One of our favorite people EVER, Danny Franzese, sat down with Chubstr magazine to discuss his political activism, what it’s like being a big boy in Hollywood, as well as his plus-size style game.
Let’s get right into it: is it harder to get jobs as an actor when you’re a bigger guy?
Ironically, no. Every time I’ve lost weight, I get less roles. I once had someone tell me “you can either gain 50 pounds, or lose 50 pounds, but I can’t sell you at what you’re at right now.” In Hollywood, if you’re purposefully playing the big guy, then you’ve got to appear larger. But if you’re the quirky best friend, then you can be 10 pounds overweight and be a little chubby. If you’re somewhere in the middle, then it’s a little harder.
Do you run into any challenges as a plus size actor on set?
Trailers. So, the honey wagon is like, when you’re a guest star and they don’t want to give you a full trailer because you’re only going to be there for the day or two, they give you this tiny honey wagon. I can’t fit in those! I’m not comfortable in there. It’s like putting a gorilla in a refrigerator. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t use those. I’m also tall, so it’s really hard – even the chair I’m sitting in now, my legs are bent and I’m not sitting like a normal person. I’m always in somebody’s way on a movie set. You have to hide out in the corner, or move somewhere to be out of the way. That’s why I tend to just stay in my trailer.
They don’t really make things to accommodate bigger people.
They don’t. Backseats of cars, no bueno [laughing]. You know, recently, I couldn’t ride the Harry Potter Hogwarts ride. It wasn’t even a size thing, it was a height thing. It hit my shoulders, and that was it. It wouldn’t go down. I was like, this is crazy!
There’s this idea that if you’re in the public eye, or a performer, you’re super confident. Many of the people I’ve interviewed say that becoming confident is a process. Was that ever a struggle for you?
I had to fake it. I was like, if I’m not confident, I’m an actor, I would act like I’m confident. Even if you don’t initially believe in yourself, other people believe you, and eventually you will believe in yourself too.
I made a decision not to make self-deprecating jokes about myself anymore. A lot of comedians like that kind of humor, and you can use a certain amount of that to be silly or funny. I’m not going to sit up there and talk about being fat the whole time. I’ll get up and joke about how great I am at something, or about my awesome beard. If I do say something about my weight, it’ll be with confidence. I’m pretty confident I could eat that whole sub [laughing].
I try to use my celebrity as a megaphone to draw attention to people who don’t have a voice as loud as mine.
I talk about my pain, and things like that – it’s not all fake – but I think when it comes to being a person of size, the worst thing is when someone’s constantly joking about it. I have a friend who recently came out, and he’s a bigger dude who is constantly making weight jokes about himself. I had to ask him to stop. I told him he’s beautiful, he’s great – he should be himself.
Activism seems to be a big part of your life. Why is it so important to you?
For some reason, people give a shit about what celebrities have to say. I don’t know why, but it’s true. So a lot of times, my brain may not be big enough to wrap my head around the problems that everybody has, but my voice is loud enough. I try to use my celebrity as a megaphone to draw attention to people who don’t have a voice as loud as mine.
A lot of people want to be more involved, but don’t know where to start. What advice would you give them?
You don’t have to know somebody, or have had a personal experience with something to get involved. You can just reach out. I recently started working with the Alzheimer’s Association, and I don’t have anyone close to me who suffers from it. I just have real compassion for people who have the disease. It started with me retweeting their tweets, and talking to them. Next thing you know, I’m aligned with them. A retweet goes a long way, and it’s a good place to start.
If you’re interested in working on an issue that might be popular, look for other charities that are already doing it. You might have a dream to start an LGBTQ youth charity in Columbus, Ohio. Maybe there’s one in Columbus you can join and help grow. With the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, for instance, she left 25% of her name and likeness in a trust fund to take care of operating costs. This means that every dollar we raise goes to someone with HIV and AIDS who needs it. So, if you held a car wash and raised $100, or $1000, all of that would go straight to someone who needs it. That’s an example of how somebody with so little could do a really big thing.
Why do you think it’s so hard for big guys to find clothes?
I think one of the challenges is that there are so many types of bigger men. Some of us are top heavy, or we have different shapes, and designers don’t want to put the work in [to fit those body types]. Even the stuff that celebrities borrow, it’s all sample sized. Unless you can fit into sample sizes, you’re not getting anything to borrow.
How do you deal with that?
I get a lot of vintage. I spend the money on bigger pieces that will be staples in my wardrobe. I’ll spend over $1000 on a suit, or a leather jacket, and then I buy basics and mix it with vintage. That’s the real key. Instead of buying a bunch of stuff that’s ill-fitting, spend the money on one or two signature pieces, then mix it up with some solid basics or funky vintage. No one’s going to notice you’re wearing a black t-shirt all the time if you mix it up with different jackets and accessories.
Read the whole interview here.