PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Jeff Hiller of Shakespeare in the Park's Love's Labour's Lost
23 Jul 2013
Jeff Hiller, who plays Nathaniel in the Public Theater's world-premiere musical Love's Labour's Lost at Shakespeare in the Park, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
New York stage credits include Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (Broadway and Off-Broadway), Awesome '80s Prom and Silence! The Musical.
He has appeared on screen in "30 Rock," "Ugly Betty," "Starved," "Guiding Light," "Ghost Town," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "Psych."
Full given name:
Jeff Raymond Hiller (It’s just “Jeff,” no “rey.” But I will answer to anything cause I love attention.)
Where you were born/where you were raised:
San Antonio, TX
Sagittarius… unless that means something bad to you, and then fill in the sign you feel I best represent.
What your parents did/do for a living:
They are retired now, but my dad was a mechanical engineer and my mom was a CPA, so obviously I’m an actor now.
One sister, named Melissa, who is married with two great boys (they are the real comedians in my family).
I can make it look like I am threading an invisible wire through my lips and controlling it with my hands. It has come in handy exactly zero times.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Trying to sing flat (humble brag in the HOUSE!)
First Broadway show you ever saw:
I saw an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis starring Baryshnikov on a family trip to NYC when I was a kid. My mom got the tickets from TKTS. I’m sure it was a fascinating show, but let’s just say it was not what inspired me to become an actor.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls. Anyone who says different is a liar or a monster.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations as a young actor?
I watched a LOT of sitcoms, and I am pretty sure I developed comedic timing from Bea Arthur in “Golden Girls” reruns.
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
I have been in L.A. for the last year, so I haven’t seen much, but I just saw Here Lies Love and I dug that a lot. Also, I tell people to see Matilda if they have kids and Kinky Boots if they don’t. I haven’t seen either, but that doesn’t stop me from pretending I know stuff.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
“Change” from A New Brain. I’ve never met Mary Testa, but I wouldn’t mind being her best friend.
Follies, Godspell, Falsettoland, Spitfire Grill, Violet, The Last Five Years – I could go on for a really long time.
Some favorite modern plays:
I know it doesn’t sound very unique, but I loved August: Osage County. Also Take Me Out, Wonder of the World and Ruined.
Some favorite modern playwrights:
The Qwan Company
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Gilda Radner. I have a surprisingly specific fantasy about our two-person show on Broadway.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
I started out as an improviser at the UCB theatre and I saw a show by the improv team “Respecto Montalban” where Dannah Feinglass and Jackie Clarke played soft-spoken serial killers. It was the first improv show I saw and it BLEW. MY. MIND.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
"Music" by The Weepies (Oh! Is that why they’re called that?)
You personal acting idols:
David Hyde Pierce. I love his timing.
MAC or PC?
A MAC. I like the sleek silhouette.
Most played song on your iPod:
Well, I just checked and it's Rihanna’s “Only Girls in the World,” but I swear to you it’s only because I did it at Our Hit Parade one time. Oh all RIGHT! I am obsessed with Rihanna! SUE ME!
Last book you read:
“We Killed” which is a book about women in comedy. Did you know that Elayne Boosler was the first female stand-up to break from the “Clubs?"
Must-see TV show(s):
“HGTV Star” (cause I love an accent wall)
Last good movie you saw:
"The Heat" - that movie is FUNNY. You should totally see it!
Some films you consider classics:
"Mean Girls," "9 to 5," "Showgirls" (they’re not all classics for the same reason)
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters. So yeah, I saw A Little Night Music twice. In my head that seemed like a cooler thing to brag about than what it looks like in print.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Artistic competition shows. I might be the last person in New York still watching “Project Runway.”
Three favorite cities:
New York City (forever!), Austin, TX (cause my family is there) and Los Angeles (cause they put avocado on everything).
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
It was either “Losing My Religion” by REM or “Joyride” by Roxette. So, I’m either really cool or really not cool.
First stage kiss:
I have never had a stage kiss. The fool never gets the girl or the boy. But, he DOES get to eat carbohydrates.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
When I saw "ET" at four years old and discovered there were child actors. I didn’t become a child actor, but God I wanted to be one SO bad.
How you got your Equity card:
Look, I am gonna be honest here. I sometimes tell people I got it when I did The Awesome 80’s Prom, but that is a lie. And now it is on print and online.
Here is the truth. I got it by being a roaming character at the haunted-house-themed restaurant, The Jekyll and Hyde Club. It might not be the most prestigious beginning, but it’s the only performance of mine that Patti LuPone attended.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.