EPISODE 377
Josh Peck
Act Your Way Out Of The Dark

Mark speaks with Josh Peck, author and one of Hollywood's rising acting talents that made the seamless transition from child actor to leading man. Originally being known for children’s series Drake and Josh, he became fascinated with the process of child stardom, weight loss, recovery, and fatherhood, leading him to publish his own memoir, Happy People Are Annoying.

Josh Peck
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Show Notes

Today, Commander Divine speaks with Josh Peck, actor and author of Happy People Are Annoying. In the episode, Josh shares his experience with child stardom, weight loss, recovery, fatherhood, and the story of writing his memoir about finding happiness.

Key Takeaways:

  • Transitioning takes reinvention. Mark and Josh discuss the power of starting from scratch and not resting on your laurels when it comes to successful transitions. Whether it be from the military or taking on your next acting plateau, the skills of humility and honor are your best friends. 
  • You must act your way into right thinking. Josh shares his battle with food addiction, alcohol and drugs, and recovery – detailing his darkest moments and how he was lucky enough to shake himself out of it. It was through action, not thinking, that he was able to shift. Trying new things gives us the material to form lasting change. 
  • Happy people are annoying… to unhappy people. Happiness is a fleeting feeling, and is not found through joyful moments. It’s through doing your best and finding contentment in doing it that way. The inspiration for Josh’s book title has less to do with finding happiness and more to do with authenticity amidst the facade of it. 
  • Hard work pays off. Josh shares his constant craving for challenge, his love for acting, and how his hard and disciplined work has shaped his career for the better. He also values rest and taking time for himself, his friends and family. As with all things, moderation is key. As Josh’s friend says, “Even too much sunshine can bring about a desert.”

Quotes:

“And comedy is one of those rare things that immediately graduates you from the kids to the adult table. So I think it was this perfect storm of like, I’m the man of my house, because there’s no Dad. So I want you to treat me the way I believe I should be treated, which is as an equal, and I don’t want you to pander to me, or talk down to me because I’m a kid. And I certainly don’t want you to be making fun of me behind my back, or shaming me for being overweight. So let me take over the energy of the room. And the best way I know how to do that is by being funny. And I watched my mom do it my whole life. So I just kind of emulated her.” Josh Peck

“So in the sense of doing my job, I might have to take this person’s life. It creates these intense moral quandaries, but you deal with it, you have to deal with that. And when you come through the fire of that, assuming you can then overcome the post traumatic stress, which inevitably comes from that, then you have a community of individuals who can be great leaders and great exemplars for our society which has zero moral compass, zero ability to discern honor from, you know, average, and we’re in a really chaotic time right now. And I think our veterans and I’ve been pretty strong vocal proponent of this, our veterans are our greatest asset. We’re like a national asset, we’re not broken, we don’t need fixing, we don’t need pity. We need to be brought to the frontlines, right to teach and to guide and to lead our culture through this current time, right?” Mark Divine

“The thing that rubs me wrong, as far as being an actor goes, and I always laugh about this. But the words, what have you been up to lately are kryptonite for an actor, because if someone has asked that, it means you don’t got much going on.” Josh Peck

“Well, I would say that I never learned anything on a good day, that pain is a great motivator. And that if you’re feeling hopeless, and sick and tired of being sick and tired, you know, there’s a great line in recovery, that says, your best thinking got you a front row seat in AA. So maybe, maybe you should listen, you know, and stop thinking so much. So I would say that if you’re in a completely lost and hopeless place, it’s painful. And I’m sorry, you’re there. But also, it’s a great place to start.“ Josh Peck

“And it would be easy throughout most of my life to be like, oh, there’s a guy, in shape, military elite, like he doesn’t get me, you know, he doesn’t understand. And that’s how I looked at the world, right? Attractive people or successful people, or they didn’t really understand what was going on in life. And I’m here in the muck in the doom and gloom, and this is really what it’s all about, you know, trudging through life. And it was only through walking through experience and facing it, and being willing to live life on life’s terms that I was able to sort of redefine what happiness was for me.” Josh Peck

“Yeah, [happiness is] incredibly fleeting. It’s like the weather, it sort of comes in and out. And I realized that sort of the universe demands balance. My buddy is, so he says, ‘Too much sunshine brings about a desert.’ And so as quickly as those nice buildings are coming, challenging ones are coming, and they will be intertwined in this valley of ups and downs, you know, until the sun heats the earth. So it’s good to not attach yourself to either side.” Josh Peck

Mark Divine 0:05
Coming up on the Mark Divine Show.

Josh Peck 0:07
I’ve never been able to think my way into right action. I’ve always had to act my way into right thinking. I had to physically disrupt my cycle, and with that that was seeking help for the first time and getting to that place. But I’ve been beaten into a state of wounds. I’ll show up six days a week. I’ll hobble in here.

Mark Divine 0:31
Hi, I’m Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show, where I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. My guests include notable folks from all walks of life, motivational scientists, nutritional experts, peace crusaders, and even comedians like today’s guest. In each episode, I distill the reMarkable experience of the guests into actionable insights to help you create your most compassionate and courageous life possible. Today, I’m talking to one of Hollywood’s rising talents, and childhood actor, one of the few who successfully and seamlessly transitioned from child actor to leading adult actor who recently wrote a memoir, HAPPY PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING. Josh Peck talks about child stardom his weight loss and recovery. fatherhood, training by Navy SEALs for Red Dawn. It’s going to be an incredible conversation. Josh is well known for his role in the Nickelodeon phenomena Drake and Josh named after him, for which he received the Kids Choice nomination. It spurred his career where he started many feature films including Mean Creek, the Wackness, along with Ben Kingsley, Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth. Danny Collins with Al Pacino, Annette Bening and Jennifer Garner. Take the Ten with Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen, and coming up this year on Netflix The Musical co-starring Debra Messing. Currently, Josh is in the Disney+ Turner and Hooch series, and will be starring in the highly anticipated Hulu series How I Met Your Father and iCarly Reboot on Paramount+. Josh has 32 million fans on social media. Holy crap.

Well, Josh, thanks for joining the show. Hooyah.

Mark Divine
Set aside the impression that you think people have of you now… as an childhood actor, now an adult actor, author, millions of followers, all of that aside, who gives a shit? How did you formulate your early impressions of who Josh Peck was? Like, where did you grow up? What were your parents? Like, what were some of the kind of early traumas? You know, what was the young Josh, like that started to shape who you are today?

Josh Peck 2:38
I think it’s a great question. I mean, I never knew my dad growing up. So I think that immediately is sort of an interesting inheritance. And it’s funny, you know, I’ve talked about this book a lot. And I was on my friend Yannis Pappas, who’s a great, great comedian, I was on his pod. And I sort of gave this stock answer about myself, because I’ve been asked it a lot of like, I thought that I was born without the same manual that everyone else gets when they arrive on this earth. You know, a manual for living, how to navigate the world, abiding by the social contract that I just, it seemed to have been missed on me that I never received this guide for life or this blueprint for living.

Mark Divine 3:20
Because you didn’t have a father or do you just think you’re special?

Josh Peck 3:23
It’s funny, because then Yannis said, Oh, you mean a dad. He’s like a dad would have done that. It’s like, Ah, gotcha. And I had an incredible mom who did more than, you know, 50% of the work, she did more than one parent could. And yet, I think there were still certainly some glaring sort of blind spots there. So I think in looking back at myself as a young person, I was sort of a guy working from some limited means, but doing the best that he could.

Mark Divine 3:54
Did anyone ever fill that gap for you, the dad gap?

Josh Peck 3:57
I was lucky to my mom’s credit, again, knowing that she could do as much as she could as an incredible sort of tiger, a single mom. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t give me all of it. She got me a big brother from the Big Brothers Foundation, when I was saying,

Mark Divine
What a great organization, really special.

Josh Peck
And I mean, giving money’s important, but I think if you can give your time that just is so much. My big brother and I, Dan, we we have a very special relationship. I think statistically, in Big Brother, Big Sister, they tend to the relationships lasts anywhere from three to 10 years, you know, usually through kids adolescence, but we’ve stayed close now for almost 30 years. He was the best man at my wedding. So I was so lucky. I’ve been so lucky to have him and, and honestly, my father in law has sort of served as a great male figure in my life.

Mark Divine 4:49
Okay, well, how old were you when you got married? I’m curious because you’re still a young guy. I was compared to men.

Josh Peck 4:56
Well, you look great, but I was 31.

Mark Divine 5:00
I got married at 31. That’s a perfect age. Yeah, that’s awesome. So, your mom, let’s just cut to the chase. Was she involved somehow in the industry? You know, air quotes. How did you stumble upon being a child actor?

Josh Peck 5:14
Yeah, not at all. She wasn’t in the industry in any way other than she was kind of an unrealized performer herself and great singing voice, hilarious, you know, would take over any party or any room and start telling jokes. You know, like old, she was like a Joan Rivers type. I think that probably when she saw her kid had a bit of an affinity for performing, which was why she kind of was the jet fuel behind me and certainly supported me because she didn’t get that support herself. But no, it started for me doing, you know, stand up comedy when I was eight or nine years old, because I found an ad for an agent in the back of an acting magazine in New York. And I wound up meeting him and he said, Well, I rep comedians of all ages. And I said, perfect. I’m all ages. And he said, I can get your five minutes at a comedy club if you put an act together. So I kind of Frankenstein’ed together some jokes and heard my mom tell impressions, making fun of school observations. And I put five minutes together. And that’s what, you know, was my first entrance in the show biz.

Mark Divine 6:19
That’s cool. Now, so I’m curious, what was it that caused you to think that you were funny? Was it a sense of neediness to be seen or heard because of this, maybe lack of a father figure or what was it in you that was propelling you forward to this? Or do you think it was a karmic thing you just kind of came in as a comedian?

Josh Peck 6:37
Well, I was fat. And so that sort of informed a lot of my decisions growing up, because I felt like people, there was no body positivity. Then in the 90s. It was like, oh, if you’re fat, I think most people made a knee jerk reaction, even if they loved you, that you were slovenly, lacked willpower. I hated walking into situations feeling as though I was at a disadvantage. And so I didn’t even want to be special. I didn’t want to be extraordinary. Because I was always different, right? I was the kid of a single mom, I was into musical theater instead of sports. I was fat, like, I had no desire to stand out, I just wanted to be on the same level as everyone else. And comedy is one of those rare things that immediately congratulate you from the kids to the adult table. So I think it was this perfect storm of like, I’m the man of my house, because there’s no Dad. So I want you to treat me the way I believe I should be treated, which is as an equal, and I don’t want you to pander to me, or talk down to me because I’m a kid. And I certainly don’t want you to be making fun of me behind my back, or shaming me for being overweight. So let me take over the energy of the room. And the best way I know how to do that is by being funny. And I watched my mom do it my whole life. So I just kind of emulated her.

Mark Divine 8:02
No, that’s really cool. You know, and it’s not lost on me that some of the most beloved comedians had a weight problem. I mean, John Candy, Jim Belushi

Josh Peck
Yeah. Chris Farley.

Mark Divine
And no, unfortunately, they let their weight in their drugs and alcohol, you know, be the end of them, which is really unfortunate, because they were just brilliant. Human beings.

Josh Peck 8:19
Yeah. And people would always compare me to them growing up, but it wasn’t. These guys were geniuses. They weren’t like you’re a genius, like them. It was just purely because of girth. And like, if you’re fat and funny, don’t you want to be these guys. Never, to your point, factoring in like, well, these guys are brilliant, but their demise wasn’t, you know, the prettiest.

Mark Divine 8:40
That’s right. Yeah. Okay, so that was 10 years old or so that you started to do the onstage stuff. What happened from there, give us kind of a little bit of a scope of how things unfolded for you.

Josh Peck 8:53
You know, I booked a movie for Paramount when I was 12 years old, which was also with this huge kids network called Nickelodeon. And I started making one of the crew people laugh one day, some guy in his 40s that I was just giving some jokes to and my mom sort of slided over after she saw me making him crack up and said, you know who that is? That’s the president of Nickelodeon. You should tell him that you want to be on one of his TV shows. And so I did and cut to nine months later, he flew my mom and I out to California to be on what was one of the first sketch comedy shows for kids called The Amanda Show. It was kind of like a young Carol Burnett and and that eventually spun off my show Drake and Josh, which was, it’ll easily be one of the things I’m most remembered for if the only thing. But and by the time I was 14, I had a show with my name in it.

Mark Divine 9:46
That’s pretty cool. You make any money with that stuff. Or how did that work out?

Josh Peck 9:50
No, I didn’t want to mention it in the book, the specifics. Luckily, my buddy Ryan Holiday, who’s a brilliant

Mark Divine 9:58
Ryan he’s a great guy, right? He’s a good friend of mine. Yeah, he’s a bad phenomenal author.

Josh Peck
He’s the best.

Mark Divine
We love you, Ryan,

Josh Peck 10:06
Ryan, man. And I’ve known him thankfully for the last 15 years. And when I got this book deal, I called him and I said, I don’t know, literary terms so I put this in showbiz terms. I know I want to write this thing myself. I don’t want to go straight there. But I need like a producer, somebody to read pages and give me notes and make sure I’m not completely shanking this thing. Can you help? And he said, for this, like, small fee, I’ll read everything. And I’ll give you notes. And it was perfect. When we got to this part, he said, you have to say how much you made. And I said, Why? That’s unusual talking about specifics and money, it’s gross. And he said, I know the reality because I know you. But before I knew you, I assume like everyone else that you should be set for life when a show like this ends. And if you’re not, it’s because you messed up.

Mark Divine 10:56
But yeah, that’s exactly the assumption that most people will bring to a relationship like, you know, or to an expectation of a childhood actor unless the parents stole it, which fits into the messed up category.

Josh Peck 11:08
It’s so true. So I talked about that over, about over five years of shooting the show, in total, we made $900,000 gross, but you clear about half of that after 20 percentage manager and then taxes, she make about 450 grand over five years, which is about 100 grand a year, which certainly is a nice amount of money to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle. But anyone who quit their job making 100 grand a year, you would never think like, oh, now you’re set for life. You’d say, well, what’s your runway until you have to work again? So at 19, when the show ended, I knew I had about 18 months left of runway before I would have had to work, you know, a nine to five or just find any kind of work. So it was important to me that I at least wanted to sort of correct maybe any sort of misnomer that was out there.

Mark Divine 12:04
Yeah, no, I think that’s really interesting. And I, it’s news to me as well. That’s why I was curious about it. I had a sense. It’s kind of like pro sports. Everyone thinks that if you make it to NFL or NHL or you know, NBA, whatever, you’re suddenly rich, but you know, no, right? The new guys, and if you only last a few years, which is pretty normal, you don’t you don’t make that much money.

Josh Peck 12:25
It’s an interesting world to navigate. And it’s not making more, making less, it is what it is. It’s more about, I think just that public perception of like, well, if you’re not only making blockbuster movies from here on out, like why would you be taking this job that seems not as prestigious? And it’s like, well, sometimes you’ve got to pay your rent.

Mark Divine 12:46
That’s right. Not many childhood actors have kind of made a transition to adult actor, and also comedian and you know, whatever the you know, so you’ve made it a transition. I don’t know how graceful it was, we’ll get into that. Why is that? Why is it that most Hollywood acrots kind of end at that stage and have to move on to something else?

Josh Peck 13:05
I think they’re living in the shadow of an anomaly, which I have suffered from in moments, or at least my ego has screamed out saying, but don’t you know, and didn’t you see? And why aren’t these huge heights of my career, whatever, why isn’t everything predicated upon that instead of sort of resetting itself down to a default level? I think a lot of them are, you know, there’s a level of entitlement of like, well, don’t you know, who I once was? And thankfully, I never suffered from that. I mean, it can be a bit maddening because showbiz is so much like sales. You know, we all on a certain level benefit from you know, you live a good life, and you want to benefit from establishing goodwill over years and years. And, you know, we all want a great Yelp review. But inevitably, in this business, it’s sales you know, you’re only as good as your last sale. So, I was incredibly lucky that I love acting. It’s this mystery and puzzle that I’m still enamored with, that I know I’ll never get a perfect score on. But somehow I continue to do the work and have interesting results. And I’m lucky in that way. Steve Martin said that, he’s like, if I have any superpower, it’s being obsessed. So for me, I think that’s what was my saving grace through all of this is that I didn’t care about the billboards, I didn’t care about the red carpets I cared about doing the work.

Mark Divine 14:37
And I think that that’s a lesson for everybody to not rest on your laurels, you know, like glory days, like Bruce Springsteen said. You know, I see a lot of my SEAL teammates like being a SEAL is pretty heady, as you can imagine. Sure, only a couple 1,000 of us and you know, we get money thrown at us to do the most incredibly cool things that any guy would want to do. And then when you leave the organization is like Yeah, I was a SEAL, you should still fucking love me? And the answer is no. What do you got for me now? Right? Right? The same thing with professional sports, all sorts of different types of individuals suffer from that. And so the humility. McConaughey, he said it pretty well in his book Green Lights where he was like, you got to be willing to face the reinvention, you know. By every time you have success, just clear the table and begin the reinvention process. Because that success isn’t necessarily going to repeat itself. And it’s in the past. And so what’s the future? Josh, what’s the future look like?

Josh Peck 15:36
Do you find Mark that because people are so enamored with, I would say, the military but SEALS and that level of being that elite and that well trained, it couldn’t for a certain type of person, it could be hard not to lead with that, right? Because it’s like, going to Harvard, like people are like, wow, like, that’s fascinating. Tell me more.

Mark Divine 15:58
That’s true. Everybody wants a piece of you as a SEAL when you get out. And it’s easy to get trapped into the sense that you’re special, without having to prove once again, and prove every day that you’re willing to do the work, you’re willing to serve and show up. And the only thing that makes you special is your capacity to serve and to lead, you know, with humility, and with honor. It has nothing to do with the Trident that was on your chest, and that you still have a right to be proud of. So you’re absolutely right, a lot of our teammates get trapped. And actually, honestly, that’s one of the things that leads them into a little bit of existential angst, because, you know, being at the SEAL is like being at the pinnacle, you know, it’s like being a star. And then all of a sudden, you know, the Navy says, you’re done. Don’t let the door hit in the ass. And then you’re looking out at society for meaning. And some of them write books and shit. I’ve written my books, but I didn’t do it, because I was pounding my chest, I did it to teach people. And so that’s what really served me as like, I’m gonna teach people, I’m gonna give them back, you know, the taxpayers paid millions of dollars for training that I had. And I learned a lot of other skills along the way through meditation and breathwork as an early pioneer in those skills and visualization. So I want to teach others what I’ve learned. And that really helped me find meaning again, outside the SEALS.

Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here, from the Mark Divine Show, to hear a short message from one of our partners. And now back to the show.

Josh Peck 17:35
I had a friend who was in the Marines, and part of, sort of, the early invasion into Afghanistan. And he talked about how he’s like, you know, a lot of these people. They didn’t know that, necessarily, like, they weren’t in the Taliban, they just saw us sort of invading their their home, they didn’t quite understand the gravity of what was going on. He said, and so when we would sometimes get in battles with these people, there was an honor to them that they like believe that they were fighting for their home. And he’s so when I get back to LA, or New York, and you’re being a shithead, in the line at Starbucks, said, it’s hard for me not to think back to those people that I looked at, who I believed had more honor than you, or that, you know, the person who’s upset about their latte. And I imagine, that must be such a challenging reacclimation process for a soldier and someone who’s seen these kinds of things.

Mark Divine 18:36
It can be and I think it’s also one of the great gifts that veterans bring to our culture. Let’s just say America, in this case, because we’re both #Americans. In that we’ve basically gone and we seen how other people, let’s say, the honor of the freedom fighter, or the Taliban, even if they were our enemy, a warrior can respect his enemy, in fact, has to respect the den in me, otherwise, you lose your humanity. And we saw that with people who lose their humanity and those, that’s when you commit war crimes. And so you see your enemy, as yourself as a human being who’s fighting for their home was fighting for their freedom. At the same time, I’ve got a job to do. There’s a reason that we’re here. You know, it’s not my job to question, although I can in my most quiet moments. But I’m honor bound and duty bound to do my job.

So in the sense of doing my job, I might have to take this person’s life. It creates these intense moral quandaries, but you deal with it, you have to deal with that. And when you come through the fire of that, assuming you can then overcome the post traumatic stress, which inevitably comes from that, then you have a community of individuals who can be great leaders and great exemplars for our society which has zero moral compass, zero ability to discern honor from, you know, average, and we’re in a really chaotic time right now. And I think our veterans and I’ve been pretty strong vocal proponent of this, our veterans are our greatest asset. We’re like a national asset, we’re not broken, we don’t need fixing, we don’t need pity. We need to be brought to the frontlines, right to teach and to guide and to lead our culture through this current time, right? Because it’s just wandering all over the place. And people are arrogant, and people are entitled, and people have learned, you know that the quick fix is the best path forward when you and I know it’s not hard work, self awareness and constant honing the edge of your skills. That’s the path forward.

Josh Peck 20:38
Yeah, it makes so much sense. And I remember listening to a podcast with Jocko and hearing him echo what you just said about like, he basically said, like, the thing that will, that is 100%, like you will lose out in BUDS or in training is if you’re not teachable. And as soon as you think you know everything about your enemy, and you lose that respect, he’s like, remember, they’re always getting smarter, they’re always adapting to make it harder on you. And he’s like, as soon as you lose that respect for your enemy, he’s like, you are in an incredibly dangerous place.

Mark Divine 21:14
100% Jocko is awesome. I love him. And he’s done some great work. And he’s right. I totally agree with what he’s saying. And that speaks back to this idea of humility. And even, you know, to tie it back to you and your profession. It takes great humility to, you know, have a success like your show that you were named after, and then just like, Okay, what’s the reinvention? What’s the next version of myself? And not to think your shit doesn’t stink. And you know, to let go of the arrogance, the neediness to be seen as someone special and just say, okay, how can I show up now and serve? How can I make people laugh in your case? How can I, you know, what’s next? Always be thinking, what’s next. In terms of reinventing oneself? I think it’s critical for everyone listening to know that we’re in our age of reinvention, you know, we have to be constantly looking forward and saying, what’s the future hold for me, because it’s moving so freaking fast, and is changing so fast? The VUCA, right, of the world is on us. So we got to be reinventing ourselves. And then we have to make reinvention, a natural skill.

Josh Peck 22:17
So true. The thing that rubs me wrong, as far as being an actor goes, and I always laugh about this. But the words, what have you been up to lately are kryptonite for an actor, because if someone has asked that, it means you don’t got much going on. But also in this world of streaming, and all these different things, it’s understandable that unless you’re Mark Wahlberg or you know, a gigantic movie star, you could be certainly working and people just don’t see it. And so they always want to know, like, what have you been up to? And tell me about this? Or like, what’s going on here? And it’s in those moments that I just want to be a dentist. No one ever says anything new with teeth? Like no, they just assume you are cleaning and doing root canals. And it’s like, I don’t want to be like, Yeah, I did this thing on Hulu. And you know, some people saw it, some didn’t. And did this thing on Disney. Plus, it was a nice, like, I just want to be like, I don’t want to list things to you. Or this is my favorite question. Where do I know you from? It’s like, I don’t know. But thank you, I’m glad you know me at all.

Mark Divine 23:24
Yeah, well, that’s just our culture, and tax that you pay for being in front of a lot of people.

Josh Peck
Sure.

Mark Divine
I’m not famous by any stretch of imagination. But when I have someone who comes up to me in an airport and say, Hey, you’re Mark Divine, I read your book, thank you very much. It helped me a lot. I’m like, wow that’s really cool. You don’t, I mean, I helped this person. And so they you know, to me, that’s the flip for actors. Like, if someone was entertained by you, you just served them. But gosh, you know, when fame has a serious tax, beyond what you’ve already stated, how do you deal with a tax of fame where people are projecting, and you know, it’s like, needing something from you that you just didn’t have to give them? Because a lot of people have been ruined by that, you know, especially the seriously famous.

Josh Peck 24:10
Totally, you know, it’s important to take that pause, you know, pause when agitated restraint of pen and tongue, just, you know, being careful to honor people and being appreciative and grateful that you can have an effect on people. And also, you know, even simple ways, like my son’s three and a half now. And I noticed about a year ago that when people would come up, or maybe ask for a photo that he was really starting to clock it. And I would put him out of the photo because I didn’t want his photograph everywhere. And eventually he started to kind of like look, and then he started taking his own cue and walking away. And I just felt like, this is infringing on our time together. And so I just made the decision that like if I’m with my son, and granted if it’s a kid that comes up to me that’s one thing, but if like a grown up comes up to me wants a picture, I’ll say like, Hey, it’s great to meet you, thank you so much, we can have a nice moment. But I might not take the photo if I’m with my son. And that was just kind of me making a decision to honor him and honor myself in that respect, knowing that and by the way, 99% of people couldn’t be more, you know, understanding.

Mark Divine 25:23
I love that, that’s basically taking your power back and not being codependent to the fan base, you know, and saying, hey, you know what, I’m a human being too. And you’re not gonna get a picture with me today. And be okay with that.

Josh Peck 25:34
Yeah, and it’s funny, because I find we have a much nicer moment, like, where we’re just talking and being like, Hey, nice to see you. We’re neighbors, as opposed to like, if I’m not with him, and you want a photo, I just go, alright, come over, come over, and we do it. And then it’s very transactional. But this way, I’m like, looking at them saying, I’m so sorry, I hope you can understand. And when they give me that energy back being like, I’m a parent, too. I totally get it. It’s like, oh, we shared a moment of understanding as opposed to just like a transaction.

Mark Divine 26:03
Yeah, that’s really cool. Let’s kind of shift focus a little bit. What was the catalyst for you to kind of deal with your, your weight and your health issues? And you know, it sounds like you got involved in some unhealthy habits. Tell us about that journey in the darkness and how you got healthy, because you’re extremely healthy today.

Josh Peck 26:21
I think, you know, overall, my foray into food, and then eventually drugs, and alcohol was just that I overdid things. You could have two kids from the exact same family with the same rearing the same trauma or lack thereof, and one might have that addictive component and the other doesn’t. So I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think they’ve isolated that gene yet. But I do think there’s a bit of just you were either born with it, or you’re not. I certainly was. And so my first foray into that was with you know, eating, as most kids are introduced into, like, overeating birthday cake, or snacks from the closet. And then inevitably, it turned into me being 300 pounds at 17 years old, wind up losing 120 pounds, but I was the same head, and now a different body. And so I needed a new medicine, then I found drugs and alcohol, they had so much more efficacy, but with such bigger consequences and side effects. And then after four years of kind of, basically, you know, setting my life on fire, I realized that it was going to be me or the drug me or the vita-food me or the, you know, rushing for force towards prestige and success, like nothing could fill me up. And that’s when at 21, I got into recovery, and I’ve been sober ever since.

Mark Divine 27:44
Okay, so was it your own consciousness who said that, had the conversation? Or was it your big brother that hold your ass into recovery center? Like, how did this… if someone listening is going, Josh, how’d you do it? Because I’m in that place right now.

Josh Peck 27:57
Well, I would say that I never learned anything on a good day, that pain is a great motivator. And that if you’re feeling hopeless, and sick and tired of being sick and tired, you know, there’s a great line in recovery, that says, your best thinking got you a front row seat in AA. So maybe, maybe you should listen, you know, and stop thinking so much. So I would say that if you’re in a completely lost and hopeless place, it’s painful. And I’m sorry, you’re there. But also, it’s a great place to start. You know, I had to, I’ve never been able to think my way into right action. I’ve always had to act my way in the right thinking. I’ve had to physically disrupt my cycle. And, and with that, that was, you know, seeking out for the first time and getting to that place. But I was also, I had been beaten into a state of willingness, which is also why I think if someone’s not in that place, it’s really hard for them to change. And you kind of have to just sort of lovingly detach until that person is ready. And it’s usually through catastrophe. It’s usually that they have to hit a bottom to really be ready, in my experience.

Mark Divine 29:08
Yeah, no, I agree with that. And I think that has one of the wisest things I’ve heard in a long time. I haven’t been able to think my way to right action, I’ve had to act my way to right thinking. That reminds me of in the sayings I use in the seals, or even now was that doubt is eliminated through action. Right? And so if you’re unclear about where to move, just move, right. Because that’ll create the loop for learning. And so this is all about learning about ourselves if things aren’t working, move towards something healthy, whether it’s AA or finding a mentor, or, you know, asking for help, and then go from there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you don’t have to solve the whole puzzle today.

Josh Peck 29:47
It’s the thing that kills me about like, I have a buddy who’s my age, he’s older. He’s like 40 but like young guy, like reasonably young and he just, he was jokingly comparing himself to like, the old crotchety you know, sort of those like, you know, Archie Bunker types like.

Mark Divine
Cranky.

Josh Peck
Yeah, Cranky non PC. And he’s like, I’m not changing, you know, like, this is me now. And I’m like, I hope not. Like, I don’t ever want to be that guy. That’s where I try not to be too critical of like, Gen Z or the, you know, or do that thing of that music’s no good or whatever. I just tried to say like, well, maybe I’m just not the audience or, you know, I’m not equipped to understand that. But I’d like to, because I don’t want to get too set in my ways.

Mark Divine 30:35
Yeah, that’s awesome. So the book, let’s talk about the book, HAPPY PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING. Great title, by the way. Are they really annoying? Or is that just a catchy title for you?

Josh Peck 30:47
It’s probably a catchy title. I mean, I think I just assumed happy people, as I said, before, were like…

Mark Divine 30:53
You mean like fake happy people?

Josh Peck 30:55
You know, I don’t even know what version of… I just assume most people, you know, it’d be like, here we are. Mark, you and I are talking. And it seems already that we have this, I mean… Maybe you’re just a great podcast host, but it seems like we have a really nice shorthand, and, you know, a language of the heart. And we couldn’t come from more different, probably, backgrounds and circumstance. And it would be easy throughout most of my life to be like, oh, there’s a guy, in shape, military elite, like he doesn’t get me, you know, he doesn’t understand. And that’s how I looked at the world, right? Attractive people or successful people, or they didn’t really understand what was going on in life. And I’m here in the muck in the doom and gloom, and this is really what it’s all about, you know, trudging through life. And it was only through walking through experience and facing it, and being willing to live life on life’s terms that I was able to sort of redefine what happiness was for me.

Mark Divine 31:59
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here, from the Mark Divine Show, to hear a short message from one of our partners. And now back to the show.

You know, I think that’s why your book is so valuable, is because you’re not presenting this image of perfection, or, you know, I’m this super successful person, you know. You’ve walked through the fire, and you’ve stared down the wolf of fear.

Josh Peck
Right.

Mark Divine
And you’ve come out and now you found what a true sense of happiness is. Which is not like, happy, glad wrapper. It’s contentment, right? And peace of mind. And that’s rare. So people, you know, they mistake humor, they mistake, pleasure for happiness. And happiness is, those are moments, right? Those are moments of maybe joy. But that’s not to be confused with happiness. Happiness is that contentment you feel you know, when you, when you know, you’re doing a good job, or the best job you can as a father, right? Or a husband, or a mother wife, you know what I mean? And that you’re just showing up every day doing the best you can and you think, okay, everything’s okay. Right? That’s happiness.

Josh Peck 33:11
Yeah, it’s incredibly fleeting. It’s like the weather, it sort of comes in and out. And I realized that sort of the universe demands balance. My buddy is, so he says, too much sunshine brings about a desert. And so as quickly as those nice buildings are coming, challenging ones are coming, and they will be intertwined in this valley of ups and downs, you know, until the sun heats the earth. So it’s good to not attach yourself to either side.

Mark Divine 33:41
I love that. And that’s profound. And to take that analogy a step further. The sun is always shining, on the other side of the clouds, right? And so to start identifying with the sun is always shining, regardless of the clouds and the storms of your life.

Josh Peck
Totally

Mark Divine
That requires non attachment, you know, to the drama.

Josh Peck 33:59
Love it. Love that.

Mark Divine 34:00
So is acting like forever in your future, like what’s kind of in the future for Josh?

Josh Peck 34:06
Gosh, I don’t know, you know, I’ve had like this great two years of work in traditional, you know, TV and movies and but most importantly, like, I have acting class on Thursday, and I’ll say it and right now until resumed, but normally, it would have been sitting in a black box theater with 14 other working actors, mostly people who are, maybe have yet to book a lot of credits and some people who have been working for 20, 30 years and we’ll put up a scene and be critiqued by our teacher and, you know, work on it and bring it back the next week, hopefully better and with some new insight. Like, again, that I have this thing that, you know, through so many times of like, getting a bad review or not getting that thing that I thought was in the bag or someone telling me you know, the business has really changed and XYZ here are the reasons why it’s going to be harder. Like, somehow the audition comes, I print it out, and I start breaking down the script. Like to your point, I just move, I just put one foot in front of the other. So I don’t know, if I woke up one morning and I was like, I did it. I’m done with that side of things. I don’t think that would be bad, either. I’d be fascinated to see what was next. But for the last 20 years, it’s been this stupid thing, I can’t let go.

Mark Divine 35:27
I love that. There’s a couple of things you said, which I think are awesome and crucial. One is, you’re still a student. You’re not showing up on Thursday nights to teach or to be the guy who’s been there done that, you have that what we call the beginner’s mind. And I try really hard to keep that as well. It’s like, I’m always a student. You know, if you think you know, that’s when ignorance sets in. The more knowledge you have, the more ignorance you have.

Josh Peck
You’re right.

Mark Divine
You should always be emptying your cup. So that’s profound, good job with that. And that’s something to model for others. And then this idea of just being surprised by what shows up. I love that, right? Because all we have is today. Ultimately, all we have is this moment. And so to develop that surprise by what’s going to show up, and that then allows for spontaneous creativity. Spontaneous invention, newness, right? And you’re not always working off of memory.

Josh Peck 36:23
I think that’s so true. And, you know, I don’t want to be a fat guy with a black belt. You know?

Mark Divine 36:30
I know a lot of those dudes.

Josh Peck 36:31
Yeah, man. And I go, like, I believe you did what it took, then. I always say like, if you need, if you need relationship advice, ask someone who’s in a relationship you look up to, right? And don’t ask your single friends. You know, I know plenty of guys who smoked two packs a day or twice divorced and are always right. I don’t want to be that.

Mark Divine
That’s awesome.

Josh Peck
So can I tell you my Navy SEAL stories so that…

Mark Divine 36:56
You can tell your Navy SEAL story, yeah, I want to hear that. And I don’t want this to end, because I’m having so much fun talking to you. So yeah, let’s, let’s talk about your Navy SEAL story.

Josh Peck 37:04
I do this movie Red Dawn, which is a remake of the 80s one.

Mark Divine 37:07
I remember the 80s version. I never saw the remake. Now I gotta go watch it. Now that I know you’re in it.

Josh Peck 37:12
It’s Chris Hemsworth. And it’s me. And it’s this big badass…

Mark Divine 37:15
Wasn’t Patrick Swayze in the original one or who was in the original?

Josh Peck
Yes, Swayze and Charlie Sheen.

Mark Divine
Oh, my God, that was classic.

Josh Peck
And so I go to do it. And they’re like, we’d like you to get in shape before you start doing the movie. And I was like, always room for improvement. Sounds great. Not sure what you’re going to do, because I do about 30 minutes on the elliptical a day. So I’m in pretty good shape here. So they go well, let’s just try. So I go to this warehouse in Inglewood and meet these two guys, Dave and Logan. This was 2008, 2009. Both Navy SEALs. I’m sure, Mark, you’ve had experience with this. Like in show business especially, you’ll meet a guy again who’s like, you know, in his 50’s kinda let himself go. And he’ll be the advisor or the trainer and he’ll reference having some elite military training.

Mark Divine 38:09
They’re all over the place. I saw a meme. This is kind of an aside, I saw a meme the other day. They were 200 Navy SEALs in Vietnam, and I met 1,000 of them. That’s awesome. Yeah. Anyway, so these guys were legit, sounds like?

Josh Peck 38:24
I was like, basically like, when were you discharged in the military? Like six months ago. I’m like, Oh my God. I was like, Okay. Wow. And what was fascinating about these guys, which I love so much about the SEALs was Logan was a sniper. And so he was six-six, like, looked like you know, carved out of marble. And then there was Dave, who was probably five-seven stocky, looked like he had crawled through some vents.

Mark Divine 38:54
Yeah, totally. I know exactly. You’re talking about seals come in all shapes and sizes, and some surprising ones as well.

Josh Peck 39:00
Like totally capable bodies, but like, no pretty muscles, just like guys who could get it done. And they proceeded to kick my ass for the next two months. We literally had the greatest time because… and I think what we talked about on the pod is, I feel lucky that because I don’t have any of that like, high school memories of the time I caught the touchdown pass. Or I have no like delusions of what I once was. I bared myself to them saying like, listen, I know what I’m lacking. But I know I can work hard. That’s all I know. Physically. I’m never going to be at the level that you know most of these guys, and comparing myself against other actors like a Hemsworth or Chris Evans. Like, I’m just not that. They’re gifted in ways I’m not but I’ll show up six days a week. I’ll hobble in here. And I think they respected that. And so we just had the best time and I think they respected that I lost all that weight. So they’re like, oh, you can’t and do it if you put your mind to it. I just remember, it was five days of a brutal workout. And then it was Saturday. And they said, it’s Saturday, let’s switch it up a little bit. And Dave comes over and he throws this huge harness on me and it’s connected to a Mack truck tire.

Mark Divine
Those are funny.

Josh Peck
We’re gonna drag this for a mile. And he must have seen the color drained out of my face. And he smiles and goes, Don’t worry, I’m going to do it too. And we just like, walked and bullshitted and dragged this tire over asphalt for pride took me two hours, but it was great.

Mark Divine 40:35
That’s awesome. Yeah, I honor you for that. Two months is no joke. I trained, my company SEALFit and I, trained the actors for the TV show Six, which is all about, you know, SEAL Team Six, right? All but one of them quit about six times. And it was only five days of training. But we, I mean, we brought it hard. But they all had, in the pictures they all looked like frickin muscle up guys. And I’m like, what do you do to train? Are those like implants, you know, because none of you are fit at least the way I defined functional or Navy SEALs would define fit. It’s fascinating. So did that training build some confidence? Because normally, you know, Navy SEAL training isn’t just about the physical, it’s about developing mental toughness and resiliency.

Josh Peck 41:20
Absolutely. I had lost a bunch of weight. But again, to your point, like I was sort of working out here and there wasn’t a lifestyle. From then I don’t think I’ve gone, unless I’ve been injured, more than two weeks without working out. But I almost always am working out five to six days a week, just moving my body in some way. And I really embrace the suck workouts and I’m that’s what I’m most proud of. Like, I’m really good at push ups pull ups, air squats, like, some powerlifting moves. Like I don’t do anything… all the things that people hate most in the gym that they try to avoid, like just legs in general, most men just don’t train legs. And I, you know, heavy kettlebells… I love it. I love it.

Mark Divine 42:02
That’s awesome. Yeah, so we got to wrap up here. But that brings me to kind of like, I mean, you’re already getting into your, what does a day and Josh picks life look like? So what does that look like? What’s your morning routine? You just described your kind of functional fitness workout. What else? What else do you do that keeps you healthy and sane and motivated?

Josh Peck 42:21
You know, I wake up around 6am with my son, and I’m making breakfast, getting ready for school and take him to school and be back home by like, eight or 830. And then it’s about doing something functional. A hike or workout or boxing, yoga. And then it’s just about doing some kind of work, you know, be it social media, creating a funny video, doing some writing, you know, if I don’t have like a specific show up to set at this time type job, it’s like, well, what can I do within my own power. And so I’ll do that. And then hopefully, some version of taking care of myself be it doing like sauna and cold plunge doing a massage. Something, I need to get better with that. Or maybe it’s going to a meeting, or just seeing a buddy, you know, it’s just like something that I can do that I know, well, just trying to be nice to myself too, and not making it singularly about work. Because that can be a trap, too.

Mark Divine 43:17
Obviously, you have a strong relationship. What practices do you do with your wife to deepen the relationship and keep it on track?

Josh Peck 43:26
I think it’s still being reviewed. You know, we’ve been, coming up in a week, we’ll be married five years, and I’m still learning, you know, I still need to get better. I still want her to read my mind. I get upset when she doesn’t. We’re doing better with communication and all that. So I think recently, we announced, you know, we’re having a second kid, which will tell her things.

Mark Divine
So that’s exciting

Josh Peck
It’s great. We’re just like navigating, you know, it’s like also realizing like, okay, we have a three and a half year old, which is beautiful. But can, you know, stress us and there’s going to be a new kid in the mix. So it’s honoring this idea of like, you know, there’s no perfect days. It’s just about you know, trying to get a little bit better every day and lack of reaction is almost always the key, I have found.

Mark Divine 44:13
No, I agree with that. That’s the practice and is of itself. Awesome. Josh, what an honor it’s been, gosh. If there’s anything we can do or I can do to support you. Don’t hesitate to reach out and, and I’m here to serve you. Anyway, again.

Josh Peck 44:25
Thank you. It was such a pleasure. I’m so glad we got to chat. Thank you for having me.

Mark Divine 44:30
Ya know, it’s been an honor and I know everyone’s gonna love this conversation and folks can reach you like where? Where do you like people to kind of like learn about your work? Follow your stuff?

Josh Peck 44:39
Sure. Yeah. I have my own podcast called Male Models. So Mark, you’re welcome anytime because the title male models.

Mark Divine
I’d love to do it. Yeah.

Josh Peck
And then Instagram Josh Peck. And HAPPY PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING, wherever books are sold.

Mark Divine 44:54
HAPPY PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING. Josh, thanks very much, buddy. It’s great talking to you.

Josh Peck
Thanks Mark

Mark Divine
And Hooyah from the SEAL teams yeah. All right, what a great episode, what an incredibly humble, awesome guy Josh is man. I really really enjoyed this episode, learning about his life, his upbringing, his childhood acting, his humility, his overcoming obesity and drug and alcohol addiction to become the actor and the man he is today as a father and husband, you know, an all around great guy. My favorite quote from the show is I’ve never been able to think my way to right action. I’ve had to act my way to right thinking. This is a great episode, you’re not gonna want to miss it. Shownotes are up on MarkDivine.com You can find a video at our YouTube channel MarkDivine.com/YouTube. You can reach me on social media, Twitter @MarkDivine, Instagram and Facebook @realMarkDivine, find me on LinkedIn. If you’re not on my weekly newsletter, Divine Inspiration, then go to MarkDivine.com and subscribe and share it. In that I disseminate top of the mind things, inspirational people, habits, products that inspire me, I give a summary of the week’s podcast and my blog comes out just once a week. Again, go to MarkDivine.com to subscribe and if you like it, please consider sharing it with your friends.

Special shout out to my amazing team, Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell, Jeff Torres, who helped produce this great podcast, and bring these incredible guests like Josh to us every week. Reviews are very helpful. So please consider giving us a review wherever you listen to this show, and continue to share it and it really helps us get the podcast in front of people who can benefit from it. As you know, the world’s changing fast. It’s up to us to become the people that we want to be around. And so that takes work. And that’s my mission is to help people step up their game. Do the work of introspection, self awareness, growth, humility to become great leaders, great exemplars, and to be part of changing the culture changing the world in our image. This is Mark Divine. I’ll see you next time.

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