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By Suzanne

Stephen Root

Interview with Stephen Root of "Fringe" on FOX 11/8/11

Stephen Root is a great character actor, and he has done many wonderful roles. If you saw him in "Office Space", you will remember that he had a hilarious role there as Milton; if you saw "Newsradio" on NBC years ago, you remember him as Dave Foley's whiny boss; if you watch "True Blood", you may recall him as the kind and pitiful gay vampire Eddie; or you may recognize his voice from his "King of the Hill" roles. He has done so many great roles, and he always does a fantastic job on them.

On the phone, he was very nice, very professional, and he just seemed like a sweet guy who clearly loves his work. I really enjoyed speaking with him.

FBC Publicity: Fringe Conference Call with Stephen Root
November 8, 2011/11:00 a.m. PST

Josh Governale
Stephen Root


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Fringe Conference Call with Stephen Root. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. As a reminder this conference is being recorded and there will be a replay as well as a transcription available after the conference.

Iíd now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mr. Josh Governale. Please go ahead.

J. Governale Thank you, Rochelle. Good morning and afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us on the Fringe conference call with guest star, Stephen Root. Weíre honored to say that this Fridayís episode of Fringe entitled, ďAnd Those Weíve Left Behind,Ē marks the first time that Stephen and his wife Romy Rosemont have acted together.

Without further delay, letís proceed. Please welcome Stephen Root. First question please.

Moderator Your first question, it comes from the line of Troy Rogers with Deadbolt. Please go ahead.

T. Rogers Hi Stephen.

S. Root Hi. How are you?

T. Rogers Not too bad. Thanks for taking the time.

S. Root Absolutely.

T. Rogers Whatís it like for you to appear on Fringe for the first time with your real-life wife?

S. Root It was a great opportunity to be able to work with her. We have been able to do readings and things like that for films, but never in front of a camera. It was tremendous to be able to work together. I think the first day that we worked, was just the two of us and the director and the crew. It was a joy. It was tremendous.

T. Rogers What can you tell us about your characters, since they also play husband and wife in the show?

S. Root Not much, or theyíll kill me. But I can tell you that theyíre a husband and wife that are both scientists and have something going on in this universe, not the other one. Itís something you need to go ahead and see. But, weíre both scientists trying to accomplish something.

T. Rogers Okay, fair enough. One more quick thing and Iíll let somebody else jump in. What are your views on some of the Fringe science we see in the show, like parallel universes and dark matter?

S. Root I love that. Iíve been a sci-fi guy from way back, including comics in the 60s and sci-fi from the time I was 13 years old. Itís always fascinated me, whether weíre in a situation where, ďAre there multiple universes? Is the nature of time itselfóis it possible to travel back through time?Ē That kind of stuff has always fascinated me. Iím happy to be addressing it a little bit in this show.

T. Rogers Excellent. Thanks again, Stephen.

S. Root Absolutely.

Moderator Our next question from the line of Joshua Maloni of Niagara Frontier Publications. Please go ahead.

J. Maloni Hi, Stephen. Thanks for your time today.

S. Root Sure, not a problem.

J. Maloni Yes, obviously itís a great opportunity, can you tell us a little bit about it how it came about? Was this something that the two of you were actively looking for? Or did Fringe pitch it to you? How did this opportunity come about for you guys?

S. Root It came throughóactually Romy had went to Northwestern with one of the executive producers and we were actually at a party and talking to him. They were saying, ďWould Stephen be interested in doing a Fringe?Ē And Romy popped up, ďWell, yes, if you invite me.Ē And strangely enough, Mr. Pinkner a while later said, ďYes. Please. Come on and do the show.Ē

We were just more than thrilled to be able to work with each other and come on a quality program.

J. Maloni Right. I think itís a great cast. I think itís a cast thatís oftentimes very underrated.

S. Root Me, too.

J. Maloni What was it like working with John and Anna and Joshua and the cast?

S. Root We actually didnít get to work with a lot of the cast. It was mainly us and Josh. Anna we saw a little bit. It was kind of an insular episode for us, which was good in that there was limited involvement. Itís kind of a stand-alone thing.

J. Maloni Alright. Looking forward to watching it. Thank you for your time.

S. Root Thanks, sir.

Moderator The next question, from the line of Alex Zalben of MTV Geek. Please go ahead.

A. Zalben Hi Stephen. Thanks so much for taking the call.

S. Root Absolutely. My pleasure.

A. Zalben I actually watched the episode and I loved it. I thought you guys did a great job.

S. Root Thanks.

A. Zalben Iím going to try to phrase the question so it doesnít get totally into spoiler territory.

S. Root Yes, I know. Itís tough.

A. Zalben Yes. The relationship that you guys are playing there is obviously, there are a lot of emotions going on. Itís very tricky because you are dealing with a disease. Since you guys are a realized couple, as an actor, does it make it easier to know, ďOkay, Iím working with my wife here?Ē Or would you both prefer to maybe work with somebody where issues donít come up later on that youíve talked about?

S. Root I appreciate that question. I think to play husband and wife and be real husband and wife, itís easier to emotionally connect quickly to a big emotional place, since weíre actual husband and wife. You donít have a lot of time on television to do that usually. There is not a lot of rehearsal time. Us knowing each other so wellóweíre probably knowing where the other person is going to go emotionally, was a help.

A. Zalben As a little bit of a follow up to that, just to talk about your performance. It almost seems like you start out very even and then slowly get unhinged during the course of the episode. Would you say thatís accurate?

S. Root Iíd say thatís accurate because he thinks things are going to go along swimmingly, until they donít. It was a nice little arc to play. I really appreciated the chance to do it, especially with my wife.

A. Zalben Great. Thanks so much.

S. Root Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. The next question, from the line of Kristyn Clarke of Pop Culture Madness. Please go ahead.

K. Clarke Hi Stephen. Thanks so much for taking the call.

S. Root Youíre welcome. Thank you.

K. Clarke Iím curious to know, with guest starring spots versus a series regular, was there anything particularly challenging about that for you? Ö that you prefer?

S. Root Yes. I think there always is. Youíre always the new kid on the block when you come in as a guest star. Their series has been going on for four years and theyíre a well-oiled machine. They know each other emotionally and intellectually and then you come in and go, ďHi. Hereís my episode. I want to play with you guys.Ē

I always feel like itís the first day of school for me when Iím doing a guest star thing, but itís kind of good because you jump; youíre pushed to an emotional high quickly. On TV, there is not a lot of time to rehearse, so it was nice to be able to work with your wife, somebody you knew so well.

K. Clarke I can imagine. Is there anything you can share about any other upcoming projects in the works for you?

S. Root Iíve got J. Edgar opening on the 9th. Iíve just finished filming Robert Redfordís The Company You Keep. Actually did that the week after we did the Fringe, I started working on that. Those are a couple of projects coming up.

K. Clarke Great. Thank you so much.

S. Root Absolutely.

Moderator Thank you. Next question from the line of Sheldon Wiebe of Please go ahead.

S. Wiebe Hi, Stephen. Thanks so much for doing this.

S. Root Sure, man.

S. Wiebe Now, I had a number of questions and theyíve already been answered. Iím just wondering, at first glance, youíve done a variety of projects that would seem to have nothing in common. But, all of the major ones, from Office Space to NewsRadio to True Blood and Justified, have a core of really fierce fans.

I was wondering, what draws you to these projects, and if maybe your reasons for doing these things might be the same reasons that they get such loyal fans?

S. Root I think youíre right. Iím hoping that Iím picking projects that I believe are really well-produced, well-written, and star people that you want to work with. At this stage in my career, I pick projects according to who you want to work with, how well itís written, and the director.

All those things that youíve mentioned are the criteria for what Iím working with now, which is why I was thrilled to work with Eastwood on J. Edgar. I was thrilled to work with Redford on The Company You Keep and The Conspirator. You try to keep working with people you think are better than you, or you want to work with because you really admire their work. Yes, thatís pretty much the criteria.

S. Wiebe Terrific. Also, I was just wondering if you know if youíll be on the next season of Justified?

S. Root Theyíve actuallyóIíll say this; they put a pin in me for an episode later on this season. Hopefully that will come about. But, yes, it looks like it will.

S. Wiebe Terrific. Thanks so much.

S. Root Sure.

Moderator Thank you. The next question, from the line of Lance Carter, Daily Actor. Please go ahead.

L. Carter Hi, thatís me. How are you doing?

S. Root Iím good, man.

L. Carter Good. I walked past you at Actorfest this weekend.

S. Root Yes, I was happy to do that. Itís always good to come and tell your horror stories to the younger actors and tell them not to do it unless they really love it.

L. Carter Thatís good. I was going to ask you, Iím sure you said this there, but whatís your advice to actors?

S. Root That you shouldnít be doing it unless you have to do it, not to do it because you think it would be cool, or you think youíre going to make a lot of money, but because this is an artistic expression of yourself that you have to do.

You have to be able to stick it out for a number of years. Itís a hard thing. I think probably determination is the greatest thing and talent isnít. Iíve seen a lot of talented people go by the wayside who couldnít stick out the day-to-day. Itís determination and guts and luckóhave a lot more to do with it than anything else.

L. Carter Youíre just one of my favorite character actors and everything you do when youíre on screen is just so interesting. Do you ever get bored with some of the things youíre offered? Like, ďI donít want to do that.Ē Know what I mean?

S. Root Those things I donít take because Iím in a place where I really love not being pigeon-holed to do one thing or another. Iíll do a comedy and then Iíll do a drama and then Iíll do a sci-fi and then Iíll do an animation. Iím in a hugely lucky place to be able to work in a variety of things which kind of define the words, ďcharacter actor.Ē

L. Carter Whatís your, you probably said this at Actorfest too, what was the worst audition youíve ever had?

S. Root Worse audition Iíve ever had? Nothing jumps to mind. Iíve been horrible in so many. Itís hard to pick out a single one. But no, I couldnít really do that. I just know that at this point when I come into a room, if Iím able to do what I want to do, I really donít care whether I get the job.

If Iíve presented what I want to present in the room, then Iíve done that job and then itís not up to me. But, if I havenít done that, then thatís when I get upset. Itís like anything else, you want to be able to present what you want to present. Let it go from there.

L. Carter Thanks. Looking forward to watching the show.

S. Root Thanks so much.

Moderator Next question, from the line of Suzanne Lanoue of The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.

S. Lanoue Hi. Itís nice to talk to you today.

S. Root Thanks so much.

S. Lanoue Youíve done a lot of great TV shows and movies. What would you say, aside from Fringe, was the one that you enjoyed the most?

S. Root Thatís an impossibly hard question.

S. Lanoue I know.

S. Root Because you do so many things, probably series work has got to be your most favorite because youíre going through a family situation. I did King of the Hill for 13 years. Brittany Murphy was 18 when she started that project and by the time we finished weíd been through births and deaths and marriages.

I would have to say something like that or the run on NewsRadio were really your most favorite because youíre dealing with what has become your family.

S. Lanoue Do you still stay close to the actors from NewsRadio and Ö?

S. Root Yes. I get to see Dave every once in a while. Maura I seeóI just saw her in New York. Sheís doing well after her bout with cancer. Sheís great. I see a lot of the King of the Hill people because they also do other animated shows that Iíve been connected with. Yes we still all stay in touch.

S. Lanoue Alright. One more question. I was going to ask you about your time on True Blood. Thatís probably the most out there thing I think Iíve seen you do. Was that difficult at all?

S. Root You got to do things that scare you every once in a while. This was pretty far away from me. I really wanted to tackle it and see what it was like. I was really, really pleased with the way it came out. I was happy to work with those people.

Yes, I think you have to challenge yourself. You really have to stretch every once in a while. Sometimes it doesnít work and sometimes it does. But, unless youíre challenging yourself, then Iím not doing my job as a character actor.

S. Lanoue You certainly did great on that and I look forward to seeing you on Fringe.

S. Root Thanks so much.

Moderator Thank you. The next question from the line of Kyle Nolan of Please go ahead.

K. Nolan Hi Stephen. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

S. Root I love the name of the site.

K. Nolan Is there any one role of yours that people still stop you in the street and say, ďHi. I recognize you asĒ whatever that Ė

S. Root Yes. Itís pretty muchóhas to be Office Space. Iím currently in Georgia at the moment to see a friend of mine in a play and thatís pretty much what I get stopped for. Itís okay. Itís like the little movie that continues to be seen by people. Every couple of years theyíll discover that. I think it really speaks to mid-America. It just stays current.

K. Nolan Do you get a lot of fans sending you red staplers in the mail?

S. Root No. They want me to send them red staplers and they cost a lot so I canít do that. Iím happy. If they send me one Iíll most certainly sign it, but yes I still get a lot of requests for that.

K. Nolan Are there any shows that you watch that you really enjoy that itís something that you really would love to guest star on?

S. Root There are a few that I reallyóI love The Good Wife. Iíd love to work on that. I love well-written stuff. I saw Kelsey Grammarís new show Boss. I thought that was pretty good. You want to work on well-written stuff and with people you like. Off the top of my head, a lot of HBO stuff and FX stuff. I love doing, obviously, the Justified, Louie. Whateverís well-written, really.

K. Nolan Great. Thanks. I really enjoyed the episode.

S. Root Thanks.

Moderator The final question comes from the line of Diane Morasco of Morasco Media. Please go ahead.

D. Morasco Hi Stephen. Thank you so much for taking the call. My question is, which of your roles have presented most of a challenge in terms of getting to a comfortable level where you can stretch?

S. Root I think that True Blood was farthest away from me in the recent past. I think back in the beginning of the 90s when I was doing a lot of guest star stuff, it was fun doing a Klingon because I could actually use my Shakespeare training to talk over the dentures. That was interesting.

Anything you do you approach from, ďWhat would this character be?Ē How would you make him interesting to solve the problem that has to be solved? Iím just happy to work.

D. Morasco Thank you so much.

S. Root Sure.

D. Morasco Are you reading anything now you can share?

S. Root Not really. There are a couple of movie things coming up in next April that are possibilities that Iím excited about. Canít really talk about them though. Iím interested to see what people think of J. Edgar and when the new Redford movie comes out, what they think of that. Because they were both fun to work on.

D. Morasco Great. Thanks. With Season 5 of Sons of Anarchy, you never know.

S. Root Exactly. Iím over here.

D. Morasco Ö Stephen.

S. Root Thanks so much.

D. Morasco Thank you.

J. Governale Alright. Thank you everyone. This concludes the Fringe conference call with Stephen Root. As a reminder, the Fringe episode titled ďAnd Those Weíve Left BehindĒ airs this Friday, November 11th at 9/8 Central on Fox. Thank you.

S. Root Very cool.

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