Rick Yaeger: Today’s guest is Todd Stashwick, who you’ve seen in “The Originals,” “Supernatural,” and “The Riches.” I’m going to add him to my growing collection of “Heroes” alumni because, as Eli the Amazing Replicating Man, he counts for at least four. [laughs]
Hey, Todd, how’s it going?
Todd Stashwick: I’m really good. Thanks.
Rick: Let’s catch the people up on what you’ve been doing. I mentioned “The Originals.” What’s that about?
Todd: It is a show on the CW, which is a spin-off of “The Vampire Diaries.” It’s a gangster show, essentially, because it’s about powerful, old families vying for control of a city, using coercion, sex, and violence to gain that control. It really has the structure and the tropes of a gangster show except that the old families happen to be witches, and werewolves, and vampires.
And I play a priest named Father Kieran, who is kind of…If this was the Godfather, I would be the Robert Duvall character, the guy who kind of drifts between the factions, and is there for his own gain, not necessarily siding with one or the other.
Rick: It’s not necessarily a good guy or a bad guy.
Todd: It’s hard to say when…if your protagonists are vampires. What’s a good guy?
Rick: [laughs] It’s kind of the age we are living in, with television. Everyone is an anti-hero.
Todd: Yeah. The march of the anti-hero.
Rick: Getting into that, I also wanted to talk to you a bit about your webcomic.
Todd: Speaking of anti-heroes?
Rick: Exactly, so Devil Inside, you get that from toddstashwick.com which will appear here abouts. Tell us a bit about that as well.
Todd: It is a webcomic that myself and my collaborator, Dennis Calero, have. We started it in 2010 so, it’s heading into its fourth year. We started it on…we launched it for comic con 2010 and it was based on an idea that I had about the devil, having a crisis of conscience, and going on the lam in the Nevada desert. He’s on the run. It’s “Breaking Good” is our joke.
Rick: [laughs] OK.
Todd: He’s just an overworked man who’s just trying to change his life, but it leaves a vacancy that’s a very volatile vacancy to leave. There’s people that aren’t happy. He has a companion. I’m a huge “Dr. Who” fan, so I just kind of crammed a lot of my influences into one place and then just play in that sandbox.
The idea came from the idea that I tend to die a lot on television, playing villains often. I’ll often meet an untimely demise. I was like, “I’d love to do something where I don’t get killed at the end.” I just started musing on this idea. I enjoy genre. I enjoy horror and supernatural stories. I’m a huge “Vertigo“, Neil Gaiman fan.
Todd: When I put it all in the hopper, this story came out. We write a page a week, or half a page, really. Five to six panels once a week. We put it up free online. We’ve been running it there since 2010.
We’ve collected the first two arcs of story into printed copies that we sell at Comic Con and we sell online.
Todd: It’s been amazing because it’s opened doors in other areas. We had it optioned by Universal and we were taking it around as a tv show. That rolled into a development deal that we had with the Sci Fi Channel. We created an outer space show that we developed over a year and a half. We’re still waiting to hear on that.
As I say, it’s like the Grand Canyon was formed by just single drops of water…
Todd: …in one space over and over and over again. So we kind of wrote this thing and just put it out there as a labor of love for the last, almost going on four years. It’s bearing fruit and has a really nice fan-following. We’re really proud of it.
Rick: You mentioned Comic Cons. You go there to present “Devil Inside”.
Rick: You’re a face people will recognize.
Todd: Sort of. I have this face. “Uh…”
Rick: Exactly. I mentioned this before on the show, “That Guy… Who Was in That Thing.” It’s a documentary about character actors, and you are one of those people. “Where do I know him from?”
Todd: Mostly it’s because I have not been on one thing for more than a season and a half. “The Riches” was canceled after half of Season Two. I think you get that people understand where you’re from if you’re there once a week, every week for years.
Especially if that show is a big fat hit like “Walking Dead” or “Breaking Bad,” people would know. I think the cult status that “The Riches” had, and that it was a short-lived show. I’ve done 19 television pilots, and that is the only one that was picked up to series. That only lasted a season and a half.
So much of my bread and butter is jumping from job to job to job. When someone recognizes me, they may not remember what it’s from. And I certainly won’t know what their viewing taste is. When somebody says, “What do I know you from?”
I have to start interviewing them as to what they watch. It’s a very fascinating process tango that I go…I’m grateful that people recognize my work, and it often starts a nice conversation because you get to know a little bit about a person when you find out about their viewing habits.
Rick: Right. And it’s kind of the flip-side of what some extremely lucky actors go through, which is they know exactly who you are and they won’t let go of it.
Todd: Yeah. It’s hard to break them out of being known for that one thing. I will say I’m mostly known for genre stuff.
Rick: So people will know you for “Supernatural.”
Rick: One episode.
Todd: It’s not like those shows have conventions.
Todd: The funny part is, I sit with Dennis Calero, who’s my collaborator. We sit in Artists’ Alley. When I’m at Comic Con, it’s not there for TV. I’m there because I write a comic. So often, you’ll get people walking by, just browsing the artists’ work, then they’ll stop and have that moment.
Or we’ll be talking to them, and then they’ll suddenly go, “Oh, you’re the guy from ‘Heroes.'” So you have that bit of “Why are you here?” Here’s one story. I was in Chicago — because I’m from Chicago — and I was at a shopping mall, and I’m standing in line paying for something at Christmastime.
This woman looks at me and she goes, “Oh, you sound like that actor.” I go, “That’s funny because that’s what I am.” She goes, “What have you been on? What’s your name?” I go, “It’s Todd Stashwick.” She goes, “No…What have you been on?”
I go, “Well, I was on this show, and then I did this, and then I just did an episode of ‘Revolution.'” She goes, “‘Revolution.’ Yeah.” I go, “So Todd Stashwick.” “No.” Even when presented with the evidence, she still didn’t make the connection. That’s OK. I don’t expect people to recognize me. It’s not why I do it.
Rick: Not fully, anyway. Just enough to go, “I know you. Where do I know you?”
Todd: “He’s probably the father of a kid at my kid’s school.” They give the look like, “I should know who you are.” Which is fine. Nobody’s going through my garbage.
Rick: That’s true. You say you play a lot of heavies, you die horrible deaths, but you got your start at Second City. You talk about Chicago, I mean…
Todd: Second City is an improvisational comedy, satirical review theater out of Chicago.
Todd: It has been there for over 50 years. They do sketch comedy and improvisation, often social political satire.
Rick: You started there and went on to break Greg Grunberg‘s knees?
Todd: Yes, [laughter] at some point, it’s weird because I’ve been very blessed to have my feet firmly planted in both comedy and drama like half of my resume is “Dharma and Greg” and “Will and Grace” and “The Exes” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and a lot of comedy and then the other half is, you know, breaking Greg’s legs.
Rick: Yes. [laughter]
Todd: Take a bullet in the head. I either wind up dead or cuffed.
Rick: Taken away in disgrace with a coat over your head. [laughter] Before we get to the one question, I’m going to ask you what’s over your shoulder there? “The Doubtful Guests?”
Todd: Yes, one of improvised shows that I do. The idea is four people that were killed in a brothel fire in 1888 London and our souls have been damned to do an improvised show. There’s this sort of theatrical back story that holds up the show, and then it goes from there. It’s this kind of macabre cabaret. These twisted little morality tales, horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe-ish, musical things.
There are clips from it online. We’ve been doing the show for 12, going on 13 years, and we just last summer took it to the Out of Bounds comedy festival in Austin and played at a really big theater space called The State and it was really fun. It’s just a chance, on my downtime, I crawl into dark little theaters and do these strange little shows.
Rick: So cool.
Rick: As you know, the show is called “One Question Interviews.”
Rick: I have almost 1,000 different questions ranging from the profane to the profound. I’ve got a handful of them that I’ve chosen at random and I’ll chose a single one at random and you’ll answer it seriously or in a funny voice. Totally your call. We’ll just riffle down the side, you tell me to stop any old time.
Rick: What do we have? Todd Stashwick?
Rick: Your question is, what kinds of things do you hope you will still be doing when you’re 85?
Rick: Keep in mind my mom watches the show.
Rick: Try to keep it clean. [laughter]
Todd: One of them rhymes with trucking.
Rick: OK. [laughter]
Todd: I hope I’m still surfing.
Todd: Yea and drawing and acting and trucking and…
Rick: [laughter] I heard a rumor that you play the ukulele as well?
Todd: A little bit. I’m not amazing but I noodle on it. I can go grab it if you’d like.
Rick: There it is.
Todd: There it is. [music] All right, let’s see. What should we hear?
Rick: Freebird. [laughter]
Todd: I don’t know Freebird.
Well, you’ve done done me
You bet I felt it.
You tried to be chill.
But you’re so hot that I melted.
I fell right through the cracks.
But I’m trying to get back.
Before the cool dawn run out and be givin’ it my bestest.
Nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.
Reckon, it’s again my turn.
To win some or learn some.
But I won’t hesitate.
No more, no more.
This is our fate.
I’m sure there’s no need to complicate.
Our time is short.
This is our fate.
There’s a little something.
Rick: Very cool. The musical answer.
Todd: I hope I’m doing that, better than I just did, when I’m 85.
Rick: You’re doing it pretty good. [laughter] That’s definitely making the cut. That’s an awesome answer, an awesome musical answer. Thanks, Todd.
Rick: It’s been amazing talking to you and chatting. Thanks so much for doing this.
Todd: My pleasure.
Rick: Everyone check out Todd Stashwick in “The Originals.”
Todd: Please do.
Rick: And “Jane Got a Gun” later this year.
Todd: Yes, I play a nasty man in that.
Todd: Right now, I’m currently working on the Uncharted title for the Playstation 4.
Rick: Oh cool.
Todd: I’m acting, mo capping in that video game.
Rick: Wow. That’s cool.
Todd: Super fun.
Rick: Also check out, “Heroes”, “The Riches”, “Supernatural”, they’re all on Netflix.
Rick: You can check out some of Todd’s work like right now.
Rick: You can also go right to Toddstashwick.com and check out “Devil Inside.” There’s like three chapters up there, isn’t there?
Todd: Yes, we almost done with chapter three but all three chapters are up there for your viewing pleasure and then you can also order the books there if you’d like to have a printed copy with bonus material.
Rick: Very cool. Follow Todd on Twitter, @toddstashwick. He’s not verified but I am verifying you right now. I’m verifying you by video.
Todd: I don’t even know that means. What does that mean?
Rick: Well, your profile links to your actual website and you reference videos and photographs and various things that can only come from the real Todd Stashwick.
Rick: So, that verifies you enough but just in case, you’re verified by One Question Interviews. You’re right there on the screen.
Rick: There’s your thing right there. Speaking of links in the lower third, any of those things that have appeared in the lower thirds are available at onequestioninterviews.com for easy clicking where I’ll have transcripts of this interview along with many others for you to check out.
Rick: Hey everybody, I’m Rick Yaeger. Thanks so much for watching the show and subscribe to it in the iTunes podcast directory so you don’t miss out on the next one.
Todd: No. I mean, don’t miss out.
Rick: [laughs] OK. Don’t miss out. Because I want to see you next time. Bye bye.