INTERVIEW: George Lopez & Selenis Leyva Find ‘Heart, Grit & Truth’ in ‘Lopez vs Lopez’

Lead Photo: LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Lopez as George, Selenis Leyva as Rosie -- (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)
LOPEZ VS. LOPEZ -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Lopez as George, Selenis Leyva as Rosie -- (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)
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When comedian George Lopez‘s original namesake sitcom premiered on TV on March 27, 2002, there was no way anyone could have imagined that life would come full circle for him 20 years later. For him, the memories of that groundbreaking series have a dreamlike quality.

“To look back on that first show, sometimes it almost feels like it didn’t happen,” George told Remezcla during a recent interview. “I mean, it was so long ago.”

So long, in fact, his daughter, Mayan, was only five years old when the pilot episode aired. She oftentimes joined her father on set where she would explore and hang out with him and the rest of the cast. Now 26, Mayan is playing opposite her father on his new series Lopez vs Lopez. The show follows fictional versions of George and Mayan, a father and daughter who are trying to maneuver their way through a dysfunctional relationship.

The series feels autobiographical with George coming back into Mayan’s life after years of being estranged, much like the real George and Mayan were until only a couple of years ago.

After ABC decided not to renew George Lopez in 2007, the now-seasoned comedian moved on to other eponymous series like Lopez Tonight, Lopez, and Saint George. He also kept in touch with friends from the past, including his original show’s writer and executive producer Bruce Helford, who executive produced the new series.

Helford connected George and Mayan to Deby Wolfe, who was interested in creating a show with the father and daughter duo after seeing a TikTok video Mayan posted where she twerked upside down in response to someone online criticizing her family. It’s an unconventional origin story for Lopez vs Lopez, but one that George is glad happened.

“The lessons I’ve learned in my life from people have made it easier to be successful in the most difficult business possible,” George said. “I’m very fortunate.”

George Lopez and Selenis Leyva from Lopez vs Lopez
George Lopez and Selenis Leyva from Lopez vs Lopez
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Someone else who feels fortunate to be a part of the new sitcom is actress Selenis Leyva (Orange is the New Black). She plays Rosie, George’s ex-wife and Mayan’s mother. Although not a fan of auditioning for roles, Selenis said after she read the script for Lopez vs Lopez, she automatically knew she wanted the part.

“I was like, ‘I need this role. I don’t care what I have to do. Let’s get on board here,’” she told Remezcla. “It spoke to me because these people are flawed, but there is so much heart, grit, and truth to the stories. It’s a comedy where you can still find all these nuggets of richness and complexity.”

Much of that complexity comes from the relationship between George and Mayan, of course. This is Mayan’s first starring role in a TV series, although she did appear on one episode of George Lopez and had a small role in the 2009 comedy Mr. Troop Mom that starred her father. Despite not having too much experience, George knew his daughter would be able to hold her own.

“She always had this comic instinct since she was 11,” George said. “I remember once as a kid, she played the chef in The Little Mermaid. I was like, ‘Wow, man, this kid’s got that thing.’ So, to be able to see Mayan be so good so fast was amazing.”

What’s not so amazing in Lopez vs Lopez, unfortunately, is George’s twerking technique, which he gets to show off in the first episode. So, has his twerking improved since shooting the pilot? George has another dance move in mind he’d like to try instead.

“It’s my dream to do the splits on the show,” he said laughing. “I just have to perfect that one move, and it’ll be a tremendous ending.”

Lopez vs Lopez premieres Friday, November 4, 2022, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.