Reid: Interesting hobby.
Luke: What?
Reid: Looking at photos of dead people. I prefer chess myself, but to each his own.

— Reid and Luke

Interview LiveBlog | ESS on OutTakes Talks (BlogTalkRadio), 26 July 2010

5.02 EDT UPDATE:

Grr…. I managed to crash two browsers trying to keep this updated, and ended up taking notes off line.  Highlights:

  • When asked point blank whether LuRe fans will be happy with the ending, Eric’s response was "I was. I loved the way (Reid’s storyline) wrapped up."
  • The writers "kept the integrity of the character throughout."
  • He cited Van’s hiatus and promised "things will pick up" and mentioned that they’re at a point where it’s less interesting to watch them talk about their relationship than to see them "actually having interactions, being playful"
  • Reid’s sarcastic but not a bad guy – reinforced the "no character assassination" message I got.
  • He would consider another soap.
  • The lemonade was ad libbed but the take that aired was not the first take.
  • Eric’s definitely a smart guy – fabulously articulate throughout, but responses also included "arduous" and "circuitous" (not really your dimestore adjectives!)

 

Listen to internet radio with OutTakes on Blog Talk Radio

 

I lost track of the times I cheered at both the questions and the responses. What follows is as close to a transcript of all the interesting parts as I could capture. I did not transcribe all the gushing or I’d have carpal tunnel in both hands.  Paraphrasing is rampant in questions. Responses are abbreviated, but verbatim as much as I could manage.

3.43pm EDT

Eric Sheffer Stevens will appear in a live interview on BlogTalkRadio in about 20 minutes. The interview is part of a series by OUTTAKES, which bills itself as "OUTTAKES are a series of interviews with various actors, directors and writers in the entertainment industry, ranging from theater, soap opera, film and primetime television."

The host says they will be taking calls about 15 minutes into the show at (347) 989-0605 and if there is time they will take questions of the chat forum.

To participate in the online chat, (I think) you need to register for the site, which requires you to respond to a confirmation email. If you are interested in this option, I would recommend that you go register NOW because it took 5-10 minutes before the confirmation email showed up in my InBox when I registered today.

To chat, the link is here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/flashchat/chat.aspx?HostUserURL=outtakes

3.55pm EDT

This is supposed to embed a player where you can listen. Right now a feature interview with Julia Barr (AMC) is playing. Host says they’re waiting for ESS to call in.

3.56pm EDT
Host reports Eric is on the line!

4.02 EDT

He’s on!

Questions about football (that’s soccer to you yanks). Host acknowledged the party in the chat room.

Outtakes: Question from Cecilia via email (paraphrased): Like many others, love Reid. When I heard about Benedick thought they were similar – "little bit of a smart ass" cynical, intelligent, wry. Fun to watch them surrender to love. Do you have an affinity for such parts?

ESS: See similarities. Difference – Benedick knows how to interact with people. Knows how to entertain. Merry. Vs. Reid is a loner but not to entertain. He’s entertaining b/c he’s a freak. Not on purpose. Not an affinity. They just came up in a row.

OT: You have bkgrd in classical theatre. Was that a hcoice.

ESS: I need a balance. Haven’t done anyuthing classical in 4 years – get a yearning. Don’t want muscles to atrophy. If too much Shakespeare I felt like I didn’t need to do it for awhile. Wanted contemporary. Lot of times don’t have a choice.

OT: Love for Shakespeare?

ESS: Yes. Gratifying. Fulfilling. Need to know what you’re doing. Totally different kind of work.

OT: Jenny? Have you acted together.

ESS: Last time was about 4 years ago. Not as easy as you might think. Negotiate it differently than with another colleague. It took us about 10 years. We went to college together. We’ve been doing shows together for awhile. We’ve figured it out. This is going VERY well. We’re having so much fun.

OT: RE: Lincoln Center play – Coast of Utopia (?) up for 10 Tony Awards, very popular. What was the experience like?

ESS: Amazing. Scale. Difficult to take in at the time how many people were in the show. The different kinds of people in the show. Tom Stoppard there. Very likely the greatest living English playright – there the entire time. Jack O’Brien (?) as a director. Almost impossible to surpass that experience. Trilogy that we ran in rep. In rehearsal for about 5 months vs normal 5 weeks. That was arduous. Amazing project. Will probably never be part of anything like that again.

OT: King Lear with Christopher Plummer. Something with Ethan Hawke, etc. Lessons learned? Anything that you took in working with legendary actors?

ESS: Hopefully you absorb stuff from from everybody. Named a bunch of other people. Always stimulated by people you work with. Working with CP was like being in school. Very aware the whole time that I needed to be soaking it all up. He was phenomenal. Him working on King Lear – to be part of that was very special.

OT: Calls waiting. Area code 267.

Jamilla (?): Looking forward to VT. Of everything you have donefavourite experience as actor? Defined you as an actor? 

ESS: I’ll say Reid (laughing!) I don’t know. It’s what you’re working on. There have been parts that I’ve really loved and didn’t want to let go of but I can’t pick one.

Jamilla: Favourite scenes as Reid?

ESS: Early on, loving not having relationships with anybody and being a complete goofball. The trial. Nobody knowin what to do with him. I think we were on again today (what happened today?) We had a LOT of fun doing that. When we were doing that we had a lot of fun. Van and I both said that w sa a fun day – that was a lot of fun. All the stuff back when I was tormenting Henry was fun b/c I know Trent b/c we did a play before. There was a scene with Katie (aw it hasn’t aired yet). Any scene where I’m eating. Not my idea (I heard Van say that). The writers came up with that. They kept htat in there. If there are other scenes where there is food I’d say I’ll be over there with the food.

OT: Area code 760.

Tracy: From CA. Did a great job promoting the LuRe fanbase. I watched for 40 years with mom and now watch with my daughtter. She’s here now.

ESS: Hi daughter.

Tracy: Was it hard to adjust to daytimje.

ESS: Yes. I knew off the bat I needed to change. Shocking how different it is. Very little rehearsal. You’re not quite prepared to do the scene when they’re ready to do the scene. The first day, the first scene I did I hadn’t even met Jake b/c for the first time in 3 years he overslept his alarm clock. It was a prop hell. I was holding a briefcase, a coat, case file and I had to look at my watch and then this blind guy comes in. I don’t really remember shooting that scene and looking at the back of Van’s head to to

then I ran Jake into the doorframe and they kept it and kept moving on. And I asked, and he said, "Yeah, I saw that." But when it was put together you didn’t see it. But after the first day I got home and said, I really nbeed ot work things out on my own. It’s a big differencen. Usually you have a big rehearsal and you’ve gone over it so man ytimes. With this you just have to memorise this. I’ts a great exercise. It’s helped me a lot.

Tracye: Can you ad lib?

ESS: You kind of have to stick to it or your scene partner’s not gonna know where you’re going. But you can ask, can we change this and then everybody will have an idea that you’re gonna mix something up. Early on someone asked to change a line and I thoguht OK. There was a scene with Katie where I carried around pictures (of surgeries) that didn’t work out. There was one where I say he would have gone to Juilliard. Juillard gets enough exposure and I’d gone to school in Alabama so I asked Could I just say he would have he would have played for Alabama. And it came out the week Alabama beat Florida. So I was very pleased with that.

Diane: I’m an emissary for large fanbase and they’re all they all afraid to call. We want to know if there is a kissing ban.

ESS: Gay relationships are definitely portrayed differently….Van was gone filming Occupant…From here on out things pick up! Now they’re in a relationship first and then progre— (notably: he stopped himself here and changed words) — see where that leads. They need to get to know each other.

Diane: I’m not a typical soap fan. I’m an English professor (?) and a poet (?) Sorry Diane, if I’m butchering your bio. Something to the effect of are you surprised by who your fans are compared to who you thought soap fans might be.

ESS: You have an idea of who everybody is….I haven’t met the cliché. This has definitely opened my eyes about it.

Raj: from NJ. What appealed to you about Reid? His obnoxiousness?

ESS: Yes. He’s ridiculously fun to play. He’s sarcastic but not a bad guy.

Raj: But you’re so different.

ESS: I’m not like him. But there’s a part of me in him.

Question: Would you consider another soap?

ESS: Yeah, sure! I would definitely be open for that. That’s the easy answer. But there’s only one where I live.

Tanya: What would you tell Reid if you had dinner with him?

ESS: Nothing’s coming to mind. I don’t think I’d make it to dessert. I know him REALLY well. He’s being slowly transformed by Luke and Dr Bob so there wouldn’t be much left for me to do.

Caller: I’m so nervous. My heart is in my throat.

ESS: Me too!  Very cute.

Question: On behalf of the LuRe fans, will Reid fans be happy with the ending.

At least on  my feed there was a VERRRRRY LONNNGGG SILENCE. So long that I thought I’d dropped the connection.  Then ESS responded and it didn’t sound like it had skipped a beat.

ESS. I was….I was happy with the way (the storyline) wrapped up.

Lisa from CA: Do you approach it differently because it’s episodic and don’t know what is coming next. ESS: It was really fun – kind of like choose your own adventure. Except I didn’t get to choose anything. But it was a lot of fun getting the scripts at the end of every week.

Lisa: Did you have a moment of “If I had known I would have played that differently?”

ESS: No, I haven’t. Van has said that he has because he’s been on for five years. Reid has an arc (a single story) because a month after I was there we found out the show was cancelled. But I didn’t find out something about Reid where I thought I’ve painted myself into a corner b/c something doesn’t make sense.

Lisa: Was the lemonade in the script?

ESS: No. That wasn’t in the script. It was b/c I got a direction to cross over there and I said why. And they said b/c I need you over there. So I walked over there, picked it up and tasted it, which was just WEIRD and said that’s not bad or something I think Van started laughing. He said that was a natural reaction and just played it. I don’t think the one that aired because then the camera man started laughing about it and the director said go ahead and do it. I walked in I don’t know why I’m over here. That was an ad lib.

Lisa: Reid fans all over the world laughed and loved it.

Caller:  How often do you do Shakespeare in Vermont since I can’t make it?

ESS: We did Twelfth Night 4 years ago. It’s unlikely that I’ll be involved in it next year. The theatre is run by John and Jena Nagel, classmates from Alabama. They asked me and my wife to do Beatrice and Benedick. It’s dreamy up there. It’s a very small production. We do five performances. This year another classmate is playing Dogberry and the stage manager was a classmate.  This will be our 10 year anniversary of getting out of grad school. But it’s not something that we do annually. No idea what I’ll be doing next year but you’ll be able to find out.

Caller: Sure it’ll be great.

ESS: Thanks, but it’s not looking that way right now – it’s at the very awkward stage!

Kate: RE: Shakespeare. What role do you want to play?

ESS: Hamlet. Haven’t done it yet. Everybody should do that.  Barroon in Love’s Labour Lost (sorry, I was a math major so I don’t my Shakespeare beyond the big ones – R&J, Macbeth, Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, MSN Dream). ESS described a production in grad school.  Seven-person wintersall (?) where we all did multiple roles, 2 dressers/dummies/mannequins. It was the most imaginative and best storytelling that I’ve been a part of . A lot of my favourite stuff is with the people I’m working with now. We work really well together and come up with good storytelling.

Question: More promotion of the fanbase. Mentioned the term Reidoholics ESS made a joke about 12-step programs. Given how popular you are, wondering what is your agent doing for you at this point?

ESS: Me too. There are less than 10 (TV) shows (who film) in NY so the TV comes around rarely. Not sure if I’m going to be trying to get stuff in LA. I can only see 3 months into the future as far as what I’m thinking about. I don’t make any longer plans than that. It’s all a real unknown. But you could call my agent… I can NOT believe he said that.  Poor agent.

Ann from CA: Thank you again for brilliant portrayal. Greatest characters in whole soapdom. Question is with the popularity of gay storylines on soaps, we’re watching on YT – do you think if Reid WASN’T gay he would’ve gotten this popularity online, etc.? Would have that have made a difference?

ESS: I don’t know. If he wasn’t gay, he wouldn’t be Reid. So I don’t know. He’s a great balance of things that the writers came up with and they maintained the integrity of that character. IF you take any one part away, I’m not sure how different he would be. It’s a big part of it, but it’s a big part of his storyline. I’m not sure how much people would want to see him being crabby with people. Now he’s sort of evolving. That’s about all I can say about it.

Caller: As an aspiring actress it seems that you were born to play Reid, but I was surprised to find you and he are nothing alike. How do you get into the role?

ESS: I think it’s good writing. I’m probably a little schizophrenic. Everytime I read one of those scripts I know how he’s supposed to behave in it and fortunately it’s worked. I don’t do any preparation and I just start saying those lines and start behaving like that. He definitely  behaves differently than I do.

Question: Raw talent?

ESS: It’s not raw talent. You work for a long time to figure out how to tell that/any story. Hopefully as you do more and more you get better at that storytelling aspect of it…..Im getting less articulate as we go on.

Caller: Missed the question – what makes Luke and Reid work/draws them to each other.

 

ESS: The more they’ve gotten to know each other. They interact really well together. I’m not sure why. If

Reid made a list, Luke’s attributes would not be on that list. That’s why he was initially repulsed by him. As he got to know him, he wasn’t who he had prejudged him to be. Even though he was brought up with a lot privilege and money, he’s not spoiled, he’s got a great sense of humor, he’s reidiculously (funny typo – that was NOT intentional, but I think I’ll keep it) charming. Over time Reid allowed himself to get to know him. I can’t make a list of things he IS attracted by, but Reid has a HUGE thing for him. Especially now instead of seeing them talking about it which is not nearly as interesting as watching them interact and being playful and having fun together. Hopefully I covered something that you asked about.

Caller: Did you get the (Luke and Reid) dolls – they were my niece’s idea – she’s right here.

ESS: Of course, I have mine. They’re fantastic. Tell her it was brilliant.

Host: One more question. This show has been WILDLY crowded and popular.

Caller: What medium is your favourite to do?

ESS: Don’t know if I have a favourite. Nothing really surpasses doing stuff in front of a live audience. Once you’ve rehearsed something and that feeling of doing something in front of an audience and kills like that, which is a good thing – that feeling, you don’t get that from other mediums. The actual work of doing film and TV is more fun than rehearsing a play. Rehearsing a play is very arduous. So, I guess if I had to pick right now, today at 5 to 5 I’d say it’s theatre How’s that for a circuitous answer?

Host: Thanks everyone for calling. You really have just a wonderful fan base. It’s terrific.

ESS: This has been fun.

Host: Shout out for VT Shakespeare.

ESS: I’m actually going to grab some dinner and head back to rehearsal for that show. (anything else?) That’s it.  Thank you – it was so great to actually hear people’s voices. I’m overwhelmed by the support people show for that character. It’s been fun and very enjoyable.

Host: Thanks everybody for participating .

ESS: Take care, thank you.

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