Seattle comedian/actor Adam Ray is in the midst of the most ubiquitous phase of his career yet with a role in the Netflix film The School for Good and Evil, and a recent cameo on Fox’s Welcome to Flatch. his ongoing role as wrestling honcho Vince McMahon on NBC’s recurring “Young Rock” (season premiere 8:30 p.m., Nov. 4) and a role on Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales” (Nov. 22).
And that doesn’t include his early 2022 roles as Watergate-era White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler in Starz’s “Gaslit,” starring Julia Roberts, and as Jay Leno in Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy.”
Two weeks after Ray’s Leno debuted in Pam & Tommy, Ray was part of a show with Leno at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California.
“He just turns and looks at me and says, ‘Oh, that’s the guy who played me on TV,’ and then I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m sorry if I was awful, I’m moving go back to Seattle and go out of business,’” Ray recalls. “He said, ‘I haven’t seen it myself, but everyone said it wasn’t cartoon, it was grounded.’ And then we talked about comedy for 30 minutes. He couldn’t have been cooler.”
Rays McMahon on Young Rock is his longest-running role at the start of the show’s third season. While the first two seasons were filmed in Australia in the midst of the pandemic, “Young Rock” relocated to Memphis, Tennessee for its third season and chronicles the exploits of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during his formative years.
“It’s 1997 and [The Rock] has problems,” says Ray. “Vince basically flipped him, which means he’s trying to make him the villain. He just doesn’t connect with the audience.”
Ray says he hasn’t met the real McMahon, who was forced to retire in June following a sexual misconduct investigation. Ray asked Johnson if the real-life McMahon scandal would affect the Young Rock story or the inclusion of the McMahon character, and Johnson said it would not.
Ray plays a drunk in director Paul Feig’s fantasy film The School for Good and Evil, which released October 19 on Netflix and stars Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh and Patti LuPone City dweller who spits out a smattering of wisdom along the way, trying to scare kids and set them on the right path.
“It’s a massive production,” says Ray. “The effects are insane.”
Later in November, Ray appears in Hulu’s Welcome to Chippendales, a true crime story about the Indian immigrant (Kumail Nanjiani) who founded the men’s strip empire. Ray plays an emcee at a roller rink in the historical drama. He was cast in the role by Chippendales series creator Rob Siegel, who Ray had worked with on Pam & Tommy. Ray says Siegel’s pitch was, “There’s a lot of funny scenes and you’re going to be at a hot mic and you can just improvise whatever the hell you want.”
Ray also directed scenes for next summer’s “Barbie” movie, playing a cop in scenes starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
“I’ll have to make a few with the at will [actor playing another cop] and we took Gosling and Margot to the break [character]says Ray. “Ryan just looked at us and said, ‘Well, if that’s not in the trailer, I don’t know what is.’ I’ve had some really cool moments with them.”
In addition to all the film, TV, streaming roles and stand-up touring, Ray records a podcast, About Last Night, which consists of nearly 700 episodes and interviews everyone from Sandra Bullock to Joel McHale Seattle contains.
He grew up as a self-proclaimed “mama’s boy” in Lake Forest Park, it was just Ray and his mother after his parents divorced and his sister went to college.
“[My mom is] my heroine because she just held the line and allowed me to stay involved in all sports and all plays,” says Ray of his mother, Carolyn Cox, who now lives with Ray’s stepfather, George Cox. in Edmonds. “I knew I wanted to be an actor after I quit soccer to play Danny Zuko in ‘Grease’ my sophomore year in high school.”
Ray, who graduated from Shorecrest High School in 2001, studied acting at the University of Southern California and then worked in a casting office while also doing YouTube sketches. He began attending open mic stand-up comedy nights and worked as a backyard tour guide for Universal Studios Hollywood. He ended up hosting Universal’s “Fear Factor” stage show and eventually began opening up to comedian Bobby Lee on the go, allowing him to quit the job at Universal Studios and pursue more stand-up jobs. (During a week in late September, Ray filmed “Young Rock” in Memphis Wednesday through Friday, flew to Detroit on Saturday and performed two stand-up shows, then flew back to Memphis on Sunday.)
Over the years, he has appeared on The CW’s Mad TV reboot and has had roles in Feig’s 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, Netflix’s American Vandal, and opposite Seattle native Jean Smart in the first season of “Hacks” from HBO Max. (“She’s just a legend,” says Ray of Smart. “Jean was so down and they let me improvise.”)
Ray’s next stand-up gig in the Seattle area is December 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Snoqualmie Casino. It’s one of nearly two dozen stand-up shows he will be performing through the end of 2022.
“There’s no timeline for when you’ll get something, or when something will strike, or when you’ll get an opportunity that leads to another opportunity,” says Ray. “So all you have to do is fill your plate and have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible.”