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Interviews

Johnny Weir Opens Up About Acting & Appearing On NBC's Night Court

Johnny Weir Opens Up About Acting & Appearing On NBC's Night Court

Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir
NBC

Johnny Weir spilled the tea on his NBC’s Night Court cameo and preparing for his final tour as a figure skater during an interview with PRIDE.

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As one of the most famous and successful figure skaters in the world, Johnny Weir has had an incredible career that included multiple stints at the Olympics, Grand Pix, and U.S. Nationals. As of 2023, he is preparing for his final tour as a figure skater and working on new professional endeavors. For instance, Weir appeared as an actor in films like Zoolander 2 and TV shows such as SYFY’s Happy! and Netflix’s Spinning Out.

During an interview with PRIDE, Weir opened up about dipping into the world of acting, which includes an appearance on this week’s episode of the hit NBC sitcom Night Court – a reboot from the original series that aired in the 1980s. On the show, Weir was featured alongside fellow figure skater Tara Lipinski and acted opposite John Larroquette.

Scroll through to read our interview with Johnny Weir, and make sure to watch Night Court every Tuesday on NBC.

PRIDE: You have previously acted in projects like Zoolander 2, Smile and Spinning Out. What has been your experience transitioning from figure skater to acting?

Johnny Weir: It's very interesting. For Night Court, Tara and I play ourselves, which is pretty easy, I'd say. But when I have to morph into different characters, it's so interesting for me to go on that process, simply because I have spent a lifetime as an athlete sort of promoting myself, and pushing myself, and my agenda, and the things I believe in and love. Then you become somebody else, and you have to realize that they have an entirely different way of life and a different thought process.

It's definitely harder than it looks. I'd say when I did my Netflix series Spinning Out, I found a whole new appreciation for acting and for the people in that world, whether it be television or movies, simply because it was so fresh and new to me. I love it and it's so much fun. I do auditions all the time, and if things fit into my schedule, great! If not, great. But I love that I can sort of casually approach being an actor.

What's the story behind your casting in Night Court? How did you get approached to do it?

Like anything else in Hollywood, my agents and my manager let me know that we were invited. Of course, Night Court is on NBC and that is me and Tara Lipinski's Olympic broadcaster. We are so excited anytime we have an opportunity to support the Peacock and NBC. It just seemed like such a fun thing to do.

Tara and I called each other and we were like, 'Hey, are you doing this?' 'Yeah, I want to. Are you doing anything that weekend? ' 'No, no, no, let's just do it, ' so it was just so easy. I flew from Philly out to LA. We shot it in a day, and we just had the most fun.

As you said, you appeared on the show alongside Tara Lipinski. How long have you guys been friends and what's your relationship like?

Despite coming from the figure skating world, which is pretty small and insular, she had achieved so much so early in her life that I wasn't even really skating when she was having the time of her life out there. Then when she won the Olympics, I had just really started skating. Our paths never crossed aside from a 'hi and bye' situation until we started commentating on figure skating for NBC.

Originally, she was to cover the women and I was to cover the men. We were sitting in the studio one night late and it was an event being held in Canada. It was like two o'clock in the morning or something crazy. We just looked at each other and thought, 'You know, why don't we try to do this together?' We took that pitch to our higher-ups and they said, 'Okay, we'll give you an event to try.' And really, our work relationship started there. We have been through some of life's biggest hurdles, real-life things that happen off-camera. We are best friends, we are close, we're constantly in touch despite living on opposite coasts. This is completely, authentically us and we love each other a lot.

You got to act opposite of John Larroquette on the show, who's a veteran in this business. What was that experience like?

Well, my acting experience is quite limited. I've done a lot of huge things in my life and hosted some of the biggest events in the world. But when you go and step into somebody else's world, especially with a very established cast and crew, you do always feel like that kid that's going into the cafeteria for the first time in high school. You look around, and you try and see how people do things and go about it.

But the set [of Night Court] was extremely welcoming, and everyone was so supportive of us. We didn't have so many lines, I suppose, that we had to remember, but it's about the performance. It's about delivering on what you're expected to do. Everyone, the entire cast that was in our scene, they propped us up. They made it easy, they made it fun, and again, we just had such a wonderful time on set.

Night Court is the biggest network comedy of the last five years when it comes to ratings. It's been a huge success. How excited are you to be a part of this project?

I'm so happy in the world of having so many television programs coming at you from every different angle, on every different new platform. I'm so excited that a show that's on broadcast television is doing so well. I haven't had an opportunity to sit and watch the season so far, I've just been so busy with the skating season and preparing myself for my final tour coming up in the springtime. I haven't had time to really sit down at all. I can't wait to sit and watch it and support the show that we are a part of. The fact that Tara and I were on it is just so cool. I'm happy with the success for the show because, again, there are just wonderful people associated with it.

What about Night Court do you think is resonating with so many people who are tuning in?

Even in acting when you're trying to be somebody else, there's an authenticity that comes through the screen and that's why each of us loves our shows and the things that we love to spend our lives with. Television is obviously my work, but also I'm in hotel rooms a lot.

The shows that I have on my iPad that are just on, whether I'm in the shower, or chilling, or studying – whatever the case may be – those people become your family. Those people make being away comfortable and whether you're at home or traveling, it's family. I think that an authenticity in the casting, an authenticity in the writing, and just sort of the goofiness of a network sitcom, it all just really resonates with people because they feel comfortable with it and you can feel great performances coming through the screen.

You mentioned rehearsing and preparing. What's next for Johnny Weir that fans should look out for?

There's a lot of good stuff on the horizon. We have the World Figure Skating Championships in March that Tara and I will commentate along with our booth brother Terry Gannon. Then I go to Japan for my final touring season, which is going to be very bittersweet. I'm excited that the end of my public performances is coming on my terms, and I'm not just being fired or put out to pasture… that I get to decide when I've had enough. I've prepared two wonderful numbers, and I'm so excited to perform them for audiences.

I'm actually going to be a part of the annual fundraising show at my local rink that I train at, which has been so kind to me over the years in giving me ice time so I can prepare for these big tours. We've got that, and I get to perform for my mom, which doesn't happen very often. Then, the sky's the limit. I'm preparing a lot of things that I can't talk about yet, but believe me, I'm going to be around. I'll be around a lot.

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Bernardo Sim

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Bernardo Sim is experiencing the queer pop culture multiverse. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is experiencing the queer pop culture multiverse. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.