Interview with David Eigenberg from #boyband and "Chicago Fire" show - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

David Eigenberg in "boyband" as photographer Alfonso Fitzsimmons

Interview with David Eigenberg of "Chicago Fire" on NBC 2/9/16

David is most well known as playing Chris Hermann on the successful show "Chicago Fire" Tuesdays 10/9c on NBC. He's also guest-starring on this web series, #boyband, so that's what we're mainly asking him about here. He seems like such a nice guy and very down-to-earth.  He and the other guest-stars from "Chicago Fire" are playing very different characters than what you're used to. He plays a photographer. It's a fun show and he joins in the silliness!  Watch the episodes here

Here's the audio of our interview, and here's the transcript by Gisele.

1. How did your guest-starring role in "Boyband" come about?

David Eigenberg: Well, we've got a show here in Chicago called "Chicago Fire" and the directing manager here is Joe Chappelle, who's a fantastic talent, came to the show from "The Wire" where he was one of the major influences. He is married to Colleen, and I've seen her work over the last couple of years from a feature that she did and then some of the "Boyband" stuff I started seeing and really liked it. Thought it was hysterical. And then a year later, maybe longer, she said to do a little thing, and I said, "Absolutely. I'd be happy to." Yeah, it's a privilege, so that's the long story of how it came about. But I was very happy, and I really liked the webseries. I think the young guys are just great, and they're a lot of fun to work with. It's my understanding that it came out of nowhere. I don't know exactly where it came out of. It's kind of like that really heavily aspiring actors, I think, that would maybe like it, but it's kind of like they're guys in high school, saying, "Yeah, let's do this crazy thing," and I can really appreciate... I like that kind of thing where they just set out to do something fun, and it's a send-up to, you know, to the entire young male boy band genre music, and they send it up pretty well. I like it.

2. How long did shooting take?

David Eigenberg: I just worked with them for a day. I don't know how long it takes for one episode, but I just did a nice little scene with them, and they were very funny, and they're all kind of... At a certain point in the show, they're kind of shot out of a cannon. They imagine themselves to be something less than what they are, or more than what they are. They're a lot of fun to work with, so it's a microcosm of the industry's perceptions of the entertainment industry of how people perceive themselves, sometimes accurately or inaccurately, either overblown or completely deflated images that entertainers have of themselves, and it's fun to send it up.

3. Was there a script or did you ad-lib or was it somewhere in between?

David Eigenberg: It was somewhere in between. They had a script, and I came in ready to roll on that, and then I said to Colleen, "Do you guys want to go word perfect on this, you know, letter perfect?" And she said, "No, no. If you feel something, go with it," so I did a bit of improv with them. It was kind of needed to be, because I was playing a photographer kind of thing, and then to a world they weren't familiar with and then trying to elevate that, and then their ability or inability to get there was right for me to make fun of, so I had a lot of fun with them.

4. Did you do anything to prepare for playing a photographer?

David Eigenberg: I've been around enough photoshoots that I have a pretty... I have my own experience in it, but yeah, I felt that I could navigate this pretty well. I spent some time thinking about it, but I didn't really need to go and follow somebody. Actually, there were some set photographers I asked, "How do you guys hold a camera?" You know, that kind of thing, I actually managed to sneak that in. I don't know if I did it that well, but I did have an idea of what they were doing and how they actually did it.

5. Would you like to do more comedy?

David Eigenberg: I've done some dramedies. You know, I'm more of a... when a door opens in front of me, and in many, many years in my career, a door has never opened in front of me, but if they do open, I like to jump through them if I think it's in an area where I can perform hopefully okay, There are certain things that I go, "I'm not gonna do well at that," and then people are like, "You don't know until you find out" and "You shouldn't limit yourself," and I'm like, "You live under the cloud of like dream whatever you wanna dream and make it come through, and I live in the reality of like, "You're lucky in this world if you can do one thing well. But I was happy with what we did on the series with Colleen, so..

6. Even when you're doing drama, because you're such a great character actor, you bring a lot of humor to your roles, like in your current show.

David Eigenberg: I get to run a couple of different colors for the show, and I love it when they throw that funnier stuff at me. The show is more of a drama than anything, but there is the firefighter humor that exists, and I like to riff on that, and we spend a lot of time around real firefighters. Some of my background is civil service, so I get that, you know, the busting chops thing, and I love that about the show that we bring it in. We're limited sometimes in the show, the depth of the gallows humor that we can bring in, because to stay within the bounds of what the audience might understand, but the real guys dealing with the darkness and the tragedy that they deal with on a weekly, sometimes a daily basis, they have to have a really dark sense of gallows humor just to maintain a level of sanity and be able to navigate, which we can't do on the show, but I love that about these guys -- the men and women.

7. Your character on "Chicago Fire" has been through a lot. Does it surprise you how the script is always making so many, wonderful things for you to play?

David Eigenberg: I feel really lucky and fortunate that they've written stuff for me to work on and to bring forward, hopefully, and you know, I just feel really lucky in that. You never know what's going to happen on any show where they're going to take you, and it's our job as a professional, as an actor, to be prepared whichever way they go, take us or don't take us. Sometimes, they're really quiet on the show, and you've got to make the most out of the moments that, sometimes very small moments that you're given, and sometimes you're given stuff with a wider berth, and that's great, too; but every day is about bringing the best that I have to the job, regardless of what the scope of the work is.

8. Are there particular people on your show that you hang out with?

David Eigenberg: Oh, yeah. I mean, we have a kind of an incestuous love affair, and it can be a little bonkers, because we get along really well. We're also, by and large, a lot of transplants here to Chicago, so we're all stuck in the same boat. We have a really healthy egos on the show, and our lead actors, they usually set the tone, and they set a really nice tone on the show. They're not egomaniacs. They have healthy egos, so there's no... Sometimes, on television shows, egos can be a bit much. We're just really lucky that we have a bunch of really wonderful people. But I hand out with a lot of people on the show, but Eamonn, who plays Chief Boden, I hang out with him probably the most. We had very similar experiences in the industry, somewhat similar. We also came up learning... I learned a lot of my television perspective and skills from Tom Fontana, who's a homicide guy and a nice guy, and I did another show for him. I don't know when it was, but I learned a lot from Tom Fontana. We both come from that same school of focus and professionalism, so we can relate to each other a lot.

9. I know you grew up in Chicago. Do you still live there?

David Eigenberg: I grew up in the suburbs here in Chicago. I grew up all around Chicago. I didn't grow up in the city. I would have liked to have grown up in the city, but I won't say I did. I left here for... I was gone for 30 years, I think 31 years, and came back four years ago, which didn't seem like it was 30 years. It panics me when I think I've been gone 30 years. I was like, "That's not possible." But the numbers don't lie. I was in New York for 22 and did a lot of theater there. That's kind of where I cut my teeth in theater. And then television and then "Sex in the City" and then moved to LA for 7 years and hit a major drought, which was fine. The question is can you get through... Everyone has droughts, unless you're just like incredibly lucky or incredibly gifted, which I'm not, and the question is can you stay somewhat sane through the droughts in your career. I think I managed -- I weathered them okay. I've got a good wife who kept me going great. I didn't get into any of the deep Botox, hair transplant, workout mania, human-growth hormones, steroid phase, which you really see the wreckage of one's psyche when the work dries up on you. I was really lucky to have this job come up. It usually doesn't happen to many actors.

10. Is there anything you can tell us about what's in store for "Chicago Fire" viewers for the rest of the season?

David Eigenberg: You know, we're incredibly limited in what we know. In fact, I just got Episode 18 and kind of thumbed through it. They haven't introduced any -- In Episode 17, they've got the stuff going with Casey's pursuit of being an alderman here in the city and, actually, I didn't read enough of 18 to know whether that's going to come to fruition or not. But they haven't laid out any major end of the season arcs, as far as I know. I mean, maybe they're stitching in, but if they do, the people on the streets are, "You should tell them to do this for your character." People on the street have no concept of the lack of influence that we have on what's going on. In fact, our crew gets stuff much earlier than we do. We go in the make-up chair, then we go, "What episode is that on the counter?" And they're like, "Episode 20." It was a couple of episodes ahead of us, and we try to sneak a look. I haven't looked in quite a while actually, but if you want to get ahead, you can razzle up a script in there.

11. What's the best thing about working for a Dick Wolf show?

David Eigenberg: I think he's a great... He's a showman. In an industry that's rife with hucksters and shysters, and less than idyllic moral compasses, if I can be so brash, I think he's an incredibly fair, gifted, and stable man. I feel very, very privileged to work for him. There's only been a few producers, executives, I've come across that have a good, human side to them, and I really appreciate Dick Wolf. He's a really fair guy. He's not trying... He's one of those guys, very much like Tom Fontana, who came out of the same schools of "St. Elsewhere," "Hill Street Blues," and they were like... I don't know who the predecessor of all of that was, but they're like, "Come in. Do you work. Know your lines. Keep your head together, and you're gonna have a nice career, and I think that's great. They're not guys that come in and go, "We're gonna have a hit show. We're gonna tear the wheels off this industry. We're gonna rewrite the definition of success. They're like "Let's do our best. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks." And it's really refreshing, 'cause I've been on stuff where it's like, you know, the egos and, you know, the expectations that they think that they're gonna, you know. The egos are sometimes really large, but Dick Wolf has a really healthy but good ego. I talked a lot about egos today. [Laughs] You're probably looking for a really simple answer, but today I seem to be a little long-winded. Sorry.

12. Do you have any other movies or shows coming out that we should know about?

David Eigenberg: No, I don't. I've got a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old, and a wife that loves me a lot of the time, and I literally do not... I take my name out of the hat. I don't know that anybody would necessarily be looking for me. There were a couple of plays that came up, some really nice plays -- one in LA, one in New York -- but I passed on them immediately, 'cause I have to spend time with my family. I only do this, at the end of the day, because of my family, and I've got to be there with them. So, I've got nothing coming up. I've got nothing. No, I'm really grateful. The family is -- 2 amazing kids and a great wife, and I'm really luck to have that, so I got no complaints in this life.

David Eisenberg


 Trailer Watch the episodes here

boyband is a hilarious mockumentary web series which premieres this February.  This aesthetically-pleasing comedy web series is directed and produced by independent filmmaker Colleen Griffen (known for THE COLD AND THE QUIET, THIEVES QUARTET) and is executive produced by her husband, Joe Chappelle (Chicago Fire, The Wire, Fringe, CSI: Miami, The Twilight Zone).  boyband provides a behind-the-scenes look at five young singers – Lance, Preston, Yancy, Chad and Shaun – coming together to form a boyband.  As they cope with their budding fame and the struggles of writing their first album, this cohesive collection of high school harmonics is poised to dominate the boyband scene over the coming year. The style of boyband is similar to that of The Office and THIS IS SPINAL TAP, incorporating interviews with the band members and documentary-style footage. 

boyband stars include newcomers Jacob Bond, Matthew Chappelle, David Colton, Noah Eisfelder and Peter Semla.  In season 2, which will debut this Valentine’s Day, the band is joined by David Eigenberg (Sex and the City, Chicago Fire), Christian Stolte (PUBLIC ENEMIES, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, Chicago Fire, Boss), Joe Minoso (Shameless, Chicago Fire), Yuri Sardarov (ARGO,Chicago Fire), and LaRoyce Hawkins (Chicago PDBallers) in guest star roles. Each episode averages 5 minutes, with a total of 25 episodes spanning two seasons.

One remarkable fact about boyband: seasons 1 and 2 were created on a micro budget of under $200,000.  Season 1 was shot over a five day period while season 2 was shot over a three week period, all taking place in Evanston, Illinois. Part of the Griffen-Chappelle mission is to create a larger presence of Chicago-based film and television. Largely every cast and crew member of boyband is based in Chicago – no one was flown in for the project.  boyband will be released on YouTube and Vimeo.

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