John Stamos On Law & Order: SVU, Glee, Demi Moore, George Clooney
By: Daedrian McNaughton
Premier Guide Media caught up with Actor/producer John Stamos recently to discuss his appearance on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” and on Fox’s hit series “Glee.”
Stamos’ most recent television credit was starring in NBC’s Emmy Award-winning drama series “ER,” playing Tony Gates, a maverick, hot-tempered, and flirtatious doctor and Gulf War veteran. His addition to the ensemble cast helped create a resurgence in ratings for one of the longest-running prime-time dramas now on TV.
In the interview, Stamos discussed how he managed to stay relevant after decades in the industry, his 45 minutes chat with Demi Moore on General Hospital and his conversation with George Clooney about still being around.
It seems like you’ve had a fulfilling career. How have you managed to stay relevant after 25 years?
John Stamos: Well that’s a good question. I mean it baffles me. Doing some of these popular shows have been good for me, certainly Entourage, certainly Glee. Again at the same time I think that’s the answer. Hopefully, I try to stay relative that way. A couple weeks ago I was on tour with the Beach Boys who have been around for 50 years which is maybe not the most finger on the pulse thing happening now. But at the same time I did a music video for a band called Low which is a really cool independent Indy band that is about as gritty and raw and fresh as I could do. So I try to do those kinds of things I guess.
Since you started on daytime I wanted to get your take about the recent loss of soaps and what that medium gave you as a young actor?
John Stamos: If it wasn’t for General Hospital I wouldn’t be talking to you on this phone right now. I give a lot of credit to that show. You know it really prepared me. And not even knowing as much – not even forecasting the way television has turned into – Basically nighttime television works about as – not as fast but we have to work so – we have to shoot so much in one day. And I remember doing General Hospital it was 90 pages a day which I had 30 of those sometimes. I learned a tremendous amount. And it wasn’t just a springboard but it was a base of it was acting 101. I mean you really had to come and bring a lot of different emotions and a lot of fast, which really prepared me for television. I think it’s really sad obviously for everything that it did for me — the training, the launch that it gave me. It’s sad to think that there’s not some other guys out there like me that’s going to get a shot on a soap opera. I just saw Demi Moore the other night. We talked about General Hospital for 45 minutes and just raved how much we loved it and good – the good memories we had from it.
Were you a fan of Law & Order Special Victims Unit before appearing on the show?
John Stamos: Well I have to be honest with you, no I hadn’t seen it much. But I’m a fan now.
You had reservations about the role initially, why take chances now at this point in your career?
John Stamos: I could either way. I’m at the place where I’m looking at almost 30 years. Here’s get ready to drop a name. But I was at a party the other night and the great George Clooney came up to me and he said God he said, we’re still around. There’s not many of us that have made it this long. And first of all to beat even in the same category as him which was not very flattering of him to say. But it’s true. For all intents and purposes I should be long gone by now. So I think because I’ve taken some chances or tried to get back to my roots I go to the theater quite a bit or I mean I do theater quite a bit so around. But I think that I could take the easy way out. I could jump on a sitcom tomorrow. And at some point maybe I will again. But I think I’ve got one more fight in me. I think I still have some energy. I still want to get out there and do something that’s challenging and original. I think there’s some incredible writing in television now. Everybody’s going into television. So I feel if I’m patient, I sat out for the pilot season. I just feel if I’m patient I think that’s going to come around for me. And again, I guess to answer your question I feel I have one more fight in me before I just kind of be put out to pasture and maybe go do a – not that there’s anything wrong with it but just jump on a family sitcom again like Full House or something like.
What was it like for you to step into such a long running show and fit in with another established show that you were never a part of before?
John Stamos: It seems like I’ve done that quite a bit over the last few years with ER and I’ve been doing a lot of guest spots Entourage and Glee. So there’s always an extra challenge in it. But the benefit is that the shows are up and going in they’re running well. And there’s not really a lot to learn. I mean of these shows work at a different pace and at different energy. And this particular one, I mean these guys were pros. And again I did some of my favorite work on the show because of how good (Christian Musgar).
What made you want to do this role?
John Stamos: I’ve been caught up the last few years and really trying to please the audience always. And I think some of my most successful stuff was when I was taking chances and when I was fearless. I felt that I had that more when I was younger. I remember leaving Full House and I went into right on to Broadway. And I actually remember doing Cabaret and people were walking out of the theater because they wanted to see Uncle Jesse. And I remember talking to Sam Mendes about I’m doing something wrong. I have to please these people. He said no, you’re doing something right. I mean if you’re really digging in playing the truth of this character. And that’s why roles like this and SVU have scared me over the last few years and I found myself doing some safe stuff. And recently I’ve kind of stopped. I’ve turned down a bunch of roles that I thought people would like to see me in and thought that I should get involved with in television. And I’ve been actually just waiting for role like this to come around. So I jumped at it.
What did you find most challenging about playing the part?
John Stamos: I thought oh I’ve got to play into this guy. I’ve got to be this evil diabolical guy who’s out trying to manipulate women. But I kind of kept it really simple. And I think when you see it you’ll see that I just kind of played the truth of this guy really loving babies at whatever cost. So it was a challenge to not play into the stereo typical things that maybe someone would read into a character like this. I played them very laid back and very confident and very controlled and just kept what I wanted- what he wanted which was to procreate and have as many children as he can because he loved babies, loved himself. So the challenge was to keep it very clean and simple.
What can fans of yours expect from this performance that maybe they haven’t ever seen before?
John Stamos: It really is kind of an interesting casting choice because you kind of buy in to oh it’s me. It’s John Stamos. He’s kind of sweet with the ladies and he’s charming and all of a sudden you find out that he’s really an evil, deceptive man who is just out for very selfish reason and procreating and wanting more of his DNA in the world. It was odd because I when I started playing it I didn’t have to play all that stuff. I didn’t want to get caught up in being this nefarious weird evil man. I sort of just played into really loving children. When his finance finds out that he’s father 20 children in the beginning she looks at him and he says well I told you I love babies. Then at the end you find out that he’s actually fathered 47 children. And he says, I love each and every one of them with all my heart. So as part of it you kind of get bought into, oh that’s John doing that but then it’s really truly the farthest thing that I’ve ever done on television or movies from who I really am.
You are always seen as the funny guy, why this dramatic role?
John Stamos: You were saying what are fans going to see that they’ve never seen me do? There’s quite a dramatic ending to this show that I’ve never seen done ever. The way that it’s not illegal what he’s doing. So somebody kind of takes their own stand and brings me to justice. I will say there’s more blood involved in that scene than I’ve sought ER in four years.
How confident are you as an actor?
John Stamos: I think just working with really good people, really smart people. I think my adult career kind of started on ER where I was kind of thrown in – it sort of felt like the same situation. I was working with fine actors and really good writing, established show. On ER and on SVU, really there were a lot of similarities where you have to rise to the occasion there because they’re bringing their A work. Marsha and Chris were – I did a scene with Chris that was I think one of the favorite scenes I’ve ever done. It was like just playing cat and mouse. And this guy was throwing hard balls at me the whole scene. And I really had to be on my toes. So it did kind of spit me out as a more confident actor I think.
Can speak about your recent appearance on Glee?
John Stamos: I went into that because I love the show and I love Ryan Murphy. And I would’ve been happy with one episode. I got do four I think which is more than most people get to do. So no it was everything that I would want it to. I made great friends. I had a great time. It was challenging too, to dip in again like being put on a show that’s up and running and to be around such talented people. You really have to rise to the occasion. And they do work very fast on that show. That show is a miracle. I watched it before and I’ve been in the middle of it and I still don’t know how they do it. I still don’t understand how they get the quality that they do each week and the messages. It’s an absolute – it’s magical what they do and that show. It’s magic I think. I’m really grateful to be part of it in any one line of four episodes is, it was great.
What’s next for you?
John Stamos: When I started General Hospital and through my earlier career I fearless. And over the years you get so caught up in yourself. And again you become such a celebrity. It’s very difficult to draw the line between celebrity and actor. You get caught up in just Twitter and Facebook and the Internet that what everybody says. And you want to please everybody. And lately it’s funny. You’ll hear my name on TV shows or movie references and I mean so many people come up and say reference about the what was in the stepbrothers. So I really have to pull the brakes back and go whoa, I really have to combat that with taking chances again and being fearless. I really miss that. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now in my career. I’ve turned down a lot of stuff. I’m waiting for something that feels challenging in television. And that’s tough because I haven’t done a lot of it. But right now I’m at that place in my life where I’ve been many times in my career where I’ve no idea what I’m doing tomorrow. And it’s the most frightening and exhilarating moment that I’ve had a long time. So I’m waiting to be scared and challenged and I’m going to jump at the opportunity.
Is there anything that’s off the table for you?
John Stamos: Replacing anyone on a sitcom. Read between those lines.