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OFFSTAGE.

You started acting in your native Florida. How did you catch the bug?

I was a kid in the South who wasn't into any sports, so that kind of stood out. Then my parents found Young Actors Theatre in Tallahassee, and that was a huge gift to me. Arts education, even if you don't go into it as a career--certain personalities need it to thrive, and I was definitely one of those.

What kinds of roles did you play?

I remember in middle school, I wanted the role of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, but I was too obnoxious. So I played the Mayor of Oz instead.

By obnoxious, do you mean you had a big personality?

I wouldn't say a big personality. There was just a tremendous amount of energy--that's probably the nicest way to say it.

You've talked in recent interviews about dealing with anxiety, and about learning to be present, which sounds very close to the themes of Wakey, Wakey. Is that what attracted you to the play?

It did. Tim Simons, who played Jonah on "Veep," had seen it in New York and he's friends with Will Eno, and he was telling me how great it was. Then I read the play and it really resonated with what I just love to talk about in general. So I thought, what the hell, let's do it. And then of course, right after 1 said yes, all the "what if's started attacking my mind. address. Is that part of what's daunting to you?

Well, one thing I love to do is talk to students, to young actors, not so much about the craft of acting but about dealing with rejection, and kind of existential questions dealing with anxiety in the business. So this is a form of that, because it's a very communal piece of theatre. I'm just asking the audience questions and involving them in kind of an exercise of gratitude.

I know you have an active religious practice, and Will's play is so much about existential questions. Is that another key into the play for you?

It is. I'm kind of the guy who's like, at Hollywood parties, I just want to stand there and be like, "You know, we're all gonna die. This is completely fleeting, so let's just try to have a normal conversation." I love, hopefully not in a dark way--that obviously sounded very dark--just to kind of stir thought. I love conversations that bring the bigger picture in. You know, we're spinning on a planet, and we don't talk about that. We get very used to a normal which, if you look at the bigger picture, is actually very abnormal. You know?

Do you have outside interests that keep you going?

I'm pretty boring. I love hanging out with my family; my daughter's 13 now, so she's fully embarrassed by everything I do, which only fuels the fire for me to embarrass her more. Both my wife and I are from the South, so we like to go down there for the holidays. This business can be a bit of a hustle and chaotic, as freelancers always kind of looking for that next gig, so it's nice to be with family and just kinda settle. Having friends around the fire pit, just having a glass of wine--I'll take that over a massive trip to Italy any day.

You said you like to give advice to young people entering the business. What's an example of some advice you like to give?

I love that question. I always tell anybody who wants to get into the business or move to a certain place to kind of start their career, to invest in your community before you invest in your career. This is a very tough business. There's a tremendous amount of rejection, but when you have people around you who are seeing you beyond how the business is seeing you, that's what's going to give you longevity. That was key for me. That's definitely what kept me on it.

I have to say that in real life you sound much more grounded than your neurotic characters, Buster on "Arrested Development" or Gary on "Veep."

That's post a lot of therapy. I just dip into all that emasculation when I do Gary and Buster. Last night on Jimmy Fallon, he was playing Trump, and he wanted Gary to come out and hand him stuff in the bag. I was so excited just to get back into that role, because I miss him--I miss those rhythms. I miss being him and how needy he was. It's something that I myself am working on, but being a character who is so oblivious to anything is actually very fun.
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Publication:American Theatre
Date:Jan 1, 2020
Words:793
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