Trash Mutant Interviews (TMI): Erik Weiner
- by Señor Editor, 27 July 2012
TRASH MUTANT: The story of Terence Winter finding your “One Line on The Sopranos” viral video (a hilarious song about the real story of a young actor getting the part in HBO’s hit show - if you haven't seen it yet, scroll down to the bottom of the page, watch it and immediately come back here!) and inviting you to the “Boardwalk Empire” auditions is pretty well known at this point. You obviously got the part and did a great job bringing the corrupt Agent Sebso to life. What was it like working on the show? Could you shed some light on some of your “behind the scenes” life on the Boardwalk Empire set?
ERIK WEINER: Working on Boardwalk was one of the highlights of my acting career. Since it was the first season, there was a sense of community and excitement among all the actors and crew, knowing we were part of something unique and special. Most of my scenes were with Michael Shannon so I got to spend quite a bit time with him. He's a great guy. We loved busting each other balls, though I gotta hand it to him, he's way better at it than I am, and I can't really push it too far because he could knock me out with his pinky.
Was Sebso's ultimate fate known to you from the beginning of your work on the show? Or was it dropped on you suddenly like "Good job today, Erik! Now get ready for your death scene, here's the script"?
I didn't know Sebso's storyline when I started. I didn't even know that I was going to be in the series - I just thought I was in the pilot. We were only given the scenes we were in for each episode and then would hear the full script at the table read. When I read the scene where I shot Billy Winslow, I thought to myself, "Uh-oh, I think there's gonna be some retribution for that one." And, sure enough, Sebso's murderous and lying ways caught up to him. Terence Winter called me into his office one day and I was excited, thinking maybe he wanted to do a Sebso spin-off show, but he actually wanted to tell me they were killing me. I was bummed but looking back I'm so grateful for the time I had on the show and what a way to go out, right? And Terry, Tim, and Gene Kelly, are all-around great guys and great producers. They were so cool to let me come back and shoot my "Boardwalk Empire State of Mind" music video. If they asked me to play Townsperson #4 in their next TV show I would do it in a heartbeat, but also would try to get bumped up to Townsperson #3 by flexing some of my improv skills. I'd probably come up with a killer improv line like, "Me too!" or something.
While Agent Sebso met his demise in season one (and so far there's no sign of his twin, eyepatch-wearing, brother), his death became a major plot point again in the second season. Did it bring you some satisfaction that even from behind the grave, Sebso continues to matter in Atlantic City?
Yes. I hope to appear in at least one "Previously on..." per season.
Tim Van Patten (also of The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire fame) directed the first two episodes of “Game of Thrones”. We're huge fans of the book series and the TV show, but as the series went on I caught myself thinking "This is all very nice, but who does Erik Weiner play?". One line on "The Sopranos", 9 episodes on "Boardwalk Empire"... I figured at least 2 seasons in "Game of Thrones", HBO's next big thing, would make some sort of sense. Are you a fan of the show? Would you consider playing a part in it?
I love "Game of Thrones". I would love to be on that. Townsperson #4 perhaps? Are there any Jewish tribes in Season 3?
A lot of your work for TV and the theater has been done in collaboration with Jordan Allen-Dutton, with whom you’re collectively known as Famous Last Nerds. How did this longtime creative partnership begin?
Jordan and I met at NYU a long time ago and wrote a play called "The Bomb-itty of Errors" with some other friends. We realized we love writing together and have been writing partners for years now. We've written on Robot Chicken, written online videos, some of which he's directed, and we have lots of projects in the works together, including a new musical comedy for the stage.
The sixth season of “Robot Chicken” is scheduled to premiere this September. You've been a writer for the show for many years, and it got you a nomination for an Emmy in 2007 and 2008. Will you be returning to it this year?
I actually just finished writing on the sixth season - the scripts are done, now they're animating. And I just found out last week that Jordan and I received our third Emmy nomination for writing on the 100th episode of Robot Chicken (Season 5). Wings crossed!
From the acclaimed play "The Bomb-itty of Errors" to your many online videos, you've been rapping a whole lot throughout the years. Using rap in comedy often falls flat when someone doesn't have an appreciation, or a good enough grasp on hip-hop to begin with. You've been making it work for years now, with fantastic results. Are you a hip-hop fan in general? And if so, what are some of the emcees you enjoy listening to the most?
I grew up listening to hip-hop and my playlists are still dominated by it. I can't quit you, hip-hop! You complete my rhymes! Hip-hop is such a great vehicle for comedy - there's a set-up and a punchline every two lines. I don't consider myself a rapper or MC. I just like making people laugh and love writing rhymes. I'd say my favorite MCs are Mos Def, Q-Tip, Nas, and Michael Bublé.
The music section of your website teases us with just the words "Album coming soon". Can you reveal some info on that and tell us a bit about what we can expect and when we can expect it?
I'm trying to put together a mixtape of all my songs with some never-before-heard tracks and some remixes. Hopefully will have that in the next couple months. Maybe ready to download for free for the holidays!
I just now found out you did some voice acting for “GTA: San Andreas”. I love that game! Whenever I hear that some actor or musician that I enjoy voiced somebody in a game I spent many, many days playing, my reaction is “Really? Which character was he/she the voice of?” And then I feel compelled to go play the game again just so I can check it out for myself. Admittedly, it is a bit compulsive. You were the voice of “Pedestrian”. Is there any chance you still remember some of your lines from the game?
Wow, I can guarantee you I've never been asked that question before, so props to you for digging in the vaults! I don't really remember my lines. It was somewhat similar to what I imagine my lines would be as Townsperson #4 for Terry Winter's new show, "Gangster Townspeople" on Cinemax. Example: "Me too!", "Look out, a car!", and "Leon, take your break at two!"
You're an actor, writer, producer and a musician (and I'm probably still missing some things). While I imagine all of those must be satisfying in different ways, what do you enjoy doing the most?
Nude rollerblading. Was that an option? Let me read it again. No it wasn't. But I feel it's fair for your readers to know. Of those you list, I would say I enjoy acting the most. But I do love creating work for myself and others to perform in.
And what’s the creative work of yours that you're most proud of?
The thing that springs to mind is that "The Bomb-itty of Errors" was recently published through Samuel French and I see all these productions springing up around the nation in colleges, high schools, regional theaters and more. The show has been done in Amsterdam in Dutch, in Scotland, Denmark, and other places around the world. It's really amazing to see images popping up on the internet of high school students dressed as Hasidic rappers and Rastafarian doctors.
Other than the music album & the sixth season of "Robot Chicken", are there any upcoming roles or projects you're involved in that your fans can be looking forward to? This is also the part of the interview where any and all plugs or shout outs are welcome.
Shouts out to P-Money Skizz! Dinglebart! Febreeze Jamison! Ok, now that those are out of the way...probably what I'm most excited about is the new play I'm working on - NERDS - it's a musical comedy about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. We're going to have a production in North Carolina in January and then hopefully bring it back to New York. I think it's pretty amazing. I've also got a TV series I've been working on with some friends I'm really enthusiastic about. And some more videos on the way. But my main plan is I'm putting most of my money into Netflix stock. Have you guys heard about this? DVDs...in the mail!!!
Thank you so much for the interview!
To find out more about Erik, view all his fantastic online videos and check out all his projects, head over to his official website: ErikWeiner.com