Hard to believe, but this is the last day of my interview with Eric Sheffer Stevens. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I did! Today, we take a look at what's coming up next for Eric, and some final thoughts on the acting life.
I know you’ve just finished up with SILENT HOUSE; are you working on anything right now? Do you have anything on the horizon? Or are you just appreciating a little time off?
Yeah, that’s good. I’ve been trying to get stuff done at home this whole week, stuff I’ve neglected for months now.
We’re developing a play that’s just about written. It’s a four-hander (four characters), a playwright that I’ve worked with before. Over the past year and a half we’ve also been doing readings of a two-hander (two character play) that he had written about a married couple. Right now he’s writing the four-hander. Jenny Mudge and Chris Coffey, my wife Jenny and I. The couples are mixed up, and it’s sort of – I don’t know how to really pitch it. It’s very funny and it’s really good. [The playwright] is about 60 pages into it, and we just had a reading of it last week. We’re sort of close on a grant to start a company that would produce this sometime next year when all of our schedules come together.
Eric and his wife Jenny in last summer's Much Ado About Nothing
And then it’s always a mystery as to what acting work comes along. You just start auditioning again, and something happens, and you start it two weeks later. I’m sure nothing right now, over the holidays. I’ll just be doing this, and then in January things are going to start up in earnest again. And I may be here, or I may go out to L.A. for a couple months, just sort of be back and forth a little bit.
LEFTY LOOSEY RIGHTY TIGHTY. Where is that in the process right now?
I just heard from them today. They think they’re going to have a rough cut next week, which is pretty amazing. It’ll still be a little bit of time before they have a final cut. Their deadline for themselves is the first week of December so they can make the cutoff for SXSW festival. I know James is working every single night on it. They’re sending it back and forth. The editor, who was also our DP (Director of Photography), is out in LA, so they’re doing a lot of filesharing and putting it all together. I haven’t seen any of it, except what you’ve seen, the teaser, which I loved. I’m going to go out there sometime this week to James’ house to go over the footage with him.
Well, we’re campaigning hard for the Seattle International Film Festival. Late January deadline. Plenty of time.
Sounds great! That sounds perfect, yeah.
Current TV lineup, broadcast and cable – what show would you like to be a regular cast member on, and what show would you like to guest star on?
MAD MEN, I’d love to guest star on. Just started watching that; it’s a great show. I’d love to go back in time and be a regular on THE WEST WING. That show was amazing.
Here’s another one that came through on Twitter. People were tossing out questions for the radio call in but didn’t get through. If you were to create your own primetime show, what kind of show would it be? Is there any kind of a feel to a show that you’re really drawn to, or just whatever happens to cross your plate?
I think anything that David Simon was writing, I would kill to be on. The guy’s doing TREME right now, he did THE WIRE, did HOMICIDE. That’s just amazing TV writing.
I’m sort of behind in TV shows. I don’t have cable, and so I watch things on DVD later. Much later. Sometimes years later. I still haven’t seen DEADWOOD; I’ve never seen THE SOPRANOS. I have kind of bizarre little quirks like that.
But yeah, I think it would be an hour-long drama, but also something bizarre and funny, which I think all good writing has. Tying all of the elements together, which makes the comedy more funny and the profundity deeper, by contrasting those two things.
I have some questions from my kids.
FutureStar: How did you become an actor? What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I was always interested, and I started doing it in college. I stuck with it, and it just sort of kept happening. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I’d just say pay attention to the story, more than to your own character. As far as how your character is telling the story and contributing to the story. For too long I just really wanted to be an actor. I was focusing a little too much on my role, my character, and not about storytelling. Something clicked for me when I realized that I was a storyteller, and that made me a much better actor.
Midkid: How early do you have to get up in the morning for acting jobs?
Yeah, that’s hard for me. Theater is pretty awesome because you start late. A lot of times you rehearse noon to eight pm, or ten to six. But TV you get up really early. Always before the sun comes up. It’s awful. And film, too, but they’re longer days. At least on [daytime] TV you’re getting up at 5:30 to be there at seven, but then you’re done usually at two or three. The worst day was five pm, but you’re not doing twelve hour days. They don’t do that. Film and [primetime] TV is often twelve or fourteen hours. You’re working from seven in the morning to nine at night on those days that you’re shooting. But no, you don’t sleep in.
GPS: How would you feel if you were a superstar?
I don’t think I would like it. Not what I’m gunning for. I think I would hate it. It just seems like you would lose a huge part of your life. It would be nice to skirt that and still make a living at it.
A huge thank you to Eric Sheffer Stevens for taking the time to talk with me, and for sharing so much with us all. And thank you to all the readers who took the time to keep coming back for more. I so appreciate it!
If you missed the earlier parts of the interview, links are below. And if you liked this interview, and want to read others in the series, check out the two-parter interviews with James Yaegashi, director of Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty, and Parrish Hurley, creator of "the (718)", a TV pilot.