Tom Arnold is a funny guy, but not when it comes to philanthropy. The comedian who rose to fame on the sitcom “Roseanne” (as well as for his short lived marriage to costar Roseanne Barr) was in town Sunday to emcee an event at Nobu Miami benefiting the South Florida chapter of After-School All-Stars. Founded by Arnold’s buddy/onetime “True Lies” costar Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2002, ASAS is a nonprofit that helps expand learning for low income kids.
How did you get involved with this organization?
Arnold started this amazing organization a while back and I learned a lot of my service stuff from him. He’s genuinely good hearted and I think learned a lot about philanthropy from Maria [Shriver, Schwarzenegger’s ex wife]. I like to make fun of him and bust his chops, but he’s a great dude. I mean, he’s raised hundreds of millions for charity. He’s that guy. Very charismatic. Now the host of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ [who took over for Donald Trump]. He came here with $5 in his pocket, not $5 million: The true American Dream, an incredible success story and believes in giving back.
You two had amazing chemistry in 1994’s “True Lies.” What about a sequel?
We have the same chemistry in real life. Whenever we get together it just devolves into two people arguing [laughs]. There was a script for ‘True Lies 2.’ We were going to do a film that ended with a submarine coming onto the base of the Twin Towers. Then 9/11 happened and [director] Jim Cameron said terrorism just could not be made funny and he was right. There’s talk of a pilot now.
You shot a lot of scenes in Florida. How was that experience?
Boy, we had fun. It was my first real movie and I assumed all were like that. I was wrong! But yeah, we were here a long time, in all different parts of the state. We got to blow up the old Seven Mile Bridge twice. Arnold and I definitely bonded during that experience.
What do you do when you’re back in town?
I don’t go anywhere. My brother in law Mark [Groussman] lives on a golf course. I take a golf cart to the gym. Seriously, there are great restaurants and great sports to watch. For a kid who grew up in a small town in Iowa there’s a lot here. It’s not just Pitbull and Flo Rida. As a kid, Jackie Gleason was my idol. I remember him moving here and thinking, ‘Oh my Gosh, what would that be like?’ It’s a great, unique American city. People from all over the world come here. Walk through the airport end to end and you kind of see what America is all about.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I have a sci fi comedy coming out called “Dead Ant,” about an old band headed to Coachella that stop along the way at the Joshua Tree and are warned against harming any wildlife. They take a mind altering drug and someone ends up urinating on a dead ant that starts killing people. I do a recurring role on “NCIS: New Orleans,” another great American city. I am starting a film in South Africa. I’m 57 and have a 1- and 3-year-old. Add that up and I have to work forever. Good thing I like what I do.