Atlantic City was the place to go for fun on the beach and for its famous boardwalk, but this strip of beach has a rich history that goes way beyond the Miss America Pageants and its famous diving horse. When a good friend and fellow writer Uriah Young asked if I would be interested in interviewing an actor who would be in the fifth and final season of HBO’s hit series “Boardwalk Empire,” which is loosely based the book written by Nelson Johnson, my reply was, “Holy salt water taffy!” I would love to introduce the talented actor, Stephen Hill, to our followers of Biff Bam Pop!.
Marie Gilbert: “Welcome to Biff Bam Pop!, Stephen. Tell us a little bit about yourself… where you grew up… where you live now and what drew you to acting… did you always want to be an actor?”
Stephen Hill: “My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and my father lived in Harlem and my mother lived in Englewood NJ and later Willingboro, NJ. I traveled back and forth from Jersey to NY until I left for college and I still consider both places home. As an only child between my parents but a middle child in a pretty large family I’ve always found ways to entertain for attention. I’ve always been artistic but I didn’t know I would be an actor until after college. I actually thought I would be behind the camera as a director or cinematographer. I didn’t go with the title actor until I had been doing it for about 5 or 6 years…I felt it was a title people would take on after taking 1 acting class. I wanted to earn it. I’m still earning it!”
Stephen Hill: “Christmas Wedding Baby tells the story of three sisters of which the youngest is getting married in her hometown of Jacksonville, FL on Christmas Day. I play the role of Isaac, the longtime boyfriend of the middle sister, Charlotte (Frances Turner). Isaac is under pressure from his girlfriend because her “little” sister is getting married and he still hasn’t popped the question yet. CWB is the writer/director, Kiara Jones’ NYU senior thesis film and Frances and I have been working with her since her first film at NYU. CWB is going to be a lot of fun for the audience and we are elated to premiere at Urbanworld Film Festival as they have always been such a strong platform to display our hard work and realize our dreams.”
Marie Gilbert: “I watched Draft Day and did a review of the film for Biff Bam Pop!. Tell us about your part… how you got the part… and what is was like working alongside Kevin Costner?”
Stephen Hill: “I am actually not in Draft Day, somehow that is mistakenly on IMDb. I do very little to maintain that page, the way it works for most actors is you log on usually to check out what projects are coming up and you check your own page to see what projects you’ve done have been listed. I saw Draft Day and said, whoa nobody told me about this! Oh well, for now it may be a gift to get people to pay attention to some of the other work I’ve done that’s far more in depth than the role I would have had in Draft Day. I’d love to work with Kevin Costner though.”
Marie Gilbert: “You’ve worked on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Tell us a bit about both parts and what was it like working with Danny DeVito?”
Stephen Hill: “Law & Order SVU was pretty special because I originally had 2 words scripted “no ma’am” the director liked what I was doing and gave me a few more lines on the spot and he said “this will be your close up too”. That episode had some really cool actors in it as well; Devin Ratray from Home Alone, David Patrick Kelly from The Warriors, Taryn Manning from Hustle and Flow, and it was the last season Christopher Meloni was on the show.
Always Sunny was amazing, Philadelphia, Heery casting, and Plaza 7 Talent have been such great proponents of my career. So many magical moments have happened in the city of brotherly love. To give an example, when Danny DeVito turned the corner for the 1st take of our scene I literally froze and forgot all my lines, this was the first and last time this happened to me. I said “Can I do that again?” Lol. From then on I nailed it… we even did some improv that made the final cut. We had a great time.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’ve heard that you’ll be in HBO’s hit “Boardwalk Empire.” Tell us about this.”
Stephen Hill: “Well I wanted to keep it all under wraps but the second trailer for the show was just released and I’m in it for less than a second but one of my good friends and supporters spotted me and let the cat out the bag. Yeah I’m talking to you Abs. Lol. Boardwalk is my favorite show and to be cast and working alongside veteran actors like Jeffrey Wright is the stuff dreams are made of…the proverbial dream come true. I play the part of Clarence and I’m in multiple episodes too. Oh and my scenes were all shot in Harlem. You’ve gotta love it when you wake up and you’re only 10 minutes from set.”
Marie Gilbert: “You’ve been on many television series… which one was your favorite to work on?”
Stephen Hill: “Boardwalk of course but working on Unforgettable was a great experience too. Working with Jane Curtin in a hostage situation… even though it was drama, it was also very funny. My character was pretty bad ass so I had to keep my laughter on the inside… deep down inside.”
Marie Gilbert: “Do you prefer doing movies or television and why?”
Stephen Hill: “In the capacity that I have worked on both they have been very similar. I would say movies though because I get the chance to play more well-rounded characters in lead roles, especially in indie films Stay Cold, Stay Hungry. I’m looking forward to working as a series regular on TV and then I can truly answer this question.”
Marie Gilbert: “What are your plans for the future?”
Stephen Hill: “My plans are to consistently work and lay a strong financial foundation for my family. I also want to establish something significant to give back to my community and world.”
Marie Gilbert: “If you could star in any movie, past, present or future; what would it be? Why?”
Stephen Hill: “I would love to play the lead in a super hero film. I used to collect comic books and I remember reading stacks of comics until the early hours of the morning some nights. Playing one of those highly imaginative characters in a family friendly film would be beyond awesome.”
Marie Gilbert: “If you could pick any leading lady, who would you like as your love interest in a film or television series?”
Stephen Hill: “I’ve been lucky to have worked with so many brilliant actresses… Nedra McClyde, DeWanda Wise, Ebbey Bassey Manczuk, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Malikha Mallette are just a few of the talented actresses I’ve worked with and would love to keep working with as our careers all continue to grow. If I had to choose an actress with more immediate notoriety I would go with Jill Scott. Jill is such a rare talent and I’d be honored to be her leading man…maybe I’ll get her to sing happy birthday to me, and it doesn’t even have to be my birthday. Lol Ultimately, I simply want to work with actresses I’d want to work with for hours and days on a set. Margot Bingham from Boardwalk Empire comes to mind as she is probably one of the nicest actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”
Marie Gilbert: “I want to thank you, Stephen for taking the time to do this interview.