"I got out of my cab last night in Houston and I had 22 messages from people asking me what happened," said Diaz, a comedian who plays "Big Tony," one of the football-playing inmates in the movie that will be released nationwide this weekend. "I said, `Hey, I'm from North Bergen. I didn't see nothing.' I know better than to say anything."
Reynolds allegedly slapped the producer, when the producer said he didn't see the 1974 original version of the prison football movie, starring Reynolds.
When the 42-year-old Diaz saw the finished version of this remake, he made the mistake of trying to compare it to the Reynolds classic.
"The first two times I saw this one, I kept comparing it to the original," said Diaz, who attended the grand premiere Tuesday night with a slew of friends from his native North Bergen. "I shouldn't have done that. The next time I saw it, that's when it really hit me. I'm in that movie with all those stars. I didn't realize it before. It's like a dream to me."
Diaz, who has been performing, mostly as a standup comedian, for the last decade, got his big break for this movie by preparing his own catchy audition tape.
"I went out and bought a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet that was too small for me to make the tape for the audition," Diaz said. "The producers said that they wanted star names for the movie, but the audition tape got me a part. I originally was only supposed to have four lines, but now, I'm in the whole movie."
The movie does have its fair share of stars, both of the movie and sports variety. The movie stars are represented by Sandler, Rock and Reynolds. The sports stars include former Dallas Cowboy great Michael Irvin, former pro wrestling standout Goldberg, grid greats Bill Romanowski and Brian Bosworth and recording star Nelly.
"It should be a huge release," said Diaz, who previously had bit roles in movies such as "Taxi," with Queen Latifah, "Dickie Roberts, Child Star," with David Spade, as well as "Spiderman II" and "Analyze That."
"It should be the biggest movie of the Memorial Day weekend," Diaz said. "It's getting a lot of play."
Diaz knows that the movie could be a big break for him, because as "Big Tony," he could become more recognizable.
"I just want to continue to work as a character actor," Diaz said. "That's the path I want to take. I feel this could be a big break for me, but I am also realistic and know that I have to keep working. It's like a dream come true for me. I'm a street thug from North Bergen and now I'm running with the big dogs. I always felt like I was a Triple A baseball player, just waiting for the call. Now, I got my call and I have to make the most of it."
Diaz isn't resting on his laurels. On Friday and Saturday night, Diaz returns to his old stomping grounds and will perform his standup act at the new Comedy on the Hudson on Marin Blvd. in Jersey City. Each show begins at 8:00 p.m.
"It's absolutely a homecoming," Diaz said. "I talk about North Bergen all the time. I know how funny North Bergen is on paper. Growing up in North Bergen, I learned how to be funny. Life in the Mocco era, now that was funny."
After his two-night stint at Comedy on the Hudson, Diaz will return to Los Angeles, where he currently resides, and will continue to do work on his one-man comedy show entitled "Larceny & Laughter," which also features growing up in North Bergen.
"As the only Hispanic growing up in an Italian neighborhood, you learn fast to be funny," Diaz said.
That show is slated to be done at the Comedy Central Theater in Los Angeles in August. He may even try to write a sitcom about his hometown.
"It will be like the OC, except we have to get the NB on the air," Diaz said.
Diaz said that he was happy to bring his pals to the premiere of the Longest Yard.
"They were so proud and happy to see me," Diaz said. "They were my family growing up. I lost my mom when I was 14, so these people raised me. North Bergen raised me. They're all a part of me."
So how did Diaz feel about his performance in the movie?
"The last thing I want to see on film is me," Diaz said. "I don't want to look at me. When you see the movie, the first thing you'll notice is a group of guys having fun. That's the first thing that will come to mind. We had a ball making this movie. It's like a bunch of 35-year-old guys going to summer camp for the first time. It really was a dream come true."
So it's safe to say that Diaz is living the good life, a hit movie and a standup comedy career.
"Even though I look just like Ricky Martin, I guess I'm living la vida Coco," he said.
North Bergen native Joey "Coco" Diaz will be performing his standup comedy act at Comedy on the Hudson, 360 Marin Blvd. in Jersey City on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15.00. For more information, either contact the box office at (201) 217-8900 or log onto www.comedyonthehudson.com. Diaz also appears in "The Longest Yard," which opens in theaters nationwide this weekend.