Interview with Eric Sheffer Stevens, Part One
In Which We Discuss His New Movie, The Business of Acting, and Some New Projects
Three years ago, I had the good fortune to interview Eric Sheffer Stevens here on this blog. So when I heard about his new movie, I reached out to see if he'd be up for another chat. Luckily, the answer was yes, so earlier this week, I sat down on the phone with him and had a great conversation. I'll be posting it in sections over the next week or two. Enjoy!
Congrats on the new movie. Can you tell us a little about it?
Thanks! Yeah. I spent two days on this. It’s called Life Itself, it’s a film about this couple that bought an apartment I think in the sixties. It’s Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. And they are thinking about selling it, and all the issues that that brings up for them – whether or not they really should leave…
They do test it and put it on the market. Cynthia Nixon plays Diane Keaton’s niece, who’s acting as their real estate agent.
So I’m one (half) of the first couple to come see the place and walk through it. And, uh, I’m sort of a jerk.
Did you get to do any of the work with Morgan Freeman or Diane Keaton? Or just (Cynthia Nixon’s) real estate agent?
Both, or all three. Yeah, it was really, really fun. It was a thrill to work with all three of them. It was a really nice set. Warm. Like I said, I was only there two days, but they were having a really fun time. The director’s name is Richard Loncraine, and I think they’re on schedule, and –
Oh, CRAP. I totally forgot about an email I was supposed to respond to. I think they finished wrapping. I was invited to the wrap party. Talking about it made me think of that.
Oh, well. I may have missed the wrap party.
The creative professions – acting, dancing, directing – it’s kind of an odd job. Because there’s no such thing as long term steady work where you sign a contract and you’re working for years. But more like peaks and valleys, and most of it based on the whims of other people.
So how do you deal with that kind of ebb and flow?
In a very … zen kind of way. I try not to look very far into the past or very far into the future. It’s a mystery. And I think the more you treat it as a mystery, the less frustrated you get with it. Especially the longer you’re around it.
And you also learn – if you’re able to step out of it and look at it – to appreciate it for that very same reason. You’re trading the security of something for having multiple adventures. For being guaranteed adventures. And you never know what they’re going to be. You’re just open to that experience when it comes along. So you trade knowing what you’re going to do tomorrow for being surprised by what’s going to come up.
Over time, as you look back on it, it’s a pretty great trade. That’s kind of my perspective on it.
I like that.
So I’d gone quite a bit after Teenage Daughter, and then I’m in the middle of kind of a flurry of things right now. But all during that year, none of that came up, but it was just part of the mystery of it. Like, “Wow, that’s strange.” But I have plenty of other things that I do that make life full, and that I enjoy, actually. And that isn’t just that one thing. So I have time for those things. And then jobs come along, and that’s nice, too.
I did a guest spot on Elementary, the Sherlock Holmes show on CBS with Jonny Lee Miller. I just did that a couple weeks ago. (Note: Episode is scheduled to air November 21.) And I’m going to do The Good Wife in a week, and Nurse Jackie in a week.
So, yes, you are very busy!
Yeah, that’s what I mean! Isn’t it strange? I mean, you go through this sort of (slow) time, and then things all pile up on each other. There was actually a conflict between these two, and I was like, “How can there be conflict? I’ve been wide open acting-wise for so long.” I almost didn’t get to do one because I was working on a different show.
So that’s the mystery. You have to honor the mystery. (laughs)
Tune in next Tuesday for the second installment, where we'll talk about IHMTD, Los Angeles, and working on a sitcom.