John Stamos – New Kid in ER
Updated: Apr 20
New Kid in ER
by Deborah Wagner
For John Stamos, a two-episode gig on ER last season has turned into somewhat of a re-birth for his career. Now a full time cast member, Stamos has breathed some new life and enthusiasm into the award-winning hospital drama, which is in its thirteenth season. Stamos is also branching out in his roles, showing us a little more of himself in other recent parts like A&E’s TV movie Wedding Wars.
Stamos has undoubtedly grown and matured into a pretty fine actor since first debuting on General Hospital as Blackie Parrish back in 1981. Now with Full House’s Uncle Jesse and the mullet far in his past, this 43-year-old actor is busier than ever, without a lot of down time between shooting ER, making movies, specials and continuing to rock on his side gig as sometime drummer with the Beach Boys.
With an impressive career that has spanned over 25 years, Stamos has mastered many avenues of entertainment. However, in spite of the attention and acclaim (and being voted People’s Sexiest Man Alive), Stamos doesn’t let it go to his head. He’s funny, friendly, talented and enjoying the fruits of a long, successful career.
Hi John, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Where are you? I am in Philadelphia. Ohhhhhh... the home of Bob Saget! Yes, the home of Bob Saget. (Laughs) Actually, I live in Abington which I believe is where he grew up. Oh really? You know, you guys should erect some kind of sign or something as you drive in saying "Bob Saget Country." How about Sagetville? We'll just change the name from Abington to Sagetville? (Laughs) Yeah, Sagetville. That's funny. That would be perfect!
Actually, his picture is up in my favorite Chinese Restaurant. Oh really, WOW! Fascinating. (Laughs) What is this interview for? This is for PopEntertainment.com. It's a web magazine. And we have hundreds of different interviews on there, including a few past and present ER cast member stories. Are you guys fans of ER? We are.
Very cool. So, what do you want to talk about?
I guess we’ll start way, way back.... You obviously started as an actor on General Hospital playing Blackie Parrish.
Oh God, how long ago was that? 25 years ago, I think.
Yeah, it was. It’s often said that soaps are steppingstones and great training for actors. Do you feel you learned a lot about acting from the show?
I did, yeah. First and foremost you learn discipline. You’ve got to be there every day and there‘s a lot of dialogue. When the character started to get popular, I was learning 30 pages a day of dialogue or something. You’d have to go through every emotion in one hour; sad, mad, crying, up and down, all over. So, for that it was good. I was very fortunate to break out and do other things. I think it can get detrimental if you stay on those shows too long… but I did learn a lot.
Another early role for you was Full House which was a light comedy. Now, you are doing serious drama. Which one is more of a challenge for you as an actor?
Well, somebody in a movie said that dying is easy, comedy is hard. Comedy is really hard. It was hard maybe coming off of Jake in Progress, which I did last year [and going straight to ER.] The Tony Gates character has a sense of humor which I really like. I think one of my jobs on ER is to add a little levity to the show. But they are both hard and they’re both challenging.
What’s it like entering an award-winning TV drama already in its thirteenth season, and you’re the new guy in town?
Ahhhh yeah... The NFG is what they called me for a while.
The NFG, huh?
Yeah, the New F-in’ Guy. (laughs) You know it’s really been a highlight of my career. It’s hands down – and I hate to sound, whatever – but it’s my favorite job I’ve ever had. I love it. They were great. I came into it hopefully with a humble eye and someone who wanted to learn and kind of play by the way they work – which coincided with the way I like to work, so it was just kind of a natural fit. One of the things that I am most proud of on that show is how when I see it I look like I don’t stick out. I think I do fit in. It was just the right time for me to be in the show. So it’s all been a great experience.
ER seems like a very fast-paced show with a lot going on and a lot of technical terms to learn. Is it hard to keep up to speed?
Yes! (Laughs) When you see it, a lot of it is shot in one take. Sometimes they do two pages, and you’ll have one line at the end of it. The whole time you’re thinking of your line, thinking of your line. But I like to work that way. I like to work under pressure, and I think my spending time in the theater has helped with that too. You have one shot to get it right.
Your ER character Tony Gates is a likeable, flirtatious med student who seems to rebel against authority and makes his own decisions. Are there any similarities with the real John Stamos?
(Laughs) I’m not as rebellious as him. Yeah, Tony is a fully loaded character, I like to say. You know, I like that they started him off with flaws and trouble. He does have a dark past and is a bit of a bad boy and that he questions authority. I mean, I think it does come naturally questioning some of the authority in that show, because he comes in as an intern, yet he has as much experience as all of them in there. You know, he’d been in the Persian Gulf War.
Do you foresee the story line continuing with you butting heads with Dr. Pratt [Mekhi Phifer]?
I think that kind of smooths out a little bit and it turns into more of the relationship stuff. I’m dealing with my buddy’s widow. I’ve been taking care of her and her daughter and now I have this budding relationship with Neela’s character. That’s kind of where my story is focusing right now – having to deal with those two entities.
Do you have any say in the direction your character is taking?
You know, we talk about it and I’m in such good hands with this writing so I’m not into it much. But sure, I meet with them once in a while and we talk about the character. Early on, it was interesting, I met with the writers, and we just painted some broad strokes which have all kind of come true about who he is. So, yeah, we do talk about what kind of guy he is. I spoke to them specifically about what kind of guy I wanted to play. I think he’s more of a guy’s guy than I’ve played before. We started with that, a flawed kind of everyday guy which has been different for me.
Do you have any dream storyline that you would like to see Tony involved in?
I love the stuff that they are writing. Not to be a kiss ass (laughs) but there’s some really interesting stuff going on, again with the Meg character and her daughter and Parminder [Nagra, who plays Neela]. I mean there is going to be a real big train wreck coming up pretty soon which will be a lot of fun to do so I just love it.
Sounds quite interesting...
Yeah. It really is.
I watched Wedding Wars last night and really enjoyed it. It’s a funny, cute movie about a very serious subject. Your character was very passionate about gay marriages. What is it like to take on such a serious subject?
Well, I think it was just time for me to start having a point of view as a person. I grew up being told not to talk about religion and politics. Don’t piss anybody off. Just go down the middle. But as I’m growing up, I realized that I have something to say and I do have a point of view. So this is a good way to do it without going out and standing on a soap box somewhere. I can just play this guy, play this character and let that represent what I feel.
Do you think it’s easier to make a lighter movie like this when you’re talking about such a serious subject?
Yeah. Well, I think in this case it helps because it makes it easier to watch.
You’re not hitting someone over the head with it.
Exactly. I think that’s why it was important that they used somebody like me in this role. Hopefully I can help get people to watch and stay with it that maybe normally wouldn’t watch a movie like that. But it’s an important issue obviously and that it’s a good way to present it.
When it’s just about equality, why do you think that so many people are still opposed to gay marriage?
Ummmm, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I think that they probably just don’t understand it and maybe this movie will help.
I hope so. I actually met you backstage many, many years ago while you were drumming for the Beach Boys.
No actually, you were in Allentown, PA which is really close to Philly.
I actually remember one of the first times I ever played with the band was on Fourth of July at the library, I think?
It was at the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Yes, right. That was it.
At the time, my mother lived in the building next door, and we watched you from the balcony.
(Laughs) That’s cool.
But, many years later I met you backstage while you were drumming with the Beach Boys. You have also sung “Ben” in Wedding Wars and sang “Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)” on the Unexpected Dreams CD. Do you have a bit of a frustrated musician in you?
(Laughs) Well, I think I’d be frustrated if I didn’t get to get it out. But I get to sing once in a while, like in the Broadway plays. I still get to play with the Beach Boys. So, I get to do it enough.
Was it fun to poke fun at yourself in the short film “I Am Stamos?”
Yes. I always enjoy poking fun at myself. (Laughs) I guess. (Laughs harder)
In The Beach Boys: An American Family and Martin and Lewis you got involved in producing. Did you enjoy that cross over to the other side of the business?
Yeah, I did. It was during a time that things were slow for me as an actor, so I jumped on that and I learned a lot. And coincidently, the people I produced those with are the guys that are producing Wedding Wars. Now I’m getting ready to do Raisin in the Sun with them, which is for ABC with Sean [P. Diddy] Combs, so look out for that.
I will. Now, you have already done so much in your career – TV, movies, music, Broadway, producing, etc. What’s next for you?
Well, I’m just going to continue on where I’m at. I’m playing these different roles, like in Raisin in the Sun; I play this white racist who’s trying to get them to move out of the neighborhood. Now I’m just trying to explore playing different characters.
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 10, 2006.
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