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Exclusive MONEYBALL and BATTLESHIP Stephen Bishop Interview

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I spoke with STEPHEN BISHOP about his new film MONEYBALL with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill that is premiering this weekend.  Stephen also discussed his roles in the upcoming films Battleship and Safe House.  I even got to talk about a couple of my favorite Stephen Bishop films, The Rundown and Sam’s Lake.   It was fantastic to get a chance to speak with him and make sure you check out Moneyball.  I’m looking forward to it and Battleship with Rihanna is sure to be a huge hit, as well. Fans looking to keep in touch with Stephen can follow him on Twitter (@StephenCBishop).  That is his official account and he interacts with everybody on his page.  He answers all of his tweets personally, so what are you waiting for?

Lena:  I love the pictures of your dog on Twitter.  He’s so cute.  Do you only have one dog?

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, Lucius, that’s my boy.  I have a dog, a cat and a snake.

Lena:  You are starring in several movies that are coming out soon, the first of which is Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  Given your baseball background, you were definitely the perfect pick to play David Justice.  What was your audition like for that role?

Stephen Bishop:  I had a few and the first one was all acting and the second one was mainly acting and the third one was a baseball audition where they wanted to see my baseball ability and see what my movements were like.  That one went pretty well because David and I have such an uncanny resemblance that it is difficult for anybody to see me actually play baseball, in a baseball uniform and not think that, wow, this guy looks just like him.  The auditions were pretty straight forward, the same as any other audition, you deliver your lines and fortunately for me, I had a leg up on people because I knew David already and I have played professionally.  It just seemed like a perfect storm.

Lena:  The film is based on a book of the same name by Michael Lewis.  Were you familiar with the book prior to landing the role?

Stephen Bishop:  Yeah, I was very familiar with it.  I hadn’t read it but I knew about it and I knew the whole Moneyball concept.  I actually grew up from the age of twelve years old until I left to go to Atlanta in the East Bay area about fifteen minutes from Oakland, so I grew up watching the games.  They were huge in my town, so anything having to do with them I was pretty well aware of.

Lena:  Even for someone who isn’t into baseball, the cast alone is enough to sell the film.  You are in it with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip C. Hoffman and so many others, so what was it like working with the cast?

Stephen Bishop:  It was incredible.  Everyone was really cool and Brad is a really super down to earth guy.  He’s obviously a megastar but he’s an everyday guy when you get a chance to sit down and talk to him.  He became one of the guys.  He would come out on the field and take batting practice with us and run around and play catch.  I think he might have been reliving a childhood dream himself on the baseball field.  Jonah was funny and he’s Jonah Hill, he is what you see on the screen.  He’s a funny, funny guy.  Everybody was really cool to work with.  It was a really fun set and we had a really good time.

Lena:  Yes, Jonah Hill looks amazing.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, he’s lost a lot of weight.  It’s amazing to see pictures of him now as opposed to the way he was when we shot Moneyball because he hadn’t started his weight loss, yet.  Man, congratulations to him and I hope that he is able to stay with it because I’m sure he feels a lot better and is healthier.  I’m sure he feels great when he wakes up in the morning.

Lena:  Yes, I interviewed him at Comic-Con and I couldn’t get over how fantastic he looked.  I know it was a lot of hard work on his part.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, a lot of hard work and discipline dieting.

Lena:  I saw the preview for Battleship and the preview for Battleship was better than the movie that I was at the theater to see, Cowboys & Aliens.  Have you seen that movie?

Stephen Bishop:  No, I have not.

Lena:  Don’t waste your time.

Stephen Bishop:  Haha, yeah.  The previews for Battleship are really good.  Peter Berg is a genius.  He’s a guy that has done wonders for my career.  He’s a good friend and when he puts his mind to something, you are going to get a very high quality product.  The effects and the ship and how they are playing in the water just look so real.  I can’t wait to see that.  I think it’s going to be a big movie.

Lena:  Well, the preview looked pretty good, so hopefully that will draw people in.

Lena:  How would you describe the film and your character that you play in Battleship?

Stephen Bishop:  I play Lieutenant Taylor, an officer on deck and he is a lead character and Hopper’s (Taylor Kitsch) right hand man in the time of crisis and he is second in command if he needs to take over.  Without giving too much away, that is about as far as I can go with that.  I’m a Naval Lieutenant and the ship I’m on is the John Paul Jones.  Hooper is Taylor’s character and we come under attack and it is up to us to hold it down and try to save the world.

Lena:  When did you finish filming that movie?

Stephen Bishop:  I finished filming that about a year ago, the end of October to November of 2010.

Lena:  Another great cast with Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson and Rihanna is making her film debut.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes and from what I understand, (Rihanna) did a pretty good job.  I didn’t get a chance to work with her but I did ask about her.  I was wondering the same thing that everyone else was wondering, if she could act and from what I understand she was pretty good.  I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Lena:  She’s a great live performer but that doesn’t always translate because I love Madonna but she can’t act.

Stephen Bishop:  Rihanna just has such a camera presence and the camera loves her.  She is such a beautiful girl and to me camera presence is all about the eyes and when the camera locks in on her eyes, it’s an amazing site.  I think to see her in a rugged role, where she gets to do some kickass things, I think she is going to shine.

Lena:  I definitely think she will.  It’s a shame you didn’t get to work with her.

Stephen Bishop:  Yeah, I know, I thought the same thing.  I was looking forward to getting a chance to work with her and I was told that she was not going to be there and I was a little disappointed.  I can’t lie.

Lena:  Maybe this will get her career going in film and you will be able to work with her in the future.

Stephen Bishop:  Maybe we will get a chance to cross paths again.

Lena:  You are in Safe House with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, which is scheduled to be released early next year.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, I think that is coming out in February.  That was an incredible experience and working with Denzel was a dream come true for me.  He’s an unbelievable actor and being a guy who wants to do what he does and being able to sit there and go up against him one on one, in a scene, is a great barometer of where you are in your career and your progress as an actor in the craft.  South Africa was unbelievable.  I had a great time and I met some really good people.  All around, it was a beautiful experience and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Lena:  The photos that I have seen of South Africa are beautiful.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, it’s amazing and the people there are so nice.  Everybody was so welcoming and when you walk down the street people would say hello and good morning.

Lena:  I loved you in The Rundown with The Rock.

Stephen Bishop:  Oh, thank you, I appreciate that.  It was really fun to shoot that.  That was my first major break.

Lena:  Were you nervous throwing a drink in The Rock’s (Dwayne Johnson) face because who would do that in real life?

Stephen Bishop:  Yeah, I actually was.  The first three or four takes that we did I missed.  I hit him in the shoulder and he took me aside and said, “I really appreciate the respect and everything but I really need you to humiliate me.”  So after I had his permission, I got him right in the middle of the face (laughing).  That was a lot of fun and it was a bit intimidating to have to do that right off the bat.  He made it easy and he’s a great guy.

Lena:  I watched Sam’s Lake the other night.

Stephen Bishop:  Wow, you went way back.  What did you think?

Lena:  It was fun but it was creepy that William Gregory Lee’s character, Jesse had to take his shirt off before he started killing people.  Who came up with that idea?

Stephen Bishop:  Oh, I don’t know (laughing).  I liked the movie and I had a great time shooting that and I was happy with it when I saw it.  It’s campy but it is what it’s supposed to be.  Greg is a friend of mine and we had a great time hanging out while we were shooting that.  I don’t know if it was him or Andrew (C. Erin) that came up with him taking his shirt off but I mean, he did a lot of work to get in that kind of shape, so he could be half naked throughout the movie (laughing).

Lena:  That is what I was thinking, that he was like, look, I’m taking my damn shirt off and that is that (laughing).  It was just so funny.  It looked like it was a fun movie to make.  You did that in Canada, I do believe.

Stephen Bishop:  Yeah, we did that on Vancouver Island.

Lena:  Will you be doing any more horror films?

Stephen Bishop:  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  I won’t rule it out.  If something came along that was interesting, one that was a little more realistic, like a The Silence of the Lambs type of thing.  I’m not a big horror movie guy, as far as a fan of watching them and it seems that the younger actors are doing a lot of the horror movies now.    I think The Silence of the Lambs stuff was incredible.  As far as regular horror films are concerned, who knows what is going to happen with that.  I can’t see it coming but if something good comes along I will definitely take a look at it.

Lena:  Would you want to play a bad guy more than a hero?

Stephen Bishop:  Yeah, I do want to play a bad guy.  I do want to play a villain.  I’ve been looking into some villain characters and talking to some people right now about a part in a film that is actually a villain.  I’ve often wanted to play the villain but the hero always gets the girl and they go off into the sunset, so there is something to be said for that, too.

Lena:  Yeah, but the villains are always so juicy.

Stephen Bishop:  The villains are the ones that really get to sink their teeth into the acting.  They make the choices that really stick with you after you leave the theater.   I don’t think that the villain always needs to be the wild man.  I think Gary Oldman’s villain in The Professional, soft spoken and quiet is what I would like to bring to a character.

Lena:  You’ve done a lot of television work, so do you have anything coming up that you can talk about?

Stephen Bishop:  I’ve been so busy with the prep for Moneyball and doing these other films that I’ve really had a nice little break here.  I worked for almost a good, seven or eight months straight, so I’m going to relax for a minute and just wait and see what happens with this stuff.

Lena:  Moneyball looks like a great movie and I’m not even a sports fan but it looks like something I would be interested in.

Stephen Bishop:  Yes, that’s what I think.  It has something for everybody.    I think that the people who aren’t sports fans are still going to enjoy it because it’s a human story.  It’s something where everybody is affected by this philosophy in one way or another.  Billy Beane’s story was very interesting and I don’t think it’s just a baseball movie.  It’s a story of a man who lived a certain type of life and then went into a profession and tried to change the world, the world that he’s in.  Baseball happens to be a backdrop.  Grab some friends and go out and see the movie and you will enjoy it.

Lena:  Are you working with any charities?

Stephen Bishop:  I’m not attached to any one in particular but I can name a couple of the ones that I work with, Gridiron Heroes is one that I am thinking about working with because I really like what they do and Children’s Trust Fund, out here in Los Angeles County is one that I’ve been working with a little bit lately.  I just did a fundraiser for them and a celebrity golf tournament for them.  I do a lot of charity work but I have yet to attach myself to one in particular.  I will soon because I want to start doing celebrity golf tournaments and Poker tournaments for charity.

David Justice in Moneyball
Moneyball Opens September 23rd in Theaters Everywhere
Battleship Coming to Theaters in 2012
Safe House Coming to Theaters in 2012
September 20, 2011
By Lena Lamoray

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