Thursday, December 02, 2010

Interview with Eric Sheffer Stevens Part Four

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

He’s just sold the film rights to this other script, so he’s in L.A. all the time. All of us are in different places. But that’s what we’re working on right now, this week included. Taking some time to all work on it together, try to move it closer.

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.


fatherbananas said...


traci said...

I'm sad that it's over, but brilliant job, Kate! Loved every word of it! Great questions (from the kids, too) and his answers were honest and interesting! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Thank you so much for giving us the gift of this interview. I love his insight into things. Especially about actors being "storytellers". And that he wanted to be on my all-time favorite show, "the West Wing". If I didn't love him before, I would have loved him solely for that.

The questions from your kids were great, and adorable! My kids would have said: "I wish my Mommy wasn't so obsessed with you so she could cook us dinner every once in a while!" LOL

Thanks again. <3

JoAnne :)

Kimberly said...

Again Kate thank you so much for bringing us this interview. It was amazing, job well done. And thank you to Eric as well for taking the time to do the interview. I am sorry to see it end as well.

One sentence stuck out for me in this part. It was the beginning of the answer to one of you child's questions:

Midkid: How early do you have to get up in the morning for acting jobs?

Yeah, that’s hard for me.

I could almost hear Eric answering that. Too funny. Nice to see he is a regular guy who would rather sleep in most days... lol

Cannot wait to see what the future has in store for Eric.

Thank You Again! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for doing this, and I'm glad you had the opportunity. Thanks for sharing this with us, and I really do hope we all get to see him in so many more things in the future.

And he might not want to be a "superstar" but we sure would like that because that would mean a lot more of him.

Becky said...

What a great interview! I wondered if he watches Treme, since the same guy did The Wire. Being a New Orleans native, I thought Treme was brilliant. Also, one of my favorite shows was West Wing...and Aaron Sorkin always writes amazing characters.

I loved this interview. You had some great questions. Thanks SO much! Becky

Miss Ripley said...

AH! Eric loves "The West Wing"!
As if I couldn't love him any more than I already do... <3

Another fantastic edition! Thanks so much, darling!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful series of interviews, Kate!

He's just so--so--Eric. There's definitely Reidisms in his speech patterns and point of view. It's very clear he wants to "skirt" being a superstar. I think the soap fandom convinced him of that!! I love what he said about storytelling, and how he's a person who's clearly defeated the worst of what happens when one is driven by ego. Cracked me up that he doesn't have cable and that he watches shows years after they end. That somehow doesn't surprise me--and laughed that he called it one of his bizarre quirks. I'll bet he has several.

Again, thank you.

Jenny said...

A+! Fantastic that you got to interview Eric. The questions were all interesting as were the answers. I'm not surprised he doesn't want to be a superstar. He does have a rare talent though and I hope we get to see much more of it!

Thanks for doing this!!!

rolsfan said...

Thank you so much for the interviews. I love that he doesn't have cable. I always think I'm the only one. Most of the shows people talk about I don't know and probably will never see. I've never seen The Sopranos either. I loved that he loved The West Wing. That was one of my favorites, too.

Jana said...

Big thanks for interview, it has made my week much brighter and happier.

Gwen said...

What a wonderful interview, you asked such amazing questions! And Eric's answers are so interesting and lovely.
Thank you so much for posting this interview!

ltklo said...

Thanks so much for the entire interview. I loved the questions from the kids. I don't want ESS to be a "superstar" either, I just want to be able to see him often as a working actor.

I think that David Simon is the best tv writer and "The Wire" and "Homicide" are the best tv shows so it tickles me that ESS thinks so also. He would be over the moon if he was cast in a David Simon vehicle.

ltklo said...

Oops! ESS maybe would be over the moon but I meant to say that
I would be over the moon if he was cast in a David Simon vehicle.