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Exclusive Q&A with Steven Culp


June 18, 2015

From April until May 2014 Steven Culp fans had the opportunity
to submit questions through the Steven Culp Online website and Steven Culp Online Facebook page for Mr. Steven Culp to answer.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions.

Above all, many thanks to Mr. Steven Culp!

Read the first installment Read the second installment Read the third installment

Fourth Installment

Note: © Steven Culp Online 2015 - The Q&A is exclusive to Steven Culp Online and may not be published on other websites or the like.

(26) Daniela: Apart from your family and friends, what did you miss the most when you were in Austin, TX and what were you looking forward to the most when you went back home (apart from your family and friends)?

Steven: Well, when you're away from home everything you miss is pretty much wrapped up with family and friends. Just being away for a week can seem like a very long time when you return home, because so much has happened in your absence. Life is going on, and you're somewhat disconnected from it. And then you miss your routines; there are routines for work, exercise, relaxation, and so on, that one gets to rely on when at home, even when your schedule is unpredictable and each day is bringing new situations. I try to get into some kind of routine when I'm out of town, so that I can be productive and not fritter away too much time. I'll set aside time to work on my role, to go to a gym, to read, to see the sights of whatever city I happen to be in (in New Orleans recently I took some very interesting historical walking tours). I like to check out recommended restaurants, bars, music clubs (both Austin and New Orleans are great towns for that). And as I mentioned before, I do a lot of journal writing; that's a great way to keep focused and productive when you're out of town. And, of course, I send lots of emails and make phone calls to my family and friends back home. So, in answer to your question, I suppose I would say I miss family, friends, the continuity and familiar routine of my life, and the way all that supports, nurtures, and gives comfort. It's also nice to return to a good home-cooked meal.

(27) Anja: Would you please tell us how you got the part of Truman on "Revolution"? What scene did you play during your audition?

Steven: I auditioned for the role in REVOLUTION. I read my very first scene (the one with Elizabeth Mitchell and Billy Burke in the town square) with the casting director, who put me on tape for the producers. That scene was all I had to go on, and the names were changed: "Rachel" was "Sarah," "Miles" was "Stu." The character description that accompanied the scene described Truman as "a true leader, anxious to help those in need." And that was it. The second season had not begun airing yet, so I could only guess as to what was going on in the story. Something told me, despite the character description, that there was more to Truman than met the eye—I think probably because "Sarah" was written to be so suspicious of him and because in the scene Truman is described as being almost "frighteningly" genuine, his smile just a little bit too big. (I've just looked at the scene for the first time in almost 2 years, and was surprised at how much I've forgotten.) So all this gave me my first little clues into who this person was. I decided to play him almost like a throwback, a World War II-era GI, a member of what we now call "The Greatest Generation," but a bit of the Hollywood version of that. Gary Cooper, Robert Mitchum. Clean-cut, humble, "sincere." A patriot. I think I was already beginning to sense that Truman was striving to be an idealized version of a hero, and that underneath that there was something quite different going on. Anyway, I read the scene, maybe twice (I don't remember, but it was very quick), and a few days later I was offered the job. The scene you eventually saw on TV as a shorter, edited version of the one I read.

(28) Jeanie: Hi Steven. I was an extra on set in Rusk, TX. We were there with you on April 9th. Not sure if you remember me, but you and I spoke briefly, you shook my hand and made my year!! Love, love, love you!!! IF we can't save "Revolution," what will be the next step for you? I hope I have the honor to be in your presence again one day.

Steven: Steven: Yes, I do remember you. And I certainly remember that day: the 4-hour drive to Rusk (because there was a real locomotive there), shooting the scene, and then making the 4-hour return drive to Austin. That was the scene where Truman returns to Willoughby by train (in "Tomorrowland"); it was the very last scene shot for REVOLUTION. Well, because I have taken such an unconscionably long time to answer these questions, we already know what my next steps will be. I was quite pleased to be part of BOSCH, which I think is an absolutely terrific show, and right now I'm in traveling mode again, going back and forth from New Orleans playing another sinister character in the upcoming CBS series ZOO. And working again with the wonderful Billy Burke!

(29) Renee: Now that you have added 'Superhero' movie to your resume, do you think you will consider taking a larger part in another one or hope to be offered a larger part?

Steven: CAPTAIN AMERICA came over the phone: I got a call one night offering me the job. It was an extra scene that had been added to the movie, and was shot just a few months before the movie came out. All I was told was that I'd be doing a scene with Scarlett Johannson; I had to accept the job and sign a seemingly bottomless pile of non-disclosure agreements before they would show me the scene—and all I got was the scene, not the full script. They're very tight with security on these things. In any case, I will not deny that I was slightly disappointed to finally see the actual scene; I would like to have had more to do. Yes, of course I would consider doing another superhero movie. I'm actually hoping my character on ARROW will return at some point—I loved being the evil Senator Cray, and really enjoyed working with those folks. (Start sending them those cards and letters, people!) And I would LOVE to be offered larger roles in everything. It's what I'm always striving for. But in the meantime, I try to take advantage of my opportunities and make the most of, and be thankful for, what I have.

(30) Doris: Thank you for taking the time to answer the question. Please let us know something we'd be surprised to know about you.

Steven: I must confess, I don't know why I find questions like this one so difficult to answer. My mind becomes a total blank. I think that, though I'm in a public profession, I am at heart a pretty private person. I enjoy talking about the intricacies of my work, and the parallels I can find between the art of acting and the art of living, but when it comes to general questions like this one I'm stumped. So let me see… Well, I don't know if you'll find this surprising, but speaking of superheroes, I have a pretty extensive collection of DC and Marvel comics, dating roughly 1963-1974. I was a bit of a comic geek when I was growing up. Started out besotted with Batman and branched out from there. Nowadays it's a badge of coolness and big box-office business, but back then, it was something you didn't admit to once you were past third grade, a habit you kept secret. I kept it up until I went off to college. I remember being in my junior year of high school, and confessing to my girlfriend how shocked and stunned I was that Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacey had just been killed off in the current issue. I mean, this just wasn't done back in those days. She was, like, Are you serious? It was hard to explain. The geek network was pretty underground at that time. Now it's all exploded, of course, comic culture is huge, but I haven't kept up with it for many years. Comic books are so very different from the way they were when I was growing up. If I were a kid now I wouldn't know where to begin. And yet, oddly enough, many of the characters that are being currently recycled in that culture—in print, in the movies, on TV—date from when I was a kid, even the minor ones. That stuff I was reading when I was nine years old has become mythology.

(31) Doris: What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Steven: I'm not sure I can point to any one piece of advice, though several come to mind. There's a saying I learned from my mother: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." That's a profound thought. I like to think, and I hope, that she instilled in me some empathy and compassion for others with that idea. I wish some of our more bellicose lawmakers (and their financial backers) would take note of that one. And I've heard this story from several different actors: their fathers were also actors, famous ones, and they'd ask their Dads for advice, and the Dads would say, "Sit down whenever possible." They'd think, "What the —? That's advice??!" And then later, after spending some long days and weeks on a set, they'd go, "Hey— that was pretty good advice!" I learned that one the hard way. I used to find myself pacing between takes, because I thought it kept up my energy and focus. Do that often enough on those long days wearing hard shoes (Webb's loafers, for example) and you'll wind up with some pretty sore feet. When I was doing TRAVELER there was one point where I could barely walk; my feet were so worn down I had to get fitted for orthotics. (Say! THAT'S something I'll bet you're surprised to know about me!) So, yes: now I sit down whenever possible—it's just self-preservation. Life-lessons can come from anywhere, and over the years I hope at least some of them have managed to sink in. Many of them involve what I've mentioned before: focusing on process instead of result, the value of giving oneself up to the moment, the necessity of preparation, the importance of dedication and hard work, inner relaxation, perseverance and stamina. How one must find ways to be proactive, instead of simply reaction to situations. Many things I have found through my work also apply to life. For instance, when acting, you try to keep your attention outside of yourself; if your focus is on yourself, on your performance, on how and what you're feeling, you become self-conscious, blocked up, unable to respond to the needs of the moment. Focusing outside yourself, on your partner, on accomplishing the simple action you're performing, frees you up, it relaxes you, and suddenly you're in a position to experience something new and unexpected, to discover. That's a great lesson to take into your everyday life and relationships. Put your attention outside of yourself, focus on those you interact with, and see what you discover. I read something interesting recently: that we forget that Love is a verb as well as a noun. "To love." It's an active choice. Rather than dwell on the love that one may or may not be getting, one can make a choice. To Love. It's an interesting idea. And I'll leave you with that.

Anja: Thank you for taking your time to answer the questions, Steven!

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