Interview with Chris Hardwick Host of NBC’s THE WALL

OHSOGRAY attended a recent screening for NBC’s new game show The Wall and talked with host Chris Hardwick.

The Wall premieres Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

On the much-needed positivity of The Wall:

I love that it’s positive and not built on negativity and cynicism and it’s really fun to watch people hurt each other, be mean to each other. These people really care about each other and I think we could use a little bit of positivity in our culture. That was part of the mission statement that it wasn’t just a frivolous superfluous kind of a thing. It was a very deeply emotional thing and it changes peoples’ lives and we are trying to give away as much of NBCs money as possible and so I legitimately, I have every reason in the world to root for these people.

On bringing The Wall to audiences:

Andrew Glassman is the genius behind how the game is played. He’s really the mechanics guy and the show was pretty well developed by the time I came around and so for me any part of the development process was just having discussions of story and getting engagement of the contestants. It’s so genius to have every episode just be one team because you really do care about them by the end of it and however much empathy you felt watching them, for me it was tenfold because I spend so much time with them and I’m talking to them off camera and really finding out about their lives and who they are and what they do and about their kids. I really do care if they win money or if they leave without money.

The Wall - Season 1

On what it’s like to be on stage with the contestants:

I can see some of the stuff the camera doesn’t pick up. I can see when peoples’ hands are shaking when they’re standing there the adrenaline is rushing through their body or they’re trying to guess if whoever their partner is are they going to know about car racing? Are they going to know about this? Are they going to know about that? But they have to focus because it really is not just a game of chance. The engine of the game is chance but the meat of the game is really the story and the strategy and the strategy is dictated on their relationship. Everything really relies – the chance relies on the strategy and the strategy relies on their personal relationship and that’s, I think, what makes it real interesting. It’s a form of – it’s not reality TV but it’s real in the sense that they’re real people. They have a real connection to one another.

On selecting which projects to work on:

I’ve been working for 22 years. I’ve not worked more in my career than have worked and I’m in a nice window right now where I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to. I don’t have to take jobs for money and I feel like that’s about as much success as you can ever ask for. So when the call first – I’ve know Paul Telegdy for a long time and we’ve always talked about wouldn’t it be great to do something together. Every once and I’ll while I’ll call and go, “Hey do you have time to do this?” He’ll be like, “Oh I don’t I’m sorry.” Or we’ll just hang out just as friends. He called, “I’ve got this really great show it’s called The Wall.” He kind of explained it and I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I have time to do that.” But when I went to that first run through and within ten minutes I immediately go, “Oh. Oh this.” I was swept up, the emotions and so I made time for it. I only really can make time for the things that I love doing and I did. I had a week off and that’s what I did with my week off from @midnight and Talking Dead. We went and shot The Wall. We did all ten episodes in one week and it was incredible. It was way more emotional than I thought it would be.

On working with Executive Producer LeBron James:

He’s great. You know when he’s in season he’s focused on basketball so I don’t bother him. Let him focus on that.

On his recent marriage to Lydia Hearst and how he thinks she’d do on The Wall:

Getting married was nice, being in a good, healthy relationship, I recommend it. It’s really nice too. Lydia is great. Lydia is competitive. I feel like I’m good with trivia so I would go into isolation and she’d be great with the strategy part. [I[f we do get to make more I think we will just for fun try it just to see what it’s like to actually play the game as a contestant.

The Wall - Season 1

On his game show hosting past on MTV’s Singled Out:

I don’t know if Singled Out was full of really great people who deserved a chance. We didn’t really give away any money. It’s so funny. Singled Out seemed so raunchy at the time but by today’s standards it’s like a grandparents show by today’s standards. They never went on the dates. I can say with 100% certainty there’s zero parallel between Singled Out and The Wall except Singled Out had a tiny little wall with categories on it – or there was a wall that was the only thing that was in common. But they didn’t know each other and I think secretly people were always kind of rooting against the people on that show. You kind of thought it was funny when they ended up together and it was like, “Oh they can’t stand each other.” I think the ‘90’s really ushered in that age of cynicism and I think we’re sort of coming out of, hopefully coming out of now.