PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: "Boardwalk Empire" and Bad Jews Star Michael Zegen

By Matthew Blank
15 Oct 2013



Must-see TV show(s): "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," "Girls," "Boardwalk Empire," "Walking Dead," "Game of Thrones" and MTV’s "Catfish."
Last good movie you saw: I’m in it so perhaps I’m biased, but I thought Noah Baumbach’s "Frances Ha" was really terrific.
Some films you consider classics: "True Romance"
"The Goonies"
"Back To The Future"
"Boogie Nights"
"Pee Wee’s Big Adventure"
"Big Lebowski
"Rushmore"
"Ferris Bueller’s Day Off"
"Annie Hall"
"Fight Club"
"Willow"
"Shawshank Redemption"
"Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Tracee Chimo
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Emoji
Three favorite cities: New York, London, San Francisco
Favorite sport/team/player: Baseball/Yankees/Cap’n Jeter
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: I believe it was a cassette single of MC Hammer’s "Addams Family Groove"
First stage kiss: My buddy Alex Anfanger in Greg Moss’ punkplay. So very awkward.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I played the title character in my kindergarten production of The Gingerbread Man and never looked back!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) It’s tough to eat beforehand, but the Bad Jews can usually be found post-show at St. Andrews Pub on 46th St. Mad shout-outs to Surly Scottish Sarah!
Favorite liquid refreshment: I’m into juicing (as those who know me can attest), so I usually start the day with a refreshing green juice!
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: As soon as “places” are called, I pound fists with my brotha Phil Ettinger, strut a jig with Tracee and have a dance party with Molly Ranson and Joe Heaton, our production assistant. Never a dull moment backstage at the Laura Pels.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: I had a full-blown panic attack during my Bar Mitzvah. I think that trumps any forgotten line or theatrical mishap.
Worst costume ever: It was a skin-tight skeleton unitard for Liz Meriwether’s Oliver Parker! Wait, maybe that was the best costume ever.
Worst job you ever had: After college, I worked at my dad’s law firm, and he has since told me that I was “the worst employee he’s ever had.”
Craziest audition story: I auditioned for Woody Allen last year. It wasn’t necessarily crazy. In fact, it was pretty standard, as far as auditions go. But yeah… Woody Allen. Crazy, right?
What drew you to this project? Josh Harmon’s brilliant dialogue. See the play, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
What has been the biggest challenge so far? Keeping a straight face on stage. We like to have fun.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of this show? Hearing those laughs from the audience. In my opinion, there’s nuthin’ better.
Most challenging role you have played onstage: This would be it. For sure.
Favorite screen/commercial gigs: "The Walking Dead" is probably the most fun you can have as an actor. It’s not everyday you get to stab a zombie in the face!
Leading man role you've been dying to play: It’s not technically a “leading man,” and I’m definitely too old for it now, but it was always my dream to play The Artful Dodger.
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at: I think I’d make for a very precocious Annie.
Something about you that surprises people: I’m not 12.
Career you would want if not a performer: Treasure Hunter. Not an archaeologist, per se. Just a dude with a metal detector searching for buried relics.
Three things you can't live without: Pomegranates, baseball hats and eBay.
"I'll never understand why…" … people don’t turn off their cell phones when they go to the theatre. Do they think the rules don’t apply to them? TURN THEM OFF!!!! Jerks.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Make things happen for yourself. Shoot for the stars!