Interview with Stephen Root

Stephen Root is most known for his role of Milton in Mike Judge’s “Office Space”. He is one of the most amazing character actors in the business. Stephen has worked on worked in comedies “Dodgeball: An Underdog Tale” to drama in HBO’s “True Blood”. He also worked a lot in voice overs starting from “King of the Hill” to the upcoming “Rango”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Stephen about his roles and what he is currently working on.

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Mike Gencarelli: How did you start working with Mike Judge and play the role of Milton in “Office Space”?
Stephen Root: I worked on “King of the Hill” starting in 1996, so I worked with Mike about a year before he decided to do “Office Space”. I ended up doing the table reading for 20th Century Fox with Mike. He was originally going to read the character of Milton and he told me to do it last minute. I read Milton, the psychiatrist, one of the Bob’s and a whole bunch of other roles. He liked Milton and thought it was best for me and from that he cast me in the role.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you have any idea how popular of a role that would be?
Stephen Root: It just keeps going on and on. I think it resonates with the soft underbelly of America. Every two or three years there are these guys doing that exact job in a office, just like the movie. It keeps getting discovered by broader audience and keeps growing. I think it is a timeless story.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “Finding Nemo” and do the voice of Bubbles?
Stephen Root: Well, John Lasseter really enjoyed the “Office Space” role and wanted to stick me in what he was doing at the time. He actually wanted to have the Milton voice animated up to Bubbles’ voice. It wasn’t done exactly. I was very happy to be involved with the movie. I think Pixar makes incredible pictures. Their storytelling is just phenomenal. I was very happy to be involved with anything thing that they are working on.

MG: Was it fun being a part of the “True Blood” series playing Eddie Gauthier?
SR: When I had done that show, it it was not as popular yet. I did it during the first season and it wasn’t quite there yet. They weren’t sure whether the show was going to be a success or not. I was happy to come on board. I have always wanted to work on a Alan Ball show. I was really a big fan of “Six Feet Under”. I like doing arcs on shows as oppose to getting stuck on one [laughs]. When you are doing like three or four episodes, you have more freedom to other projects like movies or other shows. You look for people that you want to work with and Alan Ball was certainly one of those for me.

MG: Do you have a preference perhaps works in voice over compared to on screen roles?
SR: No, I like to do it all. I started out in theater and worked in that for twelve years. I have done a lot of TV and there is different kinds of TV. There is audience TV for when you are doing a sitcom or single camera TV when you are doing drama. The later is more like when you are doing movies. I enjoy doing all of it. I try to mix it up doing a comedy then something serious. I am character actor that is what we do.

MG: How do you usually prepare for each role you do?
SR: Same way, whether it is animation or live action or sitcom. You find out what out what your character is like. You find out how you would feel comfortable in his skin. The same way you prepare for any role. Obviously animation is all about the voice, you need to be very specific about that. You are preparing pretty much the same way.

MG: You also start production on Kevin Smith’s “Red State” this month correct?
SR: Yeah that’s true, we are going to start in October. Melissa Leo is one board and a whole bunch of other people I can’t say yet because they are not officially signed.

MG: Tell us about the upcoming “Rango”?
SR: “Rango” is going to be a big film. I did a couple of roles. I play Doc’ and Merrymack in “Rango”. One is a banker and the other is a degenerate drunk. It is two different characters in one movie. Gore Verbenski was tremendous director. We actually filmed a lot of the movie on set just for reference material for the animators. That way they could use some of the body motions for us. It was a great project to work on as well. Johnny Depp was great and so was everyone was great. You have a lot of character actors in that movie as well.

Click here to purchase “True Blood” merchandise
Click here to purchase Stephen’s movies

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