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BSV: Before we begin, how have you been navigating the past year of the pandemic?
EP: I definitely consider myself one of the extremely fortunate ones. Nobody in my immediate family has gotten terribly sick. It's been a big jumble of emotions but most of all, I just feel really blessed and lucky to have stayed healthy and gotten to work. We went to Boston to film the whole first season of Kevin Can Fuck Himself during the pandemic.
BSV: Vanity Fair has described Kevin Can F*** Himself as a "metadrama, which aims to shatter television's happy family history." It sounds like a powerful yet risky concept. What did you think when you first read the script?
EP: When I heard there was this new show with an obviously attention-grabbing title, and the idea was to subvert the classic sitcom, that was really exciting to me. We're not destroying the classic sitcom; we're just trying to look at it from a new light.
Half of the show is a really good multi-cam but whenever Allison [played by Annie Murphy] leaves the presence of myself or the other guys on the show, it goes into the single-cam realness. That's where we see the impact and repercussions from the jokes in the multi-cam world. The single-cam really shows Allison when there's not a bunch of people watching and she doesn't have to perform for them. It's the truth of her honest life living with a guy like Kevin as her husband.
BSV: There's been a lot of comparison to Kevin Can Wait, a sitcom on which the lead character's wife is killed off. Do we have to worry about you suffering a similar fate on Kevin Can F*** Himself?
EP: I think you just have to watch to find that out. But it is true; when Valerie originally wrote the script, she was writing it in response to [Kevin Can Wait] firing Erinn Hayes, who is a great actress. I was actually doing a reading of a new musical with Erinn when I got cast as Kevin; it was sort of a weird moment in life that put us in the same spot. Kevin Can Fuck Himself is not a direct attack on that particular show or situation. That was just an initial jumping off point for Valerie's storytelling.
BSV: How did you glean inspiration for your character? You two seem very different.
EP: He is very different from me in that he's much more boorish, uninformed and much less emotionally intelligent. Two particular characters that were the most solid foundation of what I was creating him from would be Ralph Kramden, from The Honeymooners, and then a little bit of Peter Griffin from Family Guy.
BSV: As a Canadian, I have to ask what it was like working with our beloved Annie Murphy?
EP: Well, she is a spectacular representation of Canada. She is so perfectly Canadian, in that she is super polite, super prepared, just joy all the time. It was so fun working with her. When I found out that she had been cast, I was so excited because my wife and I were in the middle of season three of Schitt's Creek--we were doing a binge of the show. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, she's so great, she's so funny.' And then she just lived up to it tenfold. We had a great time doing this show together.
BSV: You were born in Carol Stream, Illinois, and studied Acting at Bradley University. When did you realize that you wanted to become an actor?
EP: I was always the class clown and when I was younger, I got teased a lot. Most people who get picked on find some sort of defense mechanism. For me, it was comedy -- making jokes and making people laugh.
It was probably sometime in high school when I started doing theatre and started to get cast as the lead in a lot of plays. Up to that point, I had always wanted to be a cartoonist, so it was kind of a big life shift for me to actually try to be an actor.
BSV: What was your first professional role out of college?
EP: I got a job working at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan. It's one of the oldest summer stock theatres in the country; they're celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. It was my first summer out of school. I met my wife that summer; we were both apprentices, and then we both moved to New York, and our careers kind of progressed from there.
BSV: What has been your favourite performance to date?
EP: I played Shrek in the first National Tour of Shrek The Musical. That was a really glorious time in my life. My daughter had just been born, and I loved playing Shrek. I loved the process of putting on all the makeup and the fat suit. The show was so great. I will say I've really loved doing this latest project; Kevin Can Fuck Himself has really been a highlight of my life so far.
BSV: What can we expect on June 13th for the online premiere of Kevin Can F*** Himself?
EP: People can expect a show that will make them think, that will start conversations, that will make them laugh. They will hopefully find characters they empathize with deeply, and some characters they want to grab by the shoulders and shake a little. People will see a fresh perspective to situations and characters that they feel like they know, but will see in a whole new light with our show.
Interview Recorded: 2019 | Updated: 2022
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