I had the chance to
speak to TV/screen veteran
Stiers this morning and it was a hoot. You most likely know the man
from such varied projects as "THX 1138", "MASH",
"The Accidental Tourist", "Doc Hollywood",
"Mighty Aphrodite" and "The Majestic". He's now appearing
The Dead Zone TV series
premieres on Sunday, June 16, 2002
(yes, this Sunday).
It will then air every Sunday at 10 PM ET/PT on the USA Network.
This is what he had to say.
A: Are you a big Stephen King fan by nature?
DOS: A long time ago I learned to sample an author, take a deep breath
and walk away. Read other people, keep your spectrum broad. So yes, Iíve encountered Stephen
King, in books
and certainly movies and could easily dive into it and read nothing
else. Iíve had to put the breaks harder with him than any other
people. So YES, I am a fan!
A: Have you read
"The Dead Zone"?
They handed me the book and I toyed with the idea of reading it and
then I thought: youíre going to have to play the script page not the
book page. Somewhere along the 3-4 months down the road Iím going
to read it. And may kick myself for not having read it prior to
shooting, but I donít think so.
A: What was it
about the TV show that appealed to you?
Frankly, the quality of the writing and the production team. I had a
meeting in LA in which they took a really overstuffed hour and a
half for a good, long unfolding meeting. It was as close to old
Hollywood as I remembered it in the last 20 years. Business wasnít
first and they encouraged me to ask questions. They asked my opinion
about the script, I wanted to know things about the shooting style
since I had not seen anything. We had such a lovely time with
handshakes all around. And whether it wouldíve happened or not, I
floated out of that meeting. Itís rare to be treated like a friend
you havenít met in a Hollywood meeting.
A: Iím assuming
that the positive energy translated on to the set?
Oh yeah! Thereís a really remarkable group of actors and Michael
Hall is right in front of the pack. I donít know if youíve seen
anything of him in the pilot?
A: Yes, Iíve seen
the pilot and I already interviewed Michael, I was actually taken
aback by his performance.
Oh man! Werenít you?
A: Yeah! I know
him from "The Breakfast Club", "Johnny B. Good" and here heís all
growns up. I
think heís come into his own as an actor.
Oh, no kidding. You have no idea whatís going to be asked of him down
the road. Iíve read the scripts. Even if Iím not in
themÖparticularly when Iím not in them I find them more interesting.
The scripts with only Michael in particular are in the first place...literature.
Writing is hard work, generating stories that catch peopleís
attention and holding it are very difficult but
this run of scripts have been remarkable. Theyíre writing novels
every week where most hour shows are writing novellas. Nothing wrong
with that but I prefer the novel.
A: Well, the novel is always more complete.
Iíve seen the pilot and your character Gene Purdy is coming off as a
nice guy so far but Iím getting hints that he will turn to the
A: Yes! So what
can you tell us about your role? What can you give away?
Well, if youíre not sure then I would say very little [laugh]
I think if I read Michael and Sean correctly
(the showís writers)
the intent is to keep you wondering as long as possible but I can
tell you the basics. He's a man whose faith is real, he is not
lying. His commitment to his God is real, firm and truthful. But
that religious commitment is partnered with a really astute and
reactive business sense. He will manage that faith in very good
earthly terms with that as the uppermost technique. I donít think he
wants anything to disturb, distort or threaten the structure of his
A: So basically
heíll do anything to attain what he wants.
Iíve seemed to have said that but I think they are constraints. They
are religious constraints.
pointÖ.what kind of research, if at all, did you do before
tackling this role?
None, I didnít have the time.
A: Were you cast
real fast, like last minute?
It was like ďhere it is, are you busy tomorrow morningĒ [laughs]. Now
it wasn't that fast, I did have time to put my affairs in order before I tore
out of Oregon for Vancouver. I live on the coast of Oregon and I
actually drive there. Since Iím reoccurring, I only work for 3 or 4
days at a whack. It's a pleasure to drive up leisurely a couple of
days before the shoot, stopping to have a nice dinner while learning the lines
and then driving a couple of days after the shoot.
A: How many
episodes have you guys shot so far?
Because Iím reoccurring, I have no idea where they are now. I know
the order was 13 episodes and I think theyíre really expecting a back
order, so it's all dependent on this coming Sunday night.
A: The advance
buzz so far is pretty positive so I have a good feeling about the
show. Actually, of all the episodes that you have shot, which one would
you say is your favorite?
Since I shot five, I donít think I can answer that; I havenít seen
them all. But if I make nothing else clear to you: I urge you to
understand that the quality of writing that is coming out of this
production is unprecedented in my experience and Iím pretty spoiled.
A: Yeah, I saw
your filmography, very lengthy!
"Accidental TouristĒ, ďThe MajesticĒ which I thought was a wonderful
script, just a bunch of really good movies. And
also from a standpoint of television series, ďMary Tyler MooreĒ,
ďMASHĒÖ And this is
unapologetically shoulder to shoulder with the best writing Iíve
It is intensely humane, insightful; it embraces a wide variety of
people and doesnít make fun of any of them. Villainy is only a
portion on oneís persona. No one is only evil, even nice people
squat flies and murder their pet dogs. They do not deal in
absolute black and white and itís through that rich, middle palette
of varying hues that they guide you and show you things. I think the
world of Michael and Sean as writers and how theyíre able to
identify writers to generate scripts and then hone them to keep that
standard very high.
A: Looking at your vast list of credits I couldnít help but
wonder, is there that one part that you played that stands out, that
youíll always remember very fondly?
Well, there are a couple of roles I havenít played that I want to. Now
I know the play is froth with problems in acceptance in a particular
segment of the community but I would love to play Shiloh.
A: Oh yeah?
I think I have an understanding of the role that would take some of
the sting and the negative reaction out of the publicís awareness. Particularly the Jewish American awareness. Iíve played Lear 3
times, I would love to do it again but Iím now understanding as I
approach 60, John Gielgud's advice to an actor playing Lear.
Are you familiar with it?
A: No, Iím not
actually, but Iíd love to hear it.
Pick a light Cordelia...
You've got to carry her in at the end of act 5 and by that time your
energy is running on reserve, so she better weigh 110 pounds and no
A: Thatís very
Itís funny and actually quite smart!
A: Do you
have anything else coming up apart from "The Dead Zone"?
Thank you, thank you that I donít have to impose that question on
A: [laughs] What
do you have coming?
DOS: Premiering this weekend in Hollywood, its release date I believe is
the 21st of June 2002, is an animated Disney movie called
"Lilo and Stitch".
A: Yup Iíve
heard of it.
It is really good! Iíll always say if something I did isnít stellar.
Iíll find ways to let it be known somewhere beneath the surface that I
am not among the soul of this project. You do the best you can, then
you look at the result and if it doesnít cut it, admit it because
everybody is going to see it and know it. "Lilo and Stitch" is a splendid movie,
very tough for Disney. It's PG, itís about a broken family, an older sister
and a younger sister, Nany and Lilo. Nany did not get signed on to be
mom and Lilo needs more than a big sister. They're tough with each
other, they have ego battles and territory battles.
A: That sounds pretty
harsh for a Disney movie.
It is...and into Liloís life comes Stitch, a renegade which was actually
designed by me as a weapon and is now hiding from its pursuers, me and
Kevin McDonald. Through it all, everybody gets humanized, we get softened
and are brought
to realize as the film says (not too much but just enough) how
important the word "family" is. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.
A: Sound pretty
You will laugh, be warmed and will not feel manipulated.
A: Well, that
would be quite novel for Hollywood.
Yeah, now wouldnít it?
A: Well, thatís
pretty much it for me.
A: Thank you
very much for starting my day off on the right foot and Iíd like to wish
you a very good day.
Thank you sir, well said. I hope your day is splendid as well.
A: Thanks, David.
like to thank David for his time, I had lots of fun doing the
interview. I wish him and everybody else involved in "The Dead Zone"
TV series the best of runs. On June 16, 2002, get ready to enter THE
ZONE. I love saying that, doesn't it sound kool?
my interview with The Dead Zone's ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL here
DEAD ZONE OFFICIAL SITE HERE