Bob Stephenson: Bit by Bit

May 05th, 2018 | Category: Interviews

My favorite actors tend to be those just outside the spotlight. I like character actors and supporting roles. Nicky Katt, Max Perlich, Kevin Corrigan, Steven Weber, Bradley Whitford, Don McManus, and Daryl Mitchell are some of my favorites.

A little further afield, I’m always paying attention to the background. I love Norman Brenner, who was Michael Richards’ stand-in on all nine seasons Seinfeld, and popped up on camera as an extra in 29 episodes. Ruthie Cohen, who aside from the the four main characters, was in more episodes of that show than anyone (101). How about that long-haired guy in the background damn near every scene of 30 Rock? Those are the real heroes.

My absolute favorite is Bob Stephenson. He was the priest-cum-football coach in Lady Bird (2017). You might recognize him as the airport security guy in Fight Club (1999), but he’s been in many other movies and shows you’ve probably seen: Felicity, Judging Amy, Without a Trace, Ally McBeal, In addition to Fight Club, he was also in David Fincher’s Se7en (1995), The Game (1997), and Zodiac (2007). He was in both incarnations of Twin Peaks (1991/2017). He’s been on the current number-one comedy (Big Bang Theory) and number-one drama (NCIS) in the country. And he was Ted the pilot in the greatest movie of all time, Con Air (1997).

Bob also has a deep punk-rock background, but we just talked about filmmaking.

Roy Christopher: How did you get started acting?

Bob Stephenson: I was a production assistant. I did that for about four and a half years. It was really my film school. I always knew I wanted to act, but I didn’t want to wait tables. I wanted to be in the thick of it – learn by experience.

RC: I have often aspired to act in many small roles. I always thought it would be great to have a résumé that read “Guy in Coffee Shop,” “Second Cop,” “Man #3,” and so on [I was a Papal Emissary on 2 episodes of The Exorcist on Fox and a Bike Messanger in a scene that was cut from an episode of Empire​, so it’s coming slowly]. While your career has definitely surpassed that, do you want the Big Leading Roles?

BS: Heck yes! Of course I do. I would love that. I write quite a bit so I often write roles for myself that I’d love to play.

Bob in Fight Club (1999): “Nine times out of ten it’s an electric razor, but every once in a while… “

RC: Prior to your Father Walther character in Lady Bird, my favorite of your performances was in Fight Club. Both of those roles really display your keen sense of comedic timing and delivery. Do you feel a leaning either toward comedy or drama?

BS: Comedy for sure. But I like it all.

Bob in Twin Peaks (1990/2017).

RC: You’ve worked with the best directors doing it, or at least the best Davids (e.g., David Fincher and David Lynch). Is there someone else you’d most like to work with?

BS: John C Reilly.

RC: You’ve also written and produced projects yourself. Do you aspire to exact a vision from behind the scenes over being in the scenes?

BS: Like I said, I write. I love writing and producing. Think I’ll leave the directing to someone else (though it would be fun to do that as well).

RC: What’s coming up next?

BS: About to pitch a TV pilot to studios. Writing another one as we speak. Both comedies.

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