Actor Name: Fisher Stevens
Fisher Stevens Interview
Q: Tell me how you ended up on The Blacklist this season?
A: Well, they asked me to be on it, and I'm huge fan of James Spader. I've known him for 25 years, basically, but we've never gotten to work together except at the Sundance Labs. It shoots not far from my house and the show is very popular and very cool so I decided to do it. I was happy they asked me.
Q: Do you get a chance to interact with Spader much during this episode?
A: Yes. I have a couple of really fun moments with James and my character, he's kinda fun. It's turning into a fun role. Lot of energy.
Q: Tell me about Marvin?
A: He was a brilliant lawyer, and on his way up, moving very quickly. He married the head of his law firm's daughter, a very powerful man's daughter, so he was also very ambitious. Unfortunately his wife was a bit of a monster, he couldn't stand her after a while, and didn't like the way she was raising their son. He was actually terrified about the way she was dealing with their son and so he tried to kidnap him. Because of her father's power, even though his ex-wife was a monster, he got in trouble and ended up going to jail. And then his son ended up committing suicide.
A: He got out of jail, and then her father got him on tax evasion because they just didn't want to give up. So he's representing Reddington now. He's Reddington's lawyer, and also a lawyer to a bunch of badass people because he's quite brilliant. So he broke my character out of jail to help him with this huge, huge thing he's working on.
Q: What is this thing you're representing him on?
A: I'm not representing him, I'm helping to facilitate what he needs, because he needs to surround himself with really smart people who can help him. He told the authorities that he needed his lawyer and he ended up getting me out of jail and keeping me hidden because he's going to need me to help him with many different things to get what he needs. I'm one of those trusted, smart people in his life.
Q: As a character actor, you're certainly a man of many faces. Did you have input into the look of the character?
A: Yes, I'm definitely involved in the look. I had a beard and The Blacklist showrunner really liked the way it looked, and then we styled my hair a bit. I'd been in jail, and I think we all liked the way that I just don't shave anymore, and after having spent so many years as a lawyer having to shave, just figured out it's nice not to have to and be free. And then we found some really interesting glasses, kind of a look that a lawyer would wear, and in the last episode, he went into my closet and got an ugly suit of mine so I was wearing this ugly suit. In this next episode, I'd been in Tahiti and I'd been living a much healthier life, so I'll be dressed a bit differently because I'm no longer having to wear that hideous suit he got from my closet.
Q: There's a photo of you on IMDb from Racing Extinction that looks a bit like what you're describing…
A: Racing Extinction is a documentary I'm producing. I'm not in it, but that picture was probably taken while I was shooting The Blacklist. I've been spending quite a lot of time making movies on the other end, producing and directing documentaries, so that's my day job. I made a film called The Cove, about the dolphin slaughters in Japan and Racing Extinction is kind of the sequel. We're all the same team. It had a very small opening on Friday, but it will have a huge release on Discovery network in 240 territories on one night starting in New Zealand, like the ball dropping, going all the way to Los Angeles, on December 2.
Q: Speaking about your documentary work, I've read that this is what you've been doing for a while, and I did see The Cove. What is it that drew you to the work behind the camera?
A: I love acting, but there's something amazing about documenting real life and capturing it, and then trying to tell a story without a script and telling it in editing room. I just fell in love with the form. I also became quite interested in climate change, and the environment and thought this would be a great way to express yourself while making movies that are interesting and entertaining.
A: I'm making a film also with Alexis Bloom. We're co-directing a film for HBO on the relationship between Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, mother-daughter, living together which is a whole other place on the spectrum. After I got involved in my first documentary, I kinda fell in love with the form, and I'm working on a bunch of them now actually.
A: I like also to travel and it's given me access to go all over the world and meeting the most amazing people.
Q: Documentaries are a big job, and if that's what your 'day job' is, how do you balance the other work you do as an actor?
A: You know, I really hadn't been available to do much acting work and then I did a small part in a Coen brothers movie at the beginning of the year and it reinvigorated my love for acting and also working with Wes Anderson and doing a tiny role with him, I just said, 'Oh my god!' It made me love acting again because I got to work with Wes and Joel and Ethan, and so I've been trying to reschedule my life so I can do things like The Blacklist. I'm also on the set of this new HBO show called Vice Principal with Danny McBride because I've been a huge fan.
A: If it's with people that I love and want to work with like James Spader, then I'm trying to carve out more time. But it isn't easy. I'm going on a shoot to Beijing and to New Delhi in two weeks and then I'm going to Paris to film the climate change summit after that. It's not easy. But it's a great life. It's a beautiful life, so I'm very grateful and feel very blessed that I can do that.
Q: You mention that for acting roles it's the people that you're wanting to work with that's drawn you back to acting, but how much does the character you're playing fit into that draw?
A: Well, it depends. On The Blacklist, the role was fantastic. Marvin was a great character. I remember for Racing Extinction, we projected animals on the side of the Empire State Building, I don't know if you saw that event [this August], but for the first time, endangered species were projected on the Empire State Building, and it's the ending of our film. I was shooting the projection from a helicopter for the end, and my agent was calling me going, 'You've gotta decide are you going to Blacklist or not. It starts shooting in like four days,' and I was like, 'Okay, I wanna do it! I'll do it! I'll do it! I can't wait!' But scheduling is always a problem because I loved the role, but there were definitely scheduling issues, and I was so glad that I could guest because it was a blast working with the character, and hopefully will continue to be when I start shooting on Monday.
A: I shoot on my news doc on Saturday and then I shoot on The Blacklist on Monday, and I'm in South Carolina shooting for HBO today.
Q: Although you're producing and directing documentaries, is there something about that directing process that now informs how you do what you do as an actor?
A: I think it certainly helps me understand the editing process and how my performances will be edited. Before I was just acting, I was just doing the role. But now I'm figuring out how it's going be cut together, and also because I don't act full time, it's so special when I do and it's given me a renewed love for acting. Having directed actors it's given me more love for the craft and for the actors, and more respect for directors and what they go through. A: I started very young so I needed to find some other avenues to express my creativity, and now I'm having a really good time with acting. So it' really special when I get to do it.
Q: What do you find interesting in coming back for a second round with this character in The Blacklist?
A: What's cool about this episode is that it brings up climate change and how man is slowly ruining the planet with what we're doing to it. Without preaching, I love the messaging the show has about certain issues, without hitting anyone over the head or getting on a pedestal. A: I think it's such a really beautifully directed and well-written show, and a lot of people love it. Again, James Spader, he's one of our great actors so it's a joy to get to spare with him whenever I can.
Q: What's sparing with James Spader like?
A: He's very present to work with. He's in the moment, and he's curious and he listens, and he has an incredible work ethic and really, really wants to make the show as good as it can be. He's been on the show for three years. Sometimes The Blacklist is hyper-real, and the way to make it work is to play everything like it's completely real, and he's able to do that, it's wonderful to watch. That's the other thing. So when you get to work with someone who has talent and is into doing all those things, it's quite inspiring.
Q: Based on the storyline, it sounds like the role was almost.
A: Yeah, it's a fun role. I wish I had more time to be in it more. [laughs]