Drew Droege is a 37-year-old actor from Los Angeles who has starred in television and movies, and recently appeared in Old Navy's commercial alongside Amy Poehler. (He was "Terry," the guy chopping peppers behind "Jen.")
When I learned that my friend knew Drew, I asked for an introduction, and learned what it's like working in a burrito joint to promote Old Navy.
Q: Drew, how long have you been acting?
A: I'm originally from North Carolina, where I started doing community theatre in high school. I went to Wake Forest University, where I studied theatre and really tried to be a Serious Actor. I always made people laugh, and I hated that for so long - I wanted them to FEEL and SOB and BLEED, and then one day I realized that I'm horrible at all that stuff. So I moved to LA and started doing improv with The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade.
Q: I hear you had met and worked with Amy Poehler once before. What did you work on together on?
A: Yes! We were in a crazy wonderful hilarious breakdance movie musical called "Freak Dance", created and produced by her comedy group, Upright Citizens Brigade, several years ago. I played the silver-suited platinum-haired dance villain named Dazzle. Amy was a brilliantly deranged uptight society woman who hated dance. We only had one day together, and it was a blast. But I cannot believe that she remembered me years later on the Old Navy job. She's amazing like that - she has a reputation for remembering people's names and faces - I think she might be a part-time witch.
Q: As you know, Amy was a creative partner for this series of commercials. What was it like on the set?
A: Amy is above all things a team player - she makes everyone feel important and hilarious and valid. She's a true improviser - when certain things weren't working as well as others, she effortlessly said, "Let's try it this way". She never lost her sense of joy and play. Nothing was too precious for her - it made for an incredibly exciting day.
Q: What is it like to work with Amy?
A: She is a dream - of course she's stupid funny and whip smart, but she's also really generous and wants everyone to be good. She suggested all kinds of things for me to try - all of them worked, and she made me look hilarious. That's just who she is. I also loved how she just became this burrito barrista - in between takes, she was constantly stirring the beans and fluffing the rice, making sure that everything was perfect.
Q: What’s the funniest thing that happened that didn’t make it into the final commercial?
A: While we were shooting an early take, Amy just named me Terry, and decided that her character's name was Jen. As the day progressed, we just started creating these bizarre backstories for these people. At one point, I told the customers that she slept in the walk-in refrigerator, and she said that I drive my Mom to the dentist - a lot. I just screamed in the middle of that one - completely ruined it.
Q: At the end of the commercial, everyone runs out the door to go buy Old Navy clothes. I assume once you wrapped production, everyone on the set did the same thing.
A: Of course! We're still at Old Navy, actually. Come find us!
Q: How long did your hands smell like peppers after the shoot?
A: Let's just say that all my friends call me Pepper Fingers to this day.
Thank you, Drew, for this insight! You can see Drew in the upcoming comedy from Paramount Pictures, "Scouts VS. Zombies."
---Special contributions by Kevin F. Sherry.