|Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC|
What's the biggest challenge in making that transition from theatre to television acting?
SP: There can be a lifted quality, a slightly lifted energy, in a play or a musical that works beautifully in a theatre environment. But when a camera is right up against your face, nothing can be lifted. It has to be uber-kitchen sink realism because the camera doesn't lie. And it's a terrible feeling to see yourself on camera making a false choice. Stillness and simplicity is really the key working in front of the camera — compared to being on stage where I feel like you're much more free to make bigger choices. But on "Do No Harm," I'm playing a larger-than-life character in Ian, who would probably be perfectly happy on stage, I'm sure.
Do you think "Rescue Me" and series television work that you've done helped to prepare you for playing the lead in a TV show?
SP: With "Rescue Me," it definitely helped to spend seven years just getting used to having a camera in your face. Because that's the biggest thing for an actor. Once you're used to having the camera in your face, then it's no longer an obstacle, and I feel like that's when it gets really fun and interesting. But it takes a long time to get used to that big giant thing staring back at you. It's weird.
What do you miss most about being on the stage that you don't necessarily get working in television?
SP: The theatre is an actor's and a playwright's medium. It's just the actors and a playwright's words. Whereas in television, you've got so many other elements that factor into what happens, especially in post-production. But that's not the case on stage. It's just a very vulnerable, courageous thing to be an actor standing on a stage. And, you know, I love it. I much prefer it, actually. I'm a theatre rat at heart. If I could enjoy the benefits of New York City and just live on an Off-Broadway theater contract, I would do that and only that.
But sometimes that's just not practical!
SP: No, no, not at all. We become grown-ups, and we have kids, and we have to save for college, and we want to go out for nice dinners. So other things become a priority. But I try to do a play every year. I'm probably going to do another one in the spring. So I'm just really excited to get back on stage again.
So does that mean we can expect to see you starring opposite Kelli O'Hara in Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Richard Greenberg's stage adaptation of the 2002 film, "Far From Heaven," which get its official world premiere this spring at Playwrights Horizons?
SP: I am 100 percent planning and hoping on doing the production in the spring, provided my television dates don't get in there and screw it up. As of now, I'm like 90 percent sure it's going to work out, and I'm really excited about it. In an ideal world, the show would be in April, May and June, I'd finish the run, and then go right back to work on the television series. But there's also the potential that the series doesn't come back for Season Two. In that case, of course, I'm totally available to do a play. So either way, I think there's a good chance it will work out.
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