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Interview with David Eisenberg 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!
the episodes here
of our interview, and here's the transcript by
1. How did your guest-starring role in "Boyband" come about?
David Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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 Eisenberg: 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
9. I know you grew up in Chicago. Do you still live there?
David Eisenberg: 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
10. Is there anything you can tell us about what's in store for "Chicago
Fire" viewers for the rest of the season?
David Eisenberg: 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
11. What's the best thing about working for a Dick Wolf show?
David Eisenberg: 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
David Eisenberg: 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.
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
Fringe, CSI: Miami, The Twilight Zone).
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
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
THIS IS SPINAL TAP, incorporating interviews with the
band members and documentary-style
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 PD, Ballers) in
guest star roles. Each episode averages 5 minutes, with a
total of 25 episodes spanning two seasons.
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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