Young Adult Magazine: How and when did you get into acting?
Steven Kaplan: I started acting when I was seven. My older brother’s girlfriend was involved with a community theater in White Plains called Playgroup Theatre and he wanted to audition to be with her. Like the annoying little brother I was, I wanted to do everything my brother did, so I auditioned as well. After that, I kind of never stopped. Sixteen years later, I’m still at it.
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YA: Where does your inspiration come from?
SK: Ah, an acting question. True inspiration is pretty rare. It can happen on stage in performance, in rehearsal, or off stage at just about any time, and it’s impossible to recreate. I think inspiration comes from a combination of a few things: Good technique, vulnerability, and constant immersion in all things creative. Playing piano is also an indescribable and incredible source of inspiration for me.
YA: Tell us about your breakout role in Bart Got a Room, and what was it like working with the famous William H. Macy?
SK: I played the leading role of Danny Stein in brilliant writer/director Brian Hecker’s 2008 Tribeca Film Festival hit Bart Got a Room. It was my first time acting in a feature film and I couldn’t wait to be on set. I actually got the call from my agent on my birthday – best birthday present to date.
Working with Bill was one of the highlights of my experience. He’s a theater guy, and with that comes a unique sensibility both on and off set. He’s a smart actor, you know? Always making specific character choices, big or subtle, to help tell the story a little better. The thing that stood out most to me was his generosity as an actor. You hear horror stories about movie stars treating their cast and crew poorly and I was unsure of what to expect. Bill stood in on every single shot and gave me a sincere and committed performance every time, whether the camera was on him or not. It made my job easier and my performance stronger. I am forever grateful.
YA: Beware the Gonzo looked like it was a lot of fun to film. Did you and the cast party a lot?
SK: You are very right, it was very fun to shoot. Though the AC was broken in the school we were shooting at. Mid-summer. But that aside it was great working with so many young New York actors. As for partying, things got a little rowdy at the wrap party, but aside from that everyone was very well behaved…
YA: If you were able to go back in time and choose any role for yourself which role would that be?
SK: Eugene Morris Jerome in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. I’m afraid the window has closed on this one. Sadly, I don’t think I can play 15 anymore.
YA: We just saw you guessed role on the hit show Smash. What’s up next?
SK: Nothing definite is on tap next, but things are always in the mix. I’m currently doing a reading of #Regan Cross by Catherine Cusick. It’s a wonderfully written play, keep an eye out. I’m also working on a few music projects at the moment. I’m finishing up recording keyboard parts on my brother Michael’s prog album with guitarist Michael Romeo (http://flaudlogic.com/), and I’m working on a solo project with my writing partner. I write, play piano and sing. I hope to be playing our stuff out this summer in NYC.
YA: You know, Selena Gomez is planning to star in Jay Asher’s book 13 Reasons Why. When we found out that you did the audio for his new hit The Future of Us, we wanted to get insight into the process. What that was like?
SK: Recording books on tape is very different than any other medium in the acting world. I was shocked at how difficult it was to fully express myself through my voice alone. I wasn’t even allowed to move my arms! The sensitive mic would pick up the tiniest sounds. It was a fun challenge though. At the heart of all good acting is good story telling, and audio books are a very pure version of this. Recording books on tape also makes me think about my childhood. My Dad used to make up the most hilariously brilliant and elaborate bedtime stories when my siblings and I were little, and I found myself incorporating some of his style into my work.
YA: And do you have a favorite book and why, or what book are you now reading?
SK: My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the first book I read when I was younger whose moral message really challenged the way I think. To me that’s the best part about reading. It’s like having a private conversation with someone who’s really passionate about an issue and has something really important to say. Currently, I’m reading Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra. It’s a little close to the self-help aisle, but I’m a big fan of Deepak’s meditations and I’ve never read any of his books.