PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Jeff Hiller of Shakespeare in the Park's Love's Labour's Lost

By Matthew Blank
23 Jul 2013

Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I just get a simple tossed salad at Lenny’s ('cause I’m a lady)
Favorite liquid refreshment: Makers Mark on the rocks ('cause sometimes I’m not a lady)
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Lots of stretching – you know, putting my legs behind my head and shoving my fist in my mouth and stuff that we dancers do.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: During Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson I accidentally threw a knife in to the audience.

You ever accidentally thrown a blunt object at a large group of people who are sitting in the dark? It is an unsettling feeling.

Worst costume ever: When I did Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas I wore a pod to mimic the body of the muskrat I was playing. It looked great for a muskrat, but way too pear-shaped from a human perspective.
Worst job you ever had: It’s a toss up between handing out condoms while wearing only a towel at a bath house during HIV prevention week and waiting tables at an Olive Garden.
Craziest audition story: In the Roundabout Space, the bathroom is INSIDE the audition room. I auditioned for a reading in that room while I was having some dietary issues.
What drew you to this project? What crazy person isn’t drawn to The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park? Or to working with Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman?

Plus, I’ve been in L.A. for the last year, and I am ready for a New York Summer – cause I look great when I am covered in my own sweat.

What has been the biggest challenge so far? I guess the language of Shakespeare poses a challenge, but it’s been really exciting to get back to it for the first time since college.

So, I guess the biggest challenge has been being in the rehearsal room with Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (he won’t read this, right?).

What do you most enjoy about working at The Public? When I first moved to New York, The Public Theater seemed like the classiest slash down-towniest place in the city, and I never even entertained the idea that I would ever get to work there (I mean, this is where Cassie first danced with the mirror!).

Now that I have done two shows there and lots of performances at the Pub, I feel very proud that I am a part of the place. A HUGE part of that place. I would say I am third after Joe Papp and Meryl Streep.
Most challenging role you have played onstage: I did a fringe show called Air Guitar: The Musical. I was… not good.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? I would go back to Silence! The Musical and play my track one last week. Not just because I love that role, but also because the theatre is really close to my apartment.
Some favorite screen or commercial appearances: I played a naked ghost in "Ghost Town" which I enjoyed because I got to show off all of the work I have done on my body.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: This sounds like I am making a joke, but I really want to play Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie. I think I would bring something to that role that would be unique.
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at: Mame!!
Something about you that surprises people: I used to be a social worker.
Career you would want if not a performer: I’d either go back to social work, or maybe be an interior designer. Maybe I could do it for low income housing and do both! Holy cow. Did I just create a new path for myself?
Three things you can't live without: My partner Neil, love of family and friends and Chipotle burritos.
"I'll never understand why…" … those people on “Catfish” are surprised.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s cause that will drive you crazy. Also, floss every day. Toothlessness really limits your options.