Actor, Manly Man and Seinfeld Watcher
emily blunt interview
Sean Leonard's a quiet little studmuffin. He has that wispy hair
that makes a girl want to run a bubble bath and play hairdresser
at least. We are talking YUM-O-RAMA people.
He also happens to be an incredible actor's actor. Those who know
him, know. For those who don't, give a read. Get to know him,
rent his films and see his plays. His choices make it obvious
he's not in it for the doughski. And because of these choices
he's presently a quiet powerful talent lurking in the shadows...but
not for too much longer, I hope.
small talk let the chat begin!
[ I have no idea what to actually call this guy Robert, Rob, Bob
so I just
start] Your movie selections are so diversified. I mean Swing
Boys, Much to Do About Nothing, Dead Poet's Society
I thought you were a theater guy?
[laughter] I had done Driven because it seemed like a way
into the larger films
to be honest, it's when New York's
changed that I decided to do it. Eric McCormack replaces Craig
Bierko in 'Music
Man', Deborah Messing has the offer to play Viola in Central
Park in 'Twelfth Night' this summer. It's changed. Chris Walkin
and Kathleen Widows and Sam Waterston and Meryl Streep, they're
not coming up through Yale through the public theatre anymore.
Theatre is now that you bring people from L.A. to New York be
in it. To get people to go see it. Yeah.
You start losing roles to start losing roles to people who are
well-known. You work fifteen years, and you just know you're right
for the role and someone else gets it because they're on a television
show. And you say, 'ok, that's different than it was in the seventies
with Chris Walkin or Ron Julian but okay I guess I've got to adjust
Then again, television stars and movie stars coming to Broadway
can be a good thing. Prime example is your 'Iceman' role, thanks
to "star power" namely Kevin Spacey , 'The
Iceman Cometh', which is a colossal and behemoth production,
played unedited on the Great White Way again
and I had the
great pleasure to see you do Don
Parritt ...him do Hickey...so that was a good star-power
Yeah, but Kevin also had been in New York for fifteen years doing
True. How was it to work on the 'Iceman
Great! It was grueling! Those matinee days were pretty
memorable. It was five hours onstage, so it was a long night!
Yeah, I guess I don't mean star power per se. It isn't bad at
I would have gone anyway because I love O'Neill.
But with the powerful 'name' in the key role the doors were opened
for a proper staging! I got YOU, Paul Giamatti and a dozen
other real rounded talents in the mix! And look whose shoes Spacey
was stepping into [Jason Robards, the most famous Hickey, was
the reference]. I have a ton of respect for him.
Oh sure I see what your saying. Not a small easy piece huh? [laughter]
And Eric McCormack did 'Music Man' because he loves Frank Wilson,
and Eric was great. The thing [casting stars because of
their names] in itself isn't bad, it's just true. So if
you're a really good actor, that's great. If you're a really good
actor and you're on television, that's more helpful. Sometimes
it's unfair is all I really mean.
Yeah that's an absolute truth. But again, I feel if using a "name"
on a marquee gets people into theater seats it's acceptable. Provided
the human can act of course. Or ,also, if they're able
to get a production on stage that wouldn't even get made without
their "name" on it I'll take it!
Sure, but that's very rare. What Kevin did is rare. Most
people, like with the 'Graduate'. It's more just placing people
in shows than actually originating works from people like Kevin
Emily: I saw 'Judas Kiss' with Liam Neeson too that season. He
broke fourth wall at least six times! [we laugh at the quasi-thespian's
faux pas] Though he was still very good. What made you
take the role in Driven? It's so off character for you
[laughter] Hmm. So you do four movies in a row and they all go
to video [laughter] . So you call your agents and say 'look, I
need to do a movie that will come out. I can't do another movie
I don't want to hear this is a first time writer/director
again. [laughter] I'm sure that they're the next Scorsese and
I'm gonna blow it, but I've done that four times and they weren't
the next Scorsese, so get me a movie that I know is coming out.
I just need to be in a movie that's coming out and is in some
way good and a part that will be right for me and memorable.'
And I read about ten scripts and Driven was the part. I
loved the part. It was really funny and very clear and very well-driven
and very well-defined in the script. He had very clear tensions
and I thought he was a funny guy to play. He was a fun guy to
Did that experience sour you on the big studios?
No no no. It just was a bomb! [laughter] You know! But no. I had
a ball. I loved the character. His girl, Stacy Edwards, was great.
I had a great time with her. No, not at all. I also haven't seen
it, because it was out so short. But no, I really enjoyed playing
that guy. And it was nice to be in a movie that came out [laughter]!
I actually liked it
other than the kid that kept sweatin'
through the damn thing- what was that? [laughter] Chelsea
Walls recently opened. You
and Ethan Hawke [who directed] have been
friends since you were teenagers and have the theater group [Malaparte]
together . What was it like to have him in an authority role over
you here? Did you find yourself laughing at him when he got too
Not so much at him. I'd say 'I'm not laughing at you, but more
I'm laughing near you.' [laughs] No, it was something I'm used
to. He was creative, the artistic, director of a theatre company,
whatever that meant, which even he would laugh at. You know, he's
a leader. He's one of those guys who is extremely proactive. He
gets things done. And that's great. We're both very similar actors;
we use the same language. It was in no way uncomfortable. It was
a little bit odd, but mostly enjoyable. You know, he's in that
power. So yeah a little of both. It was a little bit weird, but
in no way uncomfortable. Just sort of strange. Honestly I was
more proud than anything else I guess. In a way his authority
status was strange, except we really were all friends, so if it
was a set with complete strangers and Ethan was directing I would
probably feel differently. But this was so familiar to me, just
sitting in a room with Steve Zahn and
Nicole Bernette and Ethan, so a little bit, but the place was
so familiar and the people were so familiar that it wasn't too
Now you also said you felt lazy around him sometimes. Why do you
He's extremely artistically, uh, if you could say it... he's...
I want to say he's prolific. But I guess it's better to say he's
so multi-talented and he refuses to ignore any of those places
he can go. He bangs out a tune on the piano and he writes a story
and directs a film and produces a play. You know, he's very impressive
He's like a human Swiss Armyknife. Your true love is theater
[laughter] The one thing I love about theater is that you're home
in time for Seinfeld, Which I've always loved. You have your day
to see your family and go to the town pool and read a book, and
you have to be at work at seven and you're home by eleven. I love
that. I'm a little more
I don't know what it is
but I don't feel quite as on fire artistically as Ethan does.
Perhaps wiser ?
[laughter] No, I just have less to say.
You said you had your Chelsea Walls role really worked
out well in rehearsal. You all worked in it like a play.
We rehearsed a little bit. Not on tape we really did rehearse
like a play. Yeah.
Was working in DV different from another medium because of the
freedom to "waste" film?
Sure, sure. You could be free to play. Even in a play, every night
you stick to the script. I mean, we didn't improvise, but there
were surprises you know? You turn around and the guy who was facing
you the last time you did that line isn't facing you this time
so you tap his shoulder. [laughter] Sure.
Keepin' it real method. [we laugh at my tacky thespian joke]
Are you working on something right now?
No I just did a year and a half straight and I'm exhausted.
Taking a vacation? [thought but not spoken: so I can conveniently
be in the adjacent room with my handy peep-hole tool?]
Yeah, perhaps. I did a [Tom] Stoppard play, and then, as you know,
I did Music Man [Harold Hill] after Eric, so I've been singing
"Trouble" for six months. I'm exhausted!
I need a little break!
that we babbled a bit about vacation spots and I offered to draw
him a hot steamy love bath -- well in my "inner dialog"
at least. Purr. Bobby had to boogie. He's a lovely man;
so handsome and talented. And alas yet another very upfront open
chap. I dig that. Hopefully his next Hollywood shindig will be
better received than Driven. And Chelsea
Walls, while not a huge crowd pleaser, definitely shows off
his talents. Find it if you're into actors acting
expect a huge plot m' kay.