You've been a supporting actor on a number of different television series and miniseries, including playing Sean Garrity in "Rescue Me." But now you're a lead who's carrying the show and appearing in almost every scene. What's that adjustment been like for you?
SP: "Rescue Me" was an amazing experience, because it was a really rare ensemble of very funny people. So we all felt like we had our sort of moments to shine. But at the end of the day, it was Dennis [Leary]'s vehicle. I had a very cushy schedule, for lack of a better word. And the on-set experiences were really fun because it was a bunch of really fun guys. We weren't killing ourselves 16 hours a day on that job. So the difference is night and day just in terms of the workload and the pressure. I have to be really vigilant about taking care of myself and doing my homework and making sure I'm on top of everything, because it's my face — or rather both of my faces on the side of every bus. [Laughs.]
Speaking of that, what's it been like seeing your mug on the sides of all the buses and billboards promoting the show everywhere?
SP: You know what's funny? In Philadelphia [where we shoot], there are no billboards or anything around [promoting the show]. So I'm just getting text messages from every person in my life in New York, being like, "You're on my coffee cup this morning!" or like, "I'm waiting for the bus, and your face is staring back at me!" and "There's a billboard of you outside my bedroom." It's just crazy. But I'm actually not in New York to experience it, so it's kind of a strange thing.
Has your wife caught your face on billboards or on buses in L.A.?
SP: Yes! In fact, they have a running joke at her show, "Go On," where they're like, "I saw your husband this morning on the way to work. He's terrifying."
Tell me about making that transition from stage to screen. Was trying your hand at television and film work always a priority and part of your career plan? Or did it just sort of happen?
SP: I've always wanted to be one of those lucky actors who got to do plays and TV and film — and musicals. So I've just been really lucky in that for a long time I've been able to kind of go back and forth. But they're very different skills, and I feel even stronger about that now as I get older than I did as a young actor. Some people can't do both. It's interesting. Like I've seen some of our most brilliant film actors just fall right on their face on stage. And vice versa.
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