It’s been 20 years since George Lopez, 61, launched his iconic namesake series, The George Lopez Show. In his new series, Lopez vs. Lopez, debuting Friday, Nov. 4, on NBC, the Los Angeles–born comic teams up with real-life daughter Mayan Lopez, 26, to bring a fictionalized version of their family’s trials and tribulations to the small screen.
What’s it like working with your daughter?
I really like working with Mayan. Mayan is really funny. She makes me laugh every day. She’s quick. I know she’s my daughter, but I think I spend more time with her thinking of her as an actress — a comedic actress — and one that I can hug and it’s not an issue.
Did you encourage or discourage her to pursue an entertainment career?
I told her a long time ago that I was going to tell her something my grandmother never told me, and that is, “If you never want to be at someplace where you're at, then leave. I want you to be happy and do what you want to do.” … Not everyone is meant for this business, and this business is not meant for everyone, but if you do have an ability, and you are an entertainer, and you are funny and you withstand the schedule and all the things that come from it, you can achieve something.
Who makes you laugh today?
I look at a lot of the old throwback stuff, old Johnny Carson, old sitcoms like Chico and the Man [starring Prinze], Sanford and Son. Funny how times change, but if you belong to that time — like if you belong to that era of jazz — then you always appreciate jazz. … I don’t feel old-fashioned because if you look at Beethoven or Bach, is that old-fashioned? No, it’s timeless.
Are you hoping The George Lopez Show is timeless in its connection to the new Lopez vs. Lopez?
I think people like to see what’s familiar. To come back to TV 20 years later — we’ll see how people react to that, but I love it. I grew up watching The Tonight Show. I’m sitting here talking to you, and I can see the Johnny Carson Building at NBC Universal which is right across from me. I was presented the opportunity to buy Johnny Carson’s Rolex [watch] that he used to wear on the show. I remember the watch and I bought it.
Do you wear it?
I don’t wear it every day, but I have it with me today. I rotate. The first time I touched it, wore it, I would say that it felt like a jolt of light went through me, and it’s been very different since I’ve owned it. It’s very bizarre, the energy that’s in that watch. The idea that he was wearing it when I did the show in ’91, and when I shook his hand, that watch was a foot from me, and then I ended up being the owner. It’s amazing.
You went through quite a health ordeal [Lopez had a kidney transplant after being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at age 43]. How is your health?
I did, but I have really great doctors and they take really good care of me. I was at the doctor’s [office] yesterday. They study the test results very thoroughly because they don’t want anything to happen to me. Neither do I, but they really don’t. It's been 17½ years since my transplant. I don’t look sick.
Did that experience change you?
The kidney surgery [led to] starting the [George Lopez] Foundation. We’ve raised millions of dollars for people. There’s purpose in that. The purpose is to have information available to people that will keep them well that didn’t exist before. Especially being a Latino, something would not be a red flag when it should be a red flag. Everybody can make an excuse for being fatigued or for low back pain. Maybe you reached for something [and felt pain], but your back’s been hurting for years. Those are the things that we want people to be aware of. If you feel something, your body is trying to tell you something.
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