Freddie Prinze Jr. On His New Wrestling Promotion, MJF as AEW Champion, Logan Paul In WWE
Freddie Prinze Jr. (@realfreddieprinze) is an actor, producer and screenwriter known for his roles in movies like She's All That, Down To You, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scooby Doo, Summer Catch and many others. He also worked for WWE as a writer and producer from 2008-2009 and again from 2010-2012. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet in person to talk about his new movie "Christmas With You" on Netflix, why he doesn't like watching his own movies, his thoughts on MJF being the AEW Champion, why he isn't a fan of Logan Paul in WWE, the best advice he ever received and more!
Check out "Christmas With You" on Netflix here: http://netflix.com/ChristmasWithYou
Three. [Chris asks if She’s All That is one] No. I would have seen it at the premiere, but they debuted it on the anniversary of my dad's death, and I was not having a good day that day. And I was the same age he was when he died, I was 22. So it was just like too much, and then I never saw it after that. I saw the first I know what you know did, no I saw the second I know what you did. I saw this little movie I made called Brooklyn Rules, which was me, Jerry Ferrara, Scott Cann and Mena Suvari. And I love that whole cast so much. And I saw it in a tiny little theatre with my wife. And I saw Christmas With You at the Netflix theaer because they made me go, Amy Garcia just doesn't take no for an answer. it's just like you've never seen your movies, you're going to see this. I was like, all right, I promise I'll come. So Rachel, my wife was working in Georgia. I called Rachel Lee. I said, Will you be my safe date at the premiere, she was like, oh my god, I'd love to. She was kind enough to come and hold my hand so I wouldn't run out of the theater. And I sat and watched my big stupid face on a big stupid screen. And I didn't run out of the theater, so it was a win.
Well, yeah, it's been long enough, nobody's gonna get their feelings to hurt. Well the director made certain that I knew I was not his choice for the film every single day. The producers and the studio, I was their choice, but he wanted a different actor. And every single day, man, it was just, he was just all my case. If I left my mouth open, he would go ‘You look stupid when your mouths open, close your mouth.’ I'm just like dude get off my case. And then there was a stunt where they, to save money, sent the stunt crew home. And they wanted me to drive this dinghy with an outboard motor over the wake of this boat, right? And I'm sitting there going, did Freddie Hice approve this? Freddie Hice was the stunt coordinator. He's [the director] like Oh, yeah. He [Freddie Hice] did not. By the way, Freddie is an amazing stunt coordinator and always had all the actor’s back in that movie. He was great, not good, great. He did the sequel as well, and hell of a horseback rider too. He did like a bunch of westerns and stuff. So any like horse stunts, like, oh yeah, he’s a master. So anyway, we do the we do the rehearsal, and the boat is not safe to do this jump. And I fly out of the boat and it goes right over my head, the outboard engine, and I can feel, I don't know how close it was, but it felt like it was a millimetre away. And I get out of the water and I'm p*ssed. And I'm like, where is Freddie Hice? Because I'm mad at Freddie. And someone goes ‘They didn't want to say it, they sent him home.’ And I'm like, what? And the director comes up to me. He goes, you told me you knew how to drive a speedboat. And I'm like, yes, I do, that's not a speedboat, it's a dinghy with an outboard motor. You're mad at me? You're mad at me? And he's like, Well, we have to do it again. I'm like, I'm not doing that again. You're crazy. And every single day was just him letting me know that I wasn't good enough and it was my first movie, really my first big movie I'd done.
I mean, I will say this that AEW pay-per-view, Full Gear, was great. Not good, great. So every once in a while I think both teams get it right. Whether it's WWE under Hunter's control, or AEW under Tony's. When they get it right, I love it, and it's great. And when they get it wrong, I feel the same way everyone else does.
I've been saying this for a long time, man. I've gotten to know Maxwell over the last two years. Every time he comes to LA, we make it a point to go to dinner, and I try to take him to like a different sushi spot every time, right? And this kid is 26 years old, so I can say kid, and he has the single most brilliant mind in the wrestling business. Every storyline that he's come up with, man, I shouldn't even say that. Well, I said it. Listen, the ideas in this kid's head at getting multiple people over, not just himself, but focusing on what's best for the business, not what's best for MJF, is second to none. And I'm not the most experienced and educated wrestling cat in the world, but I did work for the WWE. And I did ask a million questions to the Pat Patterson's of the world, to The Freebirds’ of the world, to the Arn Anderson's, the Dean Malenko’s, all these old school people. And everything they taught me this dude has in spades, it is unreal how his mind works. He does not go into business for himself. That's like such a cliche thing to say now ever since that CM Punk explosion at AEW. But for real, like, that's the best way to say it, I love this kid, I texted him the night he won. Don't get mad at me for saying this. He wrote back ‘We did it.’ Not meaning he and I, meaning him and everyone, all I wrote back was ‘Damn right you did.’ Because I wanted him to know like, brother, this was you and it's awesome that you're trying to get as many people over, as many people over as humanly possible. But you did this, like otherwise at 26, it does not happen. And so I just hate complimenting a heel. But man he's just, he's so great at it. I love this guy so much. He's so good for the business on both sides. Like not even working for WWE, I feel he helps WWE as well.
I hate post wrestling scrums, I think those shouldn't exist. I don't think they're cool. I think it's real weird. Sometimes I think it's kind of goofy. And every once in a while someone comes out there and you're like, okay, yeah, all right, I get why you're giving these guys an opportunity to talk. Because every once in a while, you get some magic, like that [the MJF promo].
I was there in LA at that pipe bomb promo that he cut when he went beserk and was just f this, and f that, and this and that. And I was sitting there, like, I can't believe I got to be here for this, this is absolutely phenomenal. And I'm not a big proponent of cursing to make the promo cooler, right? That's what the Attitude Era was like, oohhh he said son of a bitch. And like, I could have said it without that, and still been good. Show me you can get over without cursing and then I'll be like, dang, you know what I mean? But with Max, it doesn't matter. He can make you cry. And like when he did with that CM Punk story when he was talking about making the football team and starting defence. And here comes the defensive line, the whole defensive unit, while he's walking down the hall to his locker, and he's finally going to be accepted. And instead of giving him love, they threw quarters on the floor and said, pick them up Jewboy. And the whole crowd that hated him, suddenly, you saw them when they made the cut, and you saw people feel ashamed of themselves. And I'm sitting there and I'm like, Sarah, Sarah, get in here you got to see this, when it's special, I make her watch. And I'm like, Look at this kid, this kid is acting, you could put this in a movie, and it would move you and there'd be a soundtrack behind it. And I'm sitting there looking at him just like how is he doing this? And then I think he just at the end of it just kicks CM Punk in the nuts, just to let you know, like no, you're right to hate me. I just wanted to make you feel like sh*t for a minute, and because I can for no other reason than I can. And he told such a beautiful story over those few weeks that they had that storyline. I could have watched that go on another two, three fights, to be honest. But he knew the perfect amount of time it should be. And he pulled it off. And he wasn't the one that came out on top at the end of it. And that was just that's where you see like the selfishness and the selflessness all at the same time. It's like Bruce Lee out there, man. Unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness, like that's what he's doing. It's crazy. I know I'm speaking about him like, he's a poet, or Picasso, but that's what he is. Don't forget, in that pay-per-view, that was his blood, sweat and tears on an actual canvas, painting a picture for everyone to see with Jon Moxley, who I call the werewolf. Because that's what he looks like, wrestles like, sounds like, he's just a werewolf out there. Um, so yeah, man, he is a Picasso out there. And the good thing is, he's being appreciated within his lifetime, instead of long after he's gone.
Mine's too weird for someone like him. Mine is much different. And I haven't been completely honest with everyone about what it is because I don't want it getting out there. But he's so different than what I'm going to do. He would look out of place, and it wouldn't be the right thing for him. Although he's read the script, I've pitched the entire thing to him, he's given me notes. Because I value that young generation's opinion, I don't want to do stuff that's too old man-ish and he's been straightforward. He's like, only old guys are going to connect to that, I think you focus more on this. And I'm looking at it like, Damn, he's dead on, dead on. And I've applied those notes. So yeah, it's different.
I don't like all the behind the scenes stuff, you know, there should be magic left in it, otherwise everyone feels like they can do it and everyone can't. I don't like all the behind the scenes stuff in movies, I don't like the masked magician, screw that guy Val Valentino or whatever his name is. Vince made me produce a damn segment with him when the show, when Smackdown was on the UPN, and so was his [Valentino’s] show and he [Vince] did it just to rib me. And I was like you know I hate that son of a b*tch. He just laughs like ha ha ha and I’m like son of a b*tch, and had to go and produce that schlock. So I wanted all his tricks to fail. Screw that guy, man, all those YouTube videos. ‘Here's so and so did this…’ Screw that video, man. Like you're taking away someone's livelihood when you do that. You know what I mean? Just so you can make a couple bucks? That seems dirty and shady to me. Everyone's got to hustle, I know that, but I don't have to respect everybody's hustle. So yeah, man, I'm not, I'm not about that. So it's gonna be different and people see it [Freddie Prinze Jr’s promotion] and then they can judge for themselves. They can click with it and love it, or they can not click with it and hate it, and you're both right. However you feel about art, you're correct. Because it's art. It's never going to be viewed the way three plus three is viewed. Because it's not, it's not science. But uh, but yeah, man. So I'm not as concerned with that as I am. I want to execute this the right way. And I want it to be my vision, not anybody else's vision. And the proof will be in the pudding man.
I don't know. I don't know if he wrestles again. I don't. I mean, his body wasn't able to hold up. You know, he was getting hurt a lot, as we all do when we get older. His patience wasn't able to hold up in dealing with a younger generation. I mean, look, for millennials and Gen Z, my generation and up. It's not an illusion, they hate you, because they don't want to understand you. The things that my generation and older say about them are the same things my mom's generation said about me. You're softer, you don't work as hard on this. Yeah, you're right, you made it easier for me to live. So thank you to your generation, but now we have a remote control and I don't have to get up and change the channel because you're old and arthritic, and can't do it anymore. I get that they hate the fact that kids can make millions on YouTube or Twitch and they don't have a boss telling them they suck every day. But here's the flip side to that. Yeah, they may not have a boss, but they have dozens, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people that not only say they suck, but demand to have say in what they do. That's what the life of a streamer is. I've seen people sacrifice their dignity and their soul, I'll put on a banana suit if I get 50 followers today. You can't take that back, you know what I mean? If you start living by people who are giving you $5 a month and all of a sudden you want some of that dignity back, so goes their $5 too. So they have to deal with much different pressures than these older generations had to deal with. Yeah, I had a director who was on my case every day on I Know What You Did Last Summer, every single day. It sucked. That's one son of a bitch. All right, that's one guy. The streamers out there YouTuber all these, everyone in the world that has access to the internet can say horrible things about you. And these are young kids that are not prepared for that type of fame. That's why I took my channel off Twitch because they don't care, they don't care about these young kids. They don't put any measures in to protect them until four or five years later after, you know, these kids have been complaining and begging and asking for it. And it's not like once they were bought by Amazon, they couldn't afford to put measures in place. They simply chose not to because it wasn't cost effective. So screw Twitch, screw those companies, man. I hope all of you go to YouTube or somewhere else where you're in control and you're not having to pay for their service in order for you to get paid. Like, I got love for y'all, I really do. And I understand the pressures that they have to go through. I've seen it affects so many young people, I've seen it. The first person that called me uncle Freddy, or I think it was she said he's my twitch uncle, was this girl I found randomly on Stream and I was reading the comments and I was just like, oh my God, is this what streamers have to go through? And for a female streamer it's different right? Because these guys were letting her know exactly why they were watching her and saying sh*t that you're just like Jesus Christ, like Michelle Pfeiffer never had to hear that in her Catwoman suit looking fine as hell. Like she didn't have to hear just non stop and there's no accountability. And there's no one there to smack them and be like show some respect, because it's all digital. And they're just enduring that at an age where you're not equipped to deal with that yet. And I just remember going like this is a bad bad place and so I get it and I have a lot of empathy, sympathy as I would have gone through it, and I haven't. So I empathise with what they have to go through. And I respect the ones that are able to come out on the other side and still have their dignity intact. Because it's soul selling, and soul stealing. And those are hard things to deal with in your early 20s. So I don't know how CM Punk moves forward. He's of that older generation.
Like emotionally, he wasn't able to keep up with it either. Like physically, you kind of saw it on the failed Buckshot Lariat when the knees gave out, the injury after injury after injury. But to lose it like that in that post Scrum, which everyone loved in the media, but I thought it was so bad for the business, to just bury everyone and right next to Tony. And while he's saying he didn't like people going into business for themselves, the philosophy had to be in his head. Well, if they're going to do it, I'm going to do it right. Like Barry Bonds on steroids, like well, if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are going to do it, and I'm already better than them. I'll do it and become the greatest baseball player ever. Yeah, so once you do that, there's no going back and I mean, you heard the chants during the Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks trios match where they were saying, you know, F you CM Punk like the fans weren't having it whether they're right in that opinion or not. That's their opinion, because they're the viewers of art, so it can't be incorrect if that's how they feel again, it's not three plus three, which we agree is still six. So you know, you got to evolve. This is something CM Punk said when WWE, you either evolve or you die.
Look, I get why they're doing it, I wasn't a big fan of it. I will say this. He did his thing like the dude can wrestle. He's done I think three matches now, and I finally watched the Crown Jewel match, I was so proud of the fact that I didn't watch it because I hate Crown Jewel. It's just the goofiest. Um, so yeah, so it's a tricky thing. I get why they did it, right. I get why they brought Mr. T to Wrestlemania. But I'm not a fan of it. Like I would rather see wrestlers wrestle. I didn't like that he videoed himself doing a Frog Splash. How serious are you, this is the old school mentality, how serious are you about winning the WWE Championship if you're going to hold a phone and video yourself doing a Frog Splash? It should be a singular [focus]. Again. It's an old school mentality, and I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's mine. How serious are you about winning, if you don't have a singular focus on winning. [Chris mentions Hulk Hogan flexing]. It's not, the flex was to power him up. And you know, like, show you how into it he is. Whereas this is like, I'm gonna bring everyone into my social media page and get even more followers while I do this.
I don't know if I would have been good enough. I don't know. First of all, I don't think my godfather would have let me, there's better ways to make a living, just asked Matt Riddle. So yeah, you know, I always wanted to make a good living and, and make money and be successful in not just the career I chose, but in the ability to have what I want. We didn't have anything growing up, like we got kicked out at two houses by the time I was a sophomore in high school, because we couldn't afford it. My dad was successful, but for a very short period of time, and when he died, he didn't leave anything, he didn't have a will. My grandma came out and fought for her share and kind of took a lot. And my mom didn't have much, you know, she had to go job to job and I had to grow up with my grandparents for a good portion of time. Because we didn't have a house I had to grow up with my godparents who I mentioned Bob Wall, who was one of the main influences on my life and my godmother, Lillian, who's still with us and just an amazing human being. So yeah, I didn't want to be broke, and UFC fighters don't make any money. So that wasn't that wasn't gonna be in my future. I think it was act or nothing, man. I really do.
Never though, I would never stand on the same stage as he did, ever. I didn't even like doing Saturday Night Live because it felt too close to what he did. But yeah, there was never going to be a day where I did stand up comedy. I did get to hang out at the Improv, rest and peace Budd Friedman, and we just lost [him]. I'm losing everybody that was like a father figure to me when I was a kid, Gene LeBell this year, lost my godfather Bob Wall this year, Budd just past that my father opened that club, the improv on Melrose. And I was 12 years old, and would hang out there with spiral notebooks. And I would write down the comics jokes as fast as I could and then and then rate how loud the audience reacted. And I've handed those journals to comics, like as an adult, and it literally has blown their mind. They're like, I remember that joke, holy sh*t that’s amazing. Three stars? What is that? I'm like, No, I laughed. But for real man, if I had to go to the bathroom, he would have to take me and he would clear out the bathroom because that's where like, all the actors and comics and musicians would be doing cocaine. He’d be like, Oh, I got little Freddie coming in, and these guys would go and be like sorry, let me get out of here. And then I could go take a leak.
A higher power, a family that is healthy and every opportunity.