Celebrity High-Five: Chris O'Dowd on His 5 Favorite TV Shows

Irish actor Chris O'Dowd has both Hollywood and London in his pocket. After starring in the British series (and U.S. cult hit) The I.T.Crowd, the actor landed a variety of roles in U.S. films—including the Jay Roach-produced comedy Dinner For Schmucks, Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels, Friends with Kids, and the Judd Apatow blockbuster Bridesmaids. O'Dowd has also guested on a handful of TV series, most recently the HBO comedy Girls. And his latest project is the Victorian-era miniseries called The Crimson Petal and the White, which makes its American debut tonight at 8pm on Encore.

We recently caught up with O'Dowd while he was filming in Europe; here's what he had to say about his acting influences, his favorite chick flick, and of course, his five favorite TV shows.



O’Dowd as William Rackham, with Romola Garai as Sugar, in The Crimson Petal and the White.


Your latest project is a TV miniseries called The Crimson Petal and the White. Can you tell us about the project and your character?

It’s the tragic story of a man who feels trapped in his marriage and incapable of leading the life that people expect of him. So he runs to the arms of a prostitute and surprisingly, that doesn’t work out well.


What attracted you to project initially?

I thought that they were just beautiful scripts. I’ve never been a huge period drama fan, but it kind of told a story that I related to a lot more. I related to the dirt. I don’t know what high-life society is like, so it’s never been something that has attracted me. But low-life—loads of experience with that.


Are you hoping to do more TV work?
Yeah, I’m going to do a little bit more. I’m going to do a show with Christopher Guest called Family Tree. I think it’s gonna be good. I’m going to do a little bit more on Girls, the HBO show. And, I’ve just written my own project for Sky TV in Britain and the U.K., Britain and Ireland. That’s called Moone Boy.


In the U.S., you’ve appeared in a handful of rom-coms; do you have a favorite chick-flick?

Oh, I have loads. I mean... God... wow. It’s hard to beat When Harry Met Sally, I think.


What about your influences? What are some of shows, movies, and people that have helped shaped your career?

I’ve always loved Will Ferrell’s stuff. In terms of TV, I was a big fan of Roseanne growing up. It was the only one of those American comedies, where I could relate to the family dynamic of people having problems with each other (laughs). And, I grew up on Cheers, I watched Cheers with my dad for sure. And I guess later, I was a big Curb Your Enthusiasm fan. That kind of showed me how funny you can be when you don’t write it all down. And Christopher Guest, I was a huge fan of all of his stuff. I think I used to have like Spinal Tap on in my college dorm room, on repeat.


And now, here are O'Dowd's five favorite television shows, in no particular order.



Fawlty Towers


"I'm going to go with Fawlty Towers for just that kind of virtual, sole, male performance. And making farts not seem silly, but hysterical.



The Office


"I love the American Office. Because I think the performances in it, across the board, are exceptional."



The West Wing


"I like the worthiness of it."



30 Rock


"It's just the best writing in television."



L.A. Law


"I wanted to be a lawyer from the age of 10. And when I reached the time when I was going to go to college and found out what it was all about, I had no interest in it anymore. I realized I thought “law” was what L.A. Law was. And then I realized what I actually wanted to do was just live in L.A."


What do you think of O'Dowd's picks? Did any of them surprise you?


The Crimson Petal and the White airs tonight at 8pm on Encore.


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This guy has THE hottest/coolest wife ever! I'm jealous of you Chris but I salute you.
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You forgot to mention in his intro that right now he is starring in the amazing Australian film, The Sapphires.
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We're actually seeing ads over here now for that show he mentions, Moone Boy. He's basically a kids imaginary friend. I'm not sure if it looks charming or just weird. But Chris O'Dowd ain't put a foot wrong yet (and he loves Fawlty Towers. I need to rewatch that show. I miss Manuel.)
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Holy crap, this guy loves NBC! I dig that LA Law answer the most, it just seems so unique and human and fun.
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He's clearly trying to suck up to The Office in case he can grab a guest starring role in the final season, but I'd much rather see him on Parks and Rec.
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You know, it's entirely possible the man is just complimenting one of his favorite shows.
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It's also entirely possible the guy's never seen or even heard of parks and rec. Not on in the uk as far as i know.
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That's the beauty of the internet :-)
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Great choices. Have not heard of "Fawlty Towers" before, but it's John Cleese, so I'm sure it's good. "The Office" is of course great (excepting last season). "The West Wing" is the greatest show of all time, so of course I applaud that. "30 Rock" is just hilarious, so I support that, too. Never watched "L. A. Law", but heard solid things about it.



I approve. Also, saw "Bridesmaids", thought he was good in it and "When Harry Met Sally" is one of the best romantic comedies of all time (plus, Billy Crystal!).
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OMG how is is possible to not have heard of Fawlty Towers?
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Sir, GO WATCH FAWLTY TOWERS. RIGHT NOW. THIS INSTANT. YOU DO NOT COME BACK HERE UNTIL YOU HAVE WATCHED IT, YOU HEAR?

Ahem.

It's rather alright, that show.
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If you haven't seen Fawlty Towers you are missing A LOT! Run get the DVDs!!! It's British comedy par excellence!!!
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Yep. Get it. Watch it all in one day then get up the next day and watch it all again.
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I love Chris O'Dowd! No mention of his recent marriage. 30 Rock and The West Wing would be near the top of my list, too. The Office would have been great if it had ended sooner. LA Law I watched for a while, but got tired of it. It's is so dated now. Never got into Fawlty Towers.
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Bring us back the IT Crowd!
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I miss it. It's the best comedy since Arrested Development, a little better than Community.



By the way, if anyone is wondering what my name means, go to tnetennba.com. (Not my site, but the video that explains the word can be viewed there).
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According to Graham Linehan they will look to being filming the new season shortly, as Katherine Parkinson (Jen), has just had a baby.
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What? Did they change their minds? The last I read was that they started working on ideas for a fifth season, but after a while just decided to give it up and NOT make a fifth season. It made me wonder if people who make TV in the UK don't even get paid. That would also explain why they only make 6 episodes in a year.
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"It's just the best writing in television." - well it's just not. Not in TV. Not in comedy. Not in the US comedy. No.
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I'd say it started out fantastic but it has become lazy dross now. A real shame. Shows like Archer, Parks&Rec, Modern Family and Big Bang Theory tear it completely to pieces these days. If it wasn't for Alec Bladwin I would have stopped watching altogether but even he is struggling under the weight of paper thin material. The first decent episode of the most recent season was about 19 I think.
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Everything is personal preference. I'd say in strict category of "CURRENT US sitcoms on NETWORK TV"... it ranks quite well.

But definitely not compared to various dramas or various cable-shows. There are lots of other current shows with much better overall writing, and LOADS more past-shows.
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Agreed. Ranks well. Still under your category, I would say Community would win but I'm biased because it's awesome.

Stepping out of the category a little bit wider - Louie.
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