right? Like you're really, really smart.
[00:35:40] Jordan Harbinger: I appreciate that.
[00:35:41] Josh Peck: Like, I don't think that's anything new for your listeners, but I remember I asked my buddy Danny Chun who created this show I did called Grandfathered with John Stamos and he's a Harvard guy and incredibly talented writer, showrunner. And I said, "What is that secret sauce with the National Lampoon and like just those Harvard guys that are so damn funny?" And he said, "You know, half of them are intrinsically, naturally funny. And half of them have gained funny." Like they've learned like the way that music is math. Like they just learn the rhythms after studying it enough that they can like recreate it. But if you got them in small talk on the street, they probably couldn't make you laugh. In fact, you'd probably think they were slightly awkward, but they just get it. And so I think both can be true. You can have someone like Tracy Morgan, who probably, literally, was born with God's hand on him saying like, "And you are anointed," and you can also just be a great student of comedy.
[00:36:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. I was like a quick-witted kid, even in elementary school, I would just be — and it's because I was watching comedy game tape for hours every day as an only child with two working parents. Like my company, when I got back home was the television and I wasn't really into cartoons, right? I was watching like adult comedy stuff that my parents were like, "This isn't even funny." And I'm like, "Yeah, it is," right? And I watched reruns of it and I've watched so much — I mean, from Diff'rent Strokes on up, and you know what I'm talking about with different strokes, yeah?
[00:37:09] Josh Peck: Oh my god, it was the best. And yeah, I say like TV was my hobby. It was my babysitter. It was my teacher. I left it on at night so that I didn't feel like I was alone, that the room would never get dark.
[00:37:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:21] Josh Peck: I didn't know through osmosis that I was sort of putting in my 10,000 hours. I just thought this is a great escape. And especially with sitcoms, you learn what the rhythms of funny.
[00:37:33] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:37:33] Josh Peck: And it's a sound — I think there's this ultra famous TV sitcom director named Jim Burrows, who's directed thousands of episodes of sitcoms and TV. I heard this and it might be an urban legend, but I'm pretty sure it's true, that sometimes he would just listen to the take. He wouldn't even watch it because he could tell by the sound of it, whether or not the jokes were landing.
[00:37:57] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. That makes total sense, right? Because mostly you're hearing it in almost doesn't matter what the person looks like, unless they're like not looking at the right direction or something like that. Even then, you're right, it really is all about what it sounds like, I suppose.
[00:38:11] Josh Peck: It's music and you know, with drama, you can go. I was a Denzel guy this year. I thought he deserved the Oscar for Macbeth. I like Will Smith or I like whomever like—
[00:38:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Will Smith was great at the Oscars this year. Everybody was talking—
[00:38:24] Josh Peck: Wow.
[00:38:24] Jordan Harbinger: —about Will Smith at the Oscars this year.
[00:38:25] Josh Peck: I'm telling you what a moment — what a moment.
[00:38:29] Jordan Harbinger: Honestly, I thought it was fake. I'm not even sure. I still, I'm still on the fence as to whether that was fake, somehow.
[00:38:36] Josh Peck: The comedian, Yannis Pappas said, "The slap of the Oscars is Hollywood's 9/11."
[00:38:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. I guess that's probably — that's so ridiculous, but it's totally appropriate. Yeah.
[00:38:50] Josh Peck: We can't get over it.
[00:38:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:51] Josh Peck: Yeah. It's fascinating. But comedy is like music, right? You don't have to be a musician to know that's in the wrong note. That didn't sound right. Similarly with comedy, like if it doesn't get a laugh, if it doesn't trigger something, there's no debating it. It didn't work. Colin Quinn has a great quote. Like, comedy is the closest thing to justice. And Chris Rock says that it's like boxing and every punchline is a punch. It's a point. And I liked sort of the justice to it, how clear a win was.
[00:39:23] Jordan Harbinger: So you started comedy on stage when you were 11 doing stand-up. How does an 11-year-old kid do stand up? Like you sort of touched on this earlier. How did you even get into the club? They serve alcohol there. This sounds illegal.
[00:39:38] Josh Peck: It was, it must've been. So there was a magazine called Backstage Magazine, which was the ultimate sort of actors magazine in New York. And they had classifieds in the back. And I don't know, at nine years old, how this was in my possession, but I see this ad for Sid Gold at Goldstar Entertainment, "We represent comedians of all ages." And I was like, "Sid, I am of all ages. Let's party." And I show up at his office with my mom. And he said, "You know, I rep kid comedians. So if you can get five minutes, I'll get you up at Caroline's Comedy Club." So I proceed to steal jokes I've heard my mom tell over the years. I make fun of kids at school. I do impressions. And I did five minutes at two o'clock in the afternoon at Caroline's Comedy Club in New York. And that was it. And suddenly, I'm meeting different promoters and meeting different people. And they're like, "Listen, there's something about you. And if anything, you're like, I don't know, like a bearded lady, like there's a freak show aspect to you."
[00:40:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:39] Josh Peck: "So, you know, we'll give you five minutes," but because I had this tight five, eventually it was about nine minutes, but I knew it worked. And I wasn't like the comedians I would watch every night who were kind of figuring out on stage because I couldn't do crowd work. I had no references. So I go up, usually do pretty damn well. And, you know, go home that night and do my fractions homework.
[00:41:06] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. I'm trying to picture this, right? Because you mentioned you couldn't do crowd work you had no references. Of course not. I mean, what is your material? You're 11. I'm imagining you go up there like, "Legos, folks, am I right?" Like, what are you talking about?
[00:41:19] Josh Peck: What's the deal with Pokemon?
[00:41:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, right, if not even more irrelevant because at least adults know what that is. An 11-year-old comedian now is going to be like Minecraft jokes and Fortnite material rich. And it's going to be a weird crowd.
[00:41:33] Josh Peck: I made fun of my mom's menopause. I remember seeing that and going, "Yeah, this works. Like this is outrageous." And, you know, having a single mom, being an only child, it wasn't like I could be playing with my siblings while my mom is having a hot flash. Like I saw it straight up and she was an older parent. So I'm like, there's something hilarious about this. That literally it's 32 degrees in New York and my mom's schvitzing.
[00:41:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:41:59] Josh Peck: This is worth talking about. I'm trying to think of what was — oh, and this was one of my hackey great jokes when I was a chubby kid. So I said, "You know, in school, I major in entomology, the study of Entenmann's."
[00:42:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:12] Josh Peck: Which was like an East Coast pastry, like that you'd find at the grocery store.
[00:42:16] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, we have them in Michigan, too. I don't know if we have them out here in California, but I remember growing up in Michigan and my parents would buy those like mini donuts, the white ones.
[00:42:23] Josh Peck: Oh, the best.
[00:42:24] Jordan Harbinger: And I'm like, how are these still fresh? And the answer is they're delivered all the time and also probably a crap load of preservatives but they tasted good for like a week and a half. That's not right. That ain't right.
[00:42:34] Josh Peck: So good, going down.
[00:42:36] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah.
[00:42:37] Josh Peck: Forget your troubles, come on, get Entenmann's.
[00:42:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's right.
[00:42:40] Josh Peck: And so immediately, what does that trigger for the audience like, oh, this is a self-aware 11-year-old who knows that he's chubby and is ready to make, you know, sort of poke fun. And by the next year, I was doing standup on Conan O'Brien and The Rosie O'Donnell Show and sort of like, I was off to the races.
[00:42:56] Jordan Harbinger: That's so crazy that must've been so wild. I mean, did you have any element of stage fright? Like, "Okay. Tomorrow, you're going on Conan," and you're like, "Okay," or were you like, "Oh my god, so many people are going to see this. I don't know if I can handle it again.
[00:43:10] Josh Peck: Again, I think it was great that I had — I knew that I was this anomaly.
[00:43:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:15] Josh Peck: And so amongst my peers, it wasn't like, "Oh, I'm one of a thousand." It's like, "Of the three or four kid comedians I know in New York, I'm the best one." So I had a good amount of confidence, I think.
[00:43:27] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:43:27] Josh Peck: I lost it. You know, once I got to my teens but during that time, I was like, yeah, I know what I'm doing.
[00:43:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's really interesting and amazing because I think I would have immediate panic attack if I was supposed to go on Conan O'Brien and be funny with Conan.
[00:43:42] Josh Peck: No, the panic attacks were normal life stuff, like talking to a girl.
[00:43:47] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah, join the club.
[00:43:49] Josh Peck: This weird thing that was specific to me, I was like, this is my scale. This is where I shine. And I certainly wasn't going out popping buttons, but it was like—
[00:43:57] Jordan Harbinger: Popping buttons? Was that?
[00:43:58] Josh Peck: You know, where like your chest is out and you're super confident.
[00:44:01] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I see. I see. Got you.
[00:44:03] Josh Peck: It wasn't ego. It just was like, I felt very capable.
[00:44:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:08] Josh Peck: I practiced it a lot. I wanted to be great and I would sort of try to mimic those other great performance, but I totally — there were certainly moments where even at 12, the fact that I was up there wasn't enough. Like where I totally bombed and was like, "Ooh, I don't want to feel this." This is the ugly side of what I do. And it was probably because I had some extra nerves or I didn't think that bid out completely.
[00:44:33] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. That's an interesting lesson to learn, especially at that age. Okay. So you get your shot at Nickelodeon through a lot of hard work and a few lucky breaks, I guess, you'd probably concur with that. Right? And you end up on your own show, which you say, "Hey, this is my high school experience," which is really interesting, right? Drake & Josh, four years of that show was your high school, essentially. And during that time, did you realize, "Holy crap, I'm on a hit TV show," or was it just like, "This is my regular life, just like other kids go to school and sit in math class all day. This is my life."
[00:45:06] Josh Peck: You know, I remember when I moved to LA because I'd been going to performing arts high school and working as an actor. So they were very sensitive to, that you had to leave, that you had to do, you know, your schoolwork onset. And I moved to LA and I'm doing this show and I'm also trying to go to Beverly Hills High School. And they quickly were like, even though it was Beverly Hills, and you would think that they were very adept at this, they were like, "This is ridiculous. You can't be out three weeks out of the month on this TV show. We're not going to send you work. You have to choose." And I remember that being a pretty quick line in the sand.
[00:45:43] Jordan Harbinger: You can either come here and get picked on every day and sit in classes or you can go and be on — well, you can be a world famous kid on Nickelodeon and get paid. Which one is it?
[00:45:52] Josh Peck: I could not have said it better myself, Jordan. I was like, "There is no choice here." And yeah, so I quickly was like, "Okay, got it, yeah, I'm not going to college." I remember at 14, I was like, "That's it."
[00:46:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:03] Josh Peck: Like, okay, I'm all in. It's a bit of a misnomer. And I always feel like a little bit compelled to correct sort of this idea that, they're like, "What was it like at the height of that show?" And I'm like, "No one watch it." It was watched by 12 year olds and it was on a kids network. So a lot of my life was I got to do this incredibly cool job that I was proud of doing the kind of comedy I love. And then at five o'clock in the afternoon, I'd go home and play hockey with my buddy at our apartment complex and live this ultra normal life. It's only been because of reruns and the fact that Nickelodeon doesn't pay residuals and like — or kids TV, I should say, not just Nickelodeon — but because it's rerun so much and Internet culture that the last 10 years has felt like it has been the most prominent.
[00:46:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I saw you on Reddit. Someone posted on Reddit that you were doing something and it was like on the Reddit front page. And I was like, "Wow. Okay. There's Josh on the Reddit front page." And I've read the comments going, "Okay, this is going to be horrible, but I'm going to take a look, anyway." And everybody was so nice. They were like, "I love that he's succeeding. I like this guy. Oh, I grew up with him. I'm so glad that this wasn't one of those articles where he like got arrested," and all these people were like, "Oh my god, I'm so glad I clicked on this. And it wasn't him dying." You know, people love you, man.
[00:47:20] Josh Peck: It's nice. I mean, sometimes I'll search my name on Twitter because I'm self-centered and bored.
[00:47:25] Jordan Harbinger: Oh god, that's a bad idea.
[00:47:27] Josh Peck: I mean, there's certainly people that aren't as much of a fan, but overall, and I think it's that level of vulnerability and honesty that I haven't always wanted to be that vulnerable, but I just couldn't help it. Like I didn't hide my struggles. And I think the fact that I was honest about it, I think endeared me to people because we're so used to seeing these curated images of these public celebrities who were just like The Rock crushes it nonstop and always.
[00:47:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:54] Josh Peck: I hope I can be the more approachable rock. That's what I'm going for, Jordan.
[00:47:58] Jordan Harbinger: That's what you're going for? Yeah, I think you're really close.
[00:48:01] Josh Peck: Buy my energy drink.
[00:48:02] Jordan Harbinger: You said, and I love this by the way, "Being a kid actor is kind of like doing porn. You can be successful and make money doing it, but then after that, what the hell are you supposed to do? Tell me about that.
[00:48:14] Josh Peck: Yeah. I think for every Zendaya, or, you know, he's gone through his challenges, but I think he's one of our greatest actor Shia LaBeouf, or what have you — look, there's thousands of people that inform and perpetuate the collective opinion that if you're a kid actor, you're going to wind up burnout and you're dealing with that. You know, if you're on Stranger Things, let's just say, not only is it sort of like accepted as like just because you're a kid doesn't mean that you're not talented or that you're only relegated to like kids TV, but you also have this immediate currency, which is 30 million followers on Instagram. So you have this thing that you can bring your audience with you to your next job, but you couldn't do that in 2005.
[00:49:00] Jordan Harbinger: That's a really good point. You had to be a major star, major, major for them to give a crap about who likes you in the last thing that you did, probably. Right?
[00:49:10] Josh Peck: Right. And it was also just, people had a knee-jerk reaction that Disney and Nickelodeon TV was a specific type of sort of broad, sticky kiddie acting. And that most of those kids go into people who just assume that the red carpet is going to be rolled out for them. They didn't do the work. They're not real actors and they can't hang as a grownup. And you're facing a lot of that challenge and those sorts of preconceived notions. And I knew that intimately at 19, I knew that I had my work cut out for me.
[00:49:44] Jordan Harbinger: What a kid actors make? You mentioned there's no residuals. Tell us what those are. I think a lot of people don't know what that means.
[00:49:49] Josh Peck: Basically, it's this idea that if you're on a network, it sort of ended, or it's not as prevalent now with streaming, but on a network TV show, whether it goes a hundred episodes or not, and that's when it sort of enters the next tier, but that the network that has made your TV show is selling the show to other territories, selling reruns so that you will get basically like a part of that money, the sales price. And it can be, you know, a couple hundred bucks. It can be thousands. It can be millions of you're Seinfeld. But all things considered with a show like mine that has been rerun so much, you would assume that I think, or at least I think people assumed, over the years, millions of dollars was made from this work I did 15 years ago.
[00:50:35] Jordan Harbinger: And it was, just not by you.
[00:50:36] Josh Peck: It was. That's a great point.
[00:50:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So essentially, if you are in Germany or Canada or wherever Belarus, and you're watching Drake & Josh reruns from 10, 20 years ago, whatever it is, you, Josh are not getting paid for that even if the German television network paid $500,000 to Nickelodeon—
[00:50:57] Josh Peck: Sure.
[00:50:58] Jordan Harbinger: —to air the series, right? You're getting none of that. Nickelodeon's taking all of that. And that was just what, like a feature of contracts in the '90s, basically.
[00:51:07] Josh Peck: Yeah, it was before it was an after a contract, which was a union because some people might know the major sort of union for actors as a Screen Actors Guild and they negotiate all these things. Since then after, and the Screen Actors Guild have merged into one sort of umbrella sort of union, but back then is was after, which was a smaller sort of just less prolific union. So they didn't have the same bargaining rights. And I never wanted to sound like I'm complaining the reason why I sort of feel the need to inform people is that — it was funny on Twitter the other day, this woman was yelling at me because I talked about that we made about a hundred thousand dollars a year on Drake & Josh.
[00:51:48] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. What does that work out to per episode? Like 10 grand or something like that?
[00:51:52] Josh Peck: A little less after like sort of agency fees and taxes and managers. She's like, "Well, I make half of that working with kids. So what are you complaining about?" And I said, "Listen, far be it for me to make the argument that you shouldn't be making more money. You absolutely should. And your job is much more important than mine, but I'm just correcting, no one thinks that you are making a million dollars a year working with kids, but people thought that I was making a million dollars a year." So I just felt the need to sort of correct that idea only because I felt as though growing up, or especially in my 20s, if people would see me doing a job because I needed to make money for my rent or doing something that wasn't considered like the coolest or dopest. They were like, "Oh, what did you do? Squander your money. Oh, you're one of those kids." But I was like, "No, there was no money left. Like it was a middle-class lifestyle." And when the show ended, I had a year of runway, but I had to get back to work.
[00:52:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You do see a lot of people shaming, former Hollywood stars. There was one a while ago. It was an adult and they were like, "He's bagging groceries at Trader Joe's." And it was like some guy.
[00:52:59] Josh Peck: Yeah.
[00:52:59] Jordan Harbinger: I can't remember who it was.
[00:53:00] Josh Peck: From the Cosby Show.
[00:53:01] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Okay. Yeah. And it was just cruel and everyone was like, "How dare you make fun of this guy?" And then there was a GoFundMe for this guy because I guess he had spent a lot of the money, but it was also like, "Dude, the Cosby Show was decades ago," and the guy didn't do anything after that or much after that. And it was that's the way it was. And they're like, "How did this guy not retire and live in Barbados forever?"
[00:53:23] Josh Peck: Yeah. I mean, our opinion is informed by the one percent of actors that are in our face at all times. But the reality is, is like, and I'm incredibly lucky because I'm part of that five percent of Screen Actors Guild members who can make their sole living just acting, but 95 percent, like hundreds of thousands of members of the Screen Actors Guild cannot make their sole living acting. And so, if you see that guy at the supermarket or what have you, like, it might just be that, maybe they didn't sort of have this gigantic fall or flame out. Maybe they're just in between jobs and they're figuring it out. And it's a thing that they love and they do these other things to subsidize them still going after their passion.
[00:54:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's a good point. It's kind of hard to go, "I'm going to go back to accounting for three months between jobs." It's like, you have to get a job that will hire you for three months and being a CPA or whatever is not going to do that. So yeah, if you end up working at a grocery store, it totally makes it or doing manual labor. It's actually pretty flexible. I would imagine or driving Uber, whatever it is, right? It's actually kind of ideal other than a-hole's shaming you on the Internet, anyway.
[00:54:29] Josh Peck: Yeah, no, and I always say that too, like the problem with, I shouldn't say the problem, but the reality is, is that when you become a public person, your ego is such that no one, almost no one leaves on their own accord, right? Like whenever you see someone who had a really big moment and you're like, "Why has he been making these like B movies last 20 years? Or he seems to always be on some reality show." And I'm like, "Because they weren't willing to go to Dallas and be a real estate agent, because he didn't want to be the guy from that thing. They didn't want to be like, hear that whisper, like, "Why is he showing a pre-fab condo? Like wasn't he on Netflix a few years ago?" Like most people's ego cannot take that. I am the other hand loved Dallas and I love, I love selling homes.
[00:55:10] Jordan Harbinger: Pre-fab condos. Yeah, exactly. All right. How did you get into drugs and alcohol? What age were you first of all and take us through this?
[00:55:20] Josh Peck: So I lose a hundred pounds. I'm the same head in a new body and now I need a new medicine because food's not there anymore. And so when I discovered drugs and alcohol, A, I was like, "Wow, this is so much more efficacious than food." Much less calorie dense, unless you're drinking piña coladas. And who doesn't love a delicious Highland beverage?
[00:55:40] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:55:42] Josh Peck: Jordan, you big piña guy.
[00:55:43] Jordan Harbinger: Look, I will house pña coladas. Yes. Typically not during the week. They're more of a vacation thing for me, but yeah, I can drink them until I wake up and regret drinking them. How's that?
[00:55:53] Josh Peck: You know what's the best chaser to a piña colada is?
[00:55:55] Jordan Harbinger: Another piña colada
[00:55:56] Josh Peck: Insulin.
[00:55:57] Jordan Harbinger: Insulin, probably, also true.
[00:56:03] Josh Peck: So there's that where I'm like, "Wow, this works beautifully." I like it to that I felt like I traded a Prius for a Ferrari with no brakes. Like you'll probably still get to where you're going, but you might die in the process. And then also, I was 18, and feeling totally wonderfully typical to go, you know, as a callback to what we first started talking about like I had spent so much of my life, so worried about the next job and being able to support my mom and our family. You know, don't mess up because you'll ruin your career. And now, I'm like 18 feeling, I had so much to make up for and that I was just being like a typical college-age kid doing college-age sh*t.
[00:56:48] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Josh Peck. We'll be right back.
[00:56:52] This episode is sponsored in part by Impact by Interactive Brokers. Earth day is a good reminder about what's at stake and to be conscious about where you invest your money, including your investment portfolio. Impact is an app by Interactive Brokers, which by the way was rated number one online broker of 2021. The Impact app is the first trading app that allows you to easily find and invest in companies making a positive change for the planet. So once you sign up, you just choose which values are important to you. For me, it's things like clean air, ocean life, fair labor, flied business practices you'd like to avoid, like hazardous waste and tobacco. Your portfolio will show an Impact score with a few easy taps, you can optimize it to match what matters most to you. The user interface they've got is really easy to use and you can visually and easily identify socially responsible investments.
[00:57:37] Jen Harbinger: Invest in the future of the planet with Impact by Interactive Brokers. Download the app today and use code JORDAN to get $30 of stock credit. That's $30 of stock credit with code JORDAN. For more information about the Impact app and its features along with where and how to download, please visit the show notes. Interactive Brokers member SIPC.
[00:57:56] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Progressive insurance. Hey, Bingers, whether you love true crime or comedies, celebrity interviews, news, or even motivational speakers, you call the shots and what's in your podcast queue, right? And guess what? Now, you can call the shots on your auto insurance too. Enter the name-your-price tool from Progressive. The name-your-price tool puts you in charge of your auto insurance by working just the way it sounds. You tell Progressive how much you want to pay for car insurance. They'll show you a variety of coverage that fits your budget, giving you options. That's something you're going to want to press play on. It's easy to start a quote and you'll be able to choose the best option for you fast. It's just one of many ways you can save with Progressive insurance. Quote today at progressive.com to try the name-your-price tool for yourself and join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
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[00:59:05] Now for the rest of my conversation with Josh Peck.
[00:59:10] I wonder if you felt like, "Hey, I've been working my whole life, maybe a little bit of reckless behavior. It's not going to be that bad. You know, I've been so responsible losing all this weight and having worked all through high school." I mean, was there that feeling or was it really not that well calculated?
[00:59:24] Josh Peck: No, I think it was 100 percent there. And whenever I see like someone who was obviously very clearly the nerd in high school and they like have a big moment, a great comedy special, or some like big movie or TV show they're in, I'm like, "Just watch how many people they're going to start dating." Like there is that impetus of like, "Got to make up for lost times. I'll show them." And it sort of led to my downfall.
[00:59:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Now, that makes sense. There's a couple incidence in the book. I'm not going to make you go through all of them, but there was a little bit of a — I'd say drunk escapade in Beverly Hills where people surrounded your car. It was a particularly cringe one if you want to go through that to give people a picture.
[01:00:03] Josh Peck: Oh, that, that old thing. Yeah. I mean, I basically, from the moment I tried drugs and alcohol, when I was 18, I didn't take a sober breath for almost four years and I wasn't under the influence per se. I was just out of my mind. I woke up early one morning and I'm driving into Beverly Hills. And I just was so sort of a radically driving in my own world had been living this life now for a couple of years. That suddenly, when I get to a stoplight, I see this guy get out and he's banging on my window and he's screaming at me, "Get out of your car. "And I was like, "What kind of pirates do they have in Beverly Hills? This is ridiculous." You know, I call the governor. And I do not get out of my car, but I decided that, well, I'm just going to drive around this guy. And then other cars try to box me in as I'm trying to sort of evade this guy. And so finally I realized, "Well, it seems like everyone in their cars is in on it too." You know, maybe there's some attack against child stars in general. I'll just drive over the lawn of the Beverly Hills hotel and get to safety, which I do. And in that moment, I go, "Well, it would behoove me to alert the authorities."
[01:01:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[01:01:10] Josh Peck: Because what if Zack and Cody are driving down a similar canyon and these gang of pirates go after them. I call the police and they say, "What kind of car are you in, sir?" And I go, "I'm in a black BMW. I'm doing well." And they say, "We've just gotten seven calls about you. Pull your car over immediately. We have officers in route," and I sort of hang up the phone and go, "Oh, I should probably get out of Beverly Hills." They are known for having a very capable police department. And I basically get back into the valley, which is LA County. I'm like, "There's not going to be any police here. I know that for sure." But basically, I had just been driving so radically, like the night before I had been obviously doing some things, but this was the morning. I was so not in my right mind and so oblivious to what was going on around me, that this was like my first in a series of a couple of terrible moments like this, right? Where I felt that punch of reality, realizing that I was in these dangerous situations and it was only going to get worse.
[01:02:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. You say that you mixed up being high with being alive, right? High Josh was normal Josh, and it sort of just felt really normal, like you'd mentioned earlier. That's a really scary place to be and dangerous a dangerous place to be.
[01:02:23] Josh Peck: Yeah. I mean, I think I like in that too, I've heard it once said in some 12-set meetings, I wasn't trying to drink or use to kill myself. I was trying to kill that part of me that wouldn't let me live, right? That sh*tty committee, that voice that woke up a few minutes before me every day and told me why nothing was going to work out and why I was never enough. So as a warning to anyone who, you know, might feel like they're slightly identifying with my story if when you ingest drugs and alcohol, you feel more like yourself — the moment, I did that. I took this deep breath that I'd always been searching for.
[01:03:00] I remember this insidious thought coming over me, thinking, "Wow, if this is possible, why would you ever want to feel any other way?" And it didn't feel like an acid trip. It didn't feel like what I imagined, I don't know, ketamine or something like ultra hallucinogenic feels like. I felt like I dropped into myself. I felt confident. I felt attractive. I felt funny. And I didn't have all of that bad sort of feedback. That was constantly following me around all the time.
[01:03:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:03:27] Josh Peck: That's a dangerous revelation to have because you know, you'll quickly make that drug or that drink sort of your God.
[01:03:34] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that is a scary place to be. I wonder if you gravitated toward the profession of acting and this is 20/20 hindsight, right? Did you gravitate towards the profession of acting because maybe you were craving love from anywhere, even if it was from random strangers watching you through a television? Like, was there an element of that? Not that your mom didn't care about you a lot, but the father element was missing.
[01:03:55] Josh Peck: Yeah. Maybe. I mean, I want it to be acknowledged being great at something, and I make the joke in the book like — and I don't think that it's a coincidence that I picked the thing where your acknowledgment or your validation comes in like massive gigantic waves from, you know, hopefully, hundreds of thousands or millions of people. Like I'm sure the greatest dentist in the world wouldn't mind a couple more Instagram followers, but yeah, I think that it was synonymous with this idea of accruing love and also deep fantasy. Like I think I also love those sitcoms we talked about growing up because it was family. It was something I wasn't growing up with.
[01:04:35] That appealed to me. I liked this idea of losing myself in someone else's world. I don't mean to gender it, but growing up in my experience, it seemed like on the schoolyard, the boys were playing sports and the girls were playing more of the fantasy games where there was like, "I'm going to be the mom and she'll be the older sister. And we're going to play like this like sort of version of the house," or whatever it was. I always, I was like, "I want to be the misunderstood older brother," because I wanted to mimic what I saw on TV.
[01:05:03] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny that you even had the concept of that at that age. What's it like losing all that weight in front of the whole world, because you lost that weight during the filming of Drake & Josh over those four years, right? So you lose like, was it a hundred pounds or was it more?
[01:05:18] Josh Peck: Yeah, I went from 300 pounds to 170 pounds.
[01:05:22] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh. So you lose like 130 pounds and you do this all while on the set of Drake & Josh. So theoretically, hundreds of thousands/millions of people watched you do this in near real-time.
[01:05:34] Josh Peck: Yeah. I went from wearing literal man Spanx. That was like, I'd wear a tank top when I was 16 to sort of go from looking like a muffin top to like a overstuff bag of bread, to feel confident in my own skin to literally becoming so thin that people were worried. In many ways, it was the best because, you know, constantly I would run into people who were like, "Oh my god, you look so great." And I just felt like, ugh. And I'd gotten in right before the buzzer, right? Because I was like, I know that I've sort of given up some of my teenage years because I was deeply insecure and I didn't feel comfortable going to parties or dating or all the normal things of adolescents, but I still have so much life left to live. And I did it like, you know, I'm 18, but I think people also had this visceral reaction of, "We fell in love with this guy and you took him from us. And stop trying so hard," or, "You were funnier when you were fat."
[01:06:30] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[01:06:31] Josh Peck: It wasn't the majority, but it was a good percentage.
[01:06:34] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. I would imagine the public reaction would be mixed, but you'd think it would be mostly positive, which I guess it was. I can see some people getting a little bit upset about that because anytime somebody changes for the better, even in your group of friends, you have these reactions where people who haven't changed and also need to change are suddenly faced with the idea — it's like, you just highlighted the fact that it's possible and that makes people angry.
[01:07:01] The famous example is sort of Oprah, right? She talks about how her friends started to get angry with her when she started to lose the weight and they would be almost kind of teasing her back into regaining it. And we see this in our own lives, you know, somebody stops drinking so much. And our friends who party a lot of like, "Oh, what are you a square now? You're so boring. Now you don't want to do crack." You know, they'll try and bring you back in because what you're doing, not only are you less interesting for them, of course, in that addiction sort of way, but let's say that you're just overweight. Now, they're going, "Oh, so if he can do it, I can do it. But I don't feel like I have the strength to do it. And that's making me feel bad. So instead of trying to take inspiration from that, I'm going to make him feel like crap and try to get him back to where he was so that I am more comfortable with who I am," and that's dangerous, right? those people.
[01:07:51] Josh Peck: And so well said, it's very slogany but it applies. Like maybe you don't like the new me because you're still the old you.
[01:07:58] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah. That's true.
[01:08:00] Josh Peck: And I think that someone in these interviews had brought up and I thought it was a good point of like, usually we watch these movie stars, like The Rock or Chris Hemsworth, or what have you and they're so the one percent of body type that it can feel slightly intimidating, even though we love them. And, you know, and we also ask them to be that way, right? We come to expect it almost. And when someone is the antithesis of that, and okay with being so public, a lot of people like that, they don't have to feel intimidated by them. They don't have to think about themselves because like, yeah, there's somebody who looks like me doing great. So it's possible. So yeah, in a weird way, like I became — I don't know if intimidating is the right word — but I think I threatened that sort of comfort that people got from watching me.
[01:08:47] Jordan Harbinger: You screen your film at Sundance and you get a standing ovation. How did you feel after that? Because a part of me is like, "Wow, congratulations. You must've felt so awesome." And another part of me that has been in at least one of your shoes is like, "I bet you still felt like crap after that," right? Secretly.
[01:09:04] Josh Peck: Totally. I mean, okay, so I'll tell the story. So at 19, I've finished Drake & Josh, I love acting and all I ever wanted — I didn't want to be special or a movie star or extraordinary. I just wanted to be an actor amongst actors. I didn't want to be a child star. I didn't want to be the funny fat guy, just a utility actor, a journeyman. So I wind up booking this movie called The Wackness, which for anyone who hasn't seen it, it's about a kid in 1994 in New York who loves hip-hop, who trades weed for therapy from a drug-riddled, eccentric, but loving therapist played by Sir Ben Kingsley, my favorite actor. So I auditioned for this part. And at this time, I was constantly going against Michael Cera, Jonah Hill. And I would see them walk into an audition room and I go, "Have fun guys, you're going to kill it on this one. I'm not going to even audition." But this part in particular, playing this drug-addled, New York kid, lover of hip-hop, I said, "I might know how to do this best."
[01:10:01] And I booked the part with my favorite actor and we make this movie and it's good and people are liking it. And it gets into Sundance. And I had been at Sundance at 16 with a movie saying, "One day I will start a movie here and I'll be back here as like the star of something." And it came true. And so they do this screening at the Equus theater, which is like the biggest sort of theater in Sundance and Quentin Tarantino's there. I mean, it's like, it makes no sense. And then I remember the credits start rolling and my manager whispers in my ear. He goes, "They're standing," and I turn around and people are on their feet giving this like standing ovation. I was just like, "Oh, my god, like I tried drugs, I tried food. Maybe prestige will fix me." I went to bed that night and I think subconsciously I assumed that I would wake up the next morning and the old Josh would be gone. And I would just be this new Josh who made it.
[01:10:59] And I woke up and was greeted by my old self. That was never going anywhere. My true self, me. And I was like, "Oh, no." And I remember that moment thinking you're bottomless, like confirmed my worst suspicion that no matter how many attractive people I went on dates with no matter how much food or drugs or alcohol or great parts I tried to fill that hole in the soul with it never was going to be enough. And I said, "I got to get out of here." And I remember the people there, the producers, the people who worked on the movie were like, "Are you nuts? This never happens. Like, stay, enjoy this." I was like, "I got to go. I got to get out of here." And that happened at coincide with — that day, Peter Travers, who's a famous movie reviewer for Rolling Stone Magazine. He wanted to interview me and everyone was like, "This is a big deal. If you like some movie, it's really going to help people to see it."
[01:11:54] So I'm being interviewed in about 10 minutes into the interview. The producer stops the interview and says, "Peter, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I want you to know that Heath Ledger just died." And a week before that Brad Renfro, another great young actor in his 20s had passed away. And both of them from an overdose. And I didn't know these guys other than being a massive fan of them, but I was immediately struck by the tone in the room and how certain people fell to tears and people were so affected by this. And I think that along with the reality of realizing that I was bottomless, sort of led me to two weeks later, getting sober.
[01:12:29] Jordan Harbinger: That hits hard. I mean, Heath Ledger dying hit a lot of folks hard and it makes sense that you were messing with all that stuff. Probably thinking, well, what's the worst that can happen. And then it's like, "By the way, here's the worst that can happen," like right in your face, but also right at the peak of your success where you probably felt or would have in theory have felt the most invincible.
[01:12:49] Josh Peck: At that age, you think anyone who's two years older than you is a grownup.
[01:12:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:12:53] Josh Peck: But he was maybe five years older than me. I mean, it wasn't much, and he was just crushing it so hard, but I think it also broke down that illusion I had, which many addicts have, which is I'm only hurting myself. When in reality we become so nuclear that we radiate anyone who is dumb enough not to walk away. I don't mean to say that in a negative way. You know, we radiate everyone who loves us and seeing these people in this room, these publicists, these assistants who were like emotionally, like so hurt that Heath had passed away and they didn't know him personally, either. I was like, "Oh my god, like, we have an effect on people. This isn't just a one-man-band.
[01:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: "Getting sober allowed me to see how much work I needed to do on myself. You never truly see the damage until the rain stops pouring." So well said, from the book, obviously not something I just made up. This is really pointed because I think that a lot of people think, okay, you're out of your addiction, back to normal, not quite, right? It really is sort of the beginning of the other process.
[01:14:00] Josh Peck: Totally. And what I came to learn in my own experience was whenever that was that I started, you know, using food and excess or then eventually drugs and alcohol that I had arrested my development, that sort of the natural tools, the coping mechanisms that you accrue through living life on life's terms by facing things head on, by dealing with the life and its circumstances as they present themselves. I didn't have that because in the face of life's challenges I ate or drank. And so suddenly, I'm 21 years old and I'm sober, but I'm still dealing with a teenager sprain. And I quickly realized that it was like admission to the ballpark, but now it was incumbent on me to hit the home run. It wasn't like now I get to be in the hall of fame. It was like, okay, like now you've paid general admission to being part of the human race and abiding by the social contract. What are you going to do with it?
[01:14:55] Jordan Harbinger: That's a tall order. And I think it would almost drive someone to just go back to drinking or eating, right? Because it's like, "Wait, okay, now I'm starting? No, thanks. This sucks."
[01:15:04] Josh Peck: Oh my gosh. I mean, and inevitably like most things I was only dealt, whatever you believe in the universe or God or karma or whatever your thing is, it seemed like I only was sort of dosed as much as I could take from those hard life lessons. Like I have heard some sort of saying that that's like, "We don't stop struggling, but we can choose not to suffer." So I was walking through these things, but then slowly but surely, like the things of the people who had walked before me, the men and women, and in sobriety that I was sort of getting good recon from guys who were saying, "Listen, I was where you're at, at three months, six months, 18 months, five years, 10 years. And I was able to walk through it with grace and it was worth it. And here's why—" I took them on their word but quickly I had enough data to support that. Like, "Oh, if I tough this out, if I see this through, if I walk through this with honor, somehow I always come out on the other side and I'm better for it."
[01:16:04] Jordan Harbinger: So you're working on yourself at this point. You starting to get the realization that you need to work on yourself. And you're on the set of Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth. Now, this is a pretty big deal, right? I mean, you're on the set of Red Dawn with — was he Thor by then? Or is this pre-Thor?
[01:16:17] Josh Peck: This is, he had booked Thor.
[01:16:19] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:16:20] Josh Peck: And we filmed from August to December and then he was going to go shoot Thor. So he's getting in physical shape for Thor.
[01:16:27] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So he's already like pre-jacked AF, like working out with a trainer three times a day, ripped.
[01:16:34] Josh Peck: Yeah. He's blessed. He's eating a lot of chicken breasts. He's crushing the game, but yeah, I mean, this is 16 months into getting sober and as I said, I'm still sort of working with the mind of a 13-year-old or a ten-year-old or sort of that arrested-developed mind.
[01:16:52] And in many ways, I talk about this in the book, like the duality of ego, right? Like ego really worked for me. I love this quote where Muhammad Ali says, when he screamed at Joe Louis, like "I am the greatest." He's like, "I thought that even before I knew it, for sure." And sometimes that kind of thing has to happen, right? Like we have to be hyping ourselves during these moments of challenge. And when all the data suggests that, like, it just can't happen. And that's what I did when I was 300 pounds, you know, crushing my eighth slice of pizza, thinking like, "One day you're going to lose the weight and you're going to be a really respected actor or the bad-ass action star." And so it all came true except I wasn't comfortable. And I also felt like, "Oh, I'm an imposter. This doesn't track. Like, I know this is what I always wanted. I'm going to need to do my best impression of what a real man is." And that real man to me was Chris Hemsworth. So I basically in an effort to be that guy, and also like, I was so overwhelmed with imposter syndrome that I allowed it to turn me into a fraud.
[01:18:06] Jordan Harbinger: And there's a big difference, right? One is where you think you're a fraud. The other one is where you actually are.
[01:18:11] Josh Peck: Yeah. I started projecting this thing that I thought was like, what the producers wanted, what the audience wanted. But most importantly, what I wanted and I betrayed what the script was asking for. I betrayed what the director needed and I was totally self-serving and I started to — what's the word? Like, I would just sort of stand in these like statuesque poses, trying to look like handsome and misunderstood. I basically abandoned anything that had worked for me throughout my life, comedy, self-awareness vulnerability and replaced it with this BS projection of what I thought a real man was. And I nosedive that movie and was ripped to shreds in the reviews about it.
[01:18:53] Jordan Harbinger: It's interesting because the producers must've been thinking, "Okay, well, we hired Chris Hemsworth and now we've got a guy who thinks he should try to be Chris. We already hired the guy who's doing the thing that you're trying to do. What are you doing?"
[01:19:06] Josh Peck: It's such a good point. You're so right. Like what did I think that the producers didn't have eyes? Like that they couldn't see that I had like a little bit more love handle than Hemsworth. Just a wee bit. And it wasn't, I remember when we finished filming friends would say, "Oh, you know, editing does wonder. You're crazy. Don't worry too much. I'm sure it's fine." But I was like, "No, no, no. There's no question of whether I did well on this test. I didn't finish the test. In fact, I only answered the first five out of 50 questions. I failed. It's just a matter of time." And then the studio MGM goes bankrupt. So now, instead of the movie coming out a year after we filmed and me saying, okay, let me take my lashings and try to move on. The movie is held for three years.
[01:19:50] Jordan Harbinger: Oh gosh, here's waiting for it to land, the shoe to drop.
[01:19:54] Josh Peck: And in those three years, it's already gotten around Hollywood that I shanked it. So any sort of Goodwill I had accrued is screwed. I'm in the back of the line professionally, but now I'm like in three years from today, I'll die. Like this movie will come out and I'll die. And like, that's all I can think about for the next three years.
[01:20:15] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh. So when it comes out, what happens? I mean, is it predictable?
[01:20:19] Josh Peck: No. I mean, look, the movie spine, I'm not great in it. And the movie just kind of came and went. It wasn't really successful. It wasn't a bomb. It just was what it was.
[01:20:28] Jordan Harbinger: It was a remake, a Red Dawn.
[01:20:30] Josh Peck: Yeah, exactly. And as a guy, who's now done five remakes over the last decade because there's a lot of good new ideas in Hollywood, I can tell you a me and a remake, we do well. I mean, sure. Turner & Hooch canceled, Red Dawn not the best, but other than that, I've done fine. But I had to completely fall on my face and walk through that shame and embarrassment to know that it was possible to continue on, despite that.
[01:20:58] Jordan Harbinger: Man, thank you for being so open and vulnerable today. I knew this was going to be fun, but what you've done, you know, it's not easy and it's very admirable. And I think a lot of people out there can definitely identify with what you're talking about, even if they weren't a child star on Nickelodeon. So I really appreciate you, man.
[01:21:14] Josh Peck: Jordan, you're the best. I feel lucky to be your friend and lucky to listen to you because you're damn good at this. So thanks, man.
[01:21:21] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much.
[01:21:24] I've got some thoughts in this episode, but before we get into that, here's what you should check out next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:21:30] Derren Brown: I was walking from one hotel to another, quite late at night, I was at a magic convention in Wales. I was wearing a three-piece velvet suit.
[01:21:40] Jordan Harbinger: Because why not?
[01:21:40] Derren Brown: Because why not? So this guy is, you know, he's really drunk and is pretty, yeah, looking for five. And he is with his girlfriend and all his adrenaline is kind of up here and he starts shouting at me and says something like, "What are you looking at? Or what's your problem?" or something. In that situation, you can't respond with, "I'm not looking at anything because then you're on the back foot and they've got power." Or, "Yeah, I'm looking at you. What's your problem?" Because either way, you're going to get hit, but you can just not play that game right from the outset. So I said, "The wall outside my house isn't four-foot-high." So his reaction to that is a bit of a pause and he's like, "What?" I said, "All the wall outside my house isn't four-foot-high." When I lived in Spain, the walls, there were quite high, but here that tiny eminent, nothing. So he then, he just went off and started crying. His girlfriend walked off and he sat down by the side of the road. I sat down next to him and started asking him about what had gone wrong that night. I think his girlfriend had bottled somebody up in some fight. And weirdly, I'm giving him advice.
[01:22:44] I was talking to a friend of mine about this thing, and he's an artist. He used to walk home from his studio late at night, through rough bit of London. And there were always these kinds of like gangs on one side of the road. So he'd always cross over away from them. Of course, they'd always see that. And it always is horrible, uncomfortable, intimidating things. So we spoke about it and then the next night, he crossed over the road to them and said, "Good evening," as he walked past them. And of course, they left him alone because he just seemed like a strange—
[01:23:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, he's crazy.
[01:23:13] Derren Brown: He's just, he's just weird.
[01:23:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Who wants to see a magic trick?
[01:23:17] For an inside look at the levers in our own brain, alongside Darren Brown, one of the world's most legendary illusionists and mentalists, check out episode 150 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:23:31] I love how open and vulnerable he was. I, of course, expected that I'd been friends with him for a long time. He actually wrote his own book, which, you know, nobody does that anymore. So it felt really good to get an inside look at someone like this. And maybe it's a little different for me because I know him, but I think the book is very interesting, even if you don't, of course.
[01:23:49] Also he mentioned imposter syndrome. We did a very big deep dive on that, episode 127 of this show, episode 127. We really got into the weeds on that. That'll be linked in the show notes. We also have an article about imposter syndrome as well. We'll link to that in the show notes too. And of course, links to all things Josh Peck will also be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links if you buy books from any guest. It does help support the show. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:24:30] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single day. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty, folks. Most of the guests you hear on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. You'll be in smart company. That's where you belong.
[01:24:50] Speaking of smart company, this show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's struggled with similar issues or is just interested into look behind the Nickelodeon curtain, share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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