An encounter with Steven Weber
Renowned ‘Wings,’ ‘The Shining TV Series,’ ‘Chicago Med’ actor
By Freddy Moyano
On Jan. 14 and 15, MLC — a Green Bay-based film production group — hosted an Awards Qualifier Gala in Little Rock, Arkansas. Among the attendees was actor Steven Weber, who joined in the festivities virtually from his home in Los Angeles.
Born in New York City, more specifically in the Briarwood neighborhood that is rooted in the borough of Queens, Weber recalled the stories his dad used to tell him about the Packers.
“The 1920s were different times and my dad would tell me how some football players even smoked cigars by the sidelines. Then of course over the years I admired Lombardi, Ray Nitschke. I grew up watching football games. My dad was a big football fan too. I’ve never visited Green Bay but I love that the club is owned by the people” Weber said.
Weber’s years of acting as a child started to yield dividends when he auditioned for the role of Brian Hackett in NBC’s Wings (1990-1997). Prior to that, he worked Broadway shows and other gigs, “slipping resumes under people’s doors” as he puts it.
Weber defined the role of Brian Hackett as a “womanizer” and especially recalled his times on the show with Green Bay native and fellow actor and friend, Tony Shalhoub.
“Tony’s initial [waiter] role was brilliant. The producers loved him so much that they called him back. His ability to do accents and comedy is what sold them” said Weber, who recalled “marveling by the sidelines” with his co-star, Tim Daly, as to how amazing it was to observe Shalhoub on set performing his scenes.
Weber also appeared alongside Shalhoub in one episode of Monk, playing a Howard Stern-type radio host.
Weber explained Shalhoub was great with staying connected with friends and working with them, as was the case with the popular obsessive compulsive detective series which Shalhoub also produced and cast for.
“It was amazing to see [Tony] run the show as the main mind behind Monk. I could talk about him all day” he said.
Weber also recalled the “great experience” of working with Wings co-star Amy Yasbeck, in Mel Brooks’ Dracula, Dead and Loving It (1995).
Fans of the comedy classic may recall a geyser of blood shooting upwards from the coffin and showering Weber’s character in Dracula.
Weber confirmed it took a full day and four takes to make that scene possible, with “lots of cleaning in between.”
Weber’s own “tango” between comedy and horror in well-known roles became solidified when he booked the role of Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s own The Shining TV series (1997).
“Everyone knowns Kubrick’s version differs from the book. The series was faithful to the book,” he said. “[Stephen King] and I had constant communication during the months it took for the series to wrap. We were, in fact, at the Stanley hotel where a year earlier [King] was inspired by the story” said Weber.
Of King, Weber said he is a “tall man” who had passionate acting in his orchestra role during the TV series. Weber has since collaborated with King’s work by narrating short stories King wrote such as Rat from Simon & Schuster’s If It Bleeds — a collection of short stories.
But Weber said “one of my proudest career milestones” was being the narrator of Stephen King’s IT (2010, Penguin Audio).
“[For IT] I had to do cold reads of many pages. Sometimes the editors found I had to read more consistently some of the areas and I had to start some portions over” Weber said. “This was a 1,200 page novel and narrating has a lot of acting in it. I was happy to hear that the producers who worked on the IT movie remake took his audiobook narration to prepare the show versus solely relying on King’s manuscript”
Weber said some of his roles required him to quickly adapt, especially his role of Dr. Dean Archer on Dick Wolf’s popular series Chicago Med as he stepped onto the show eight episodes into the sixth season.
“Initially, I only signed for 6 or 7 episodes. My character was going to have his own ending. But they changed their mind. It was like hopping on a train in motion, doing my best to adapt to the story with everything my character brought to the table” Weber said of a long-recurring role that is still standing after 38 aired episodes and counting two seasons later.
Advice for actors
When asked about actors seen as celebrities and advice on actors, Weber said “you have to be nice and respectful of who you are working with. It is important to be grounded in what you do.”
“Some people think we live off of limousines and caviar but that’s not the case as we also have dirty gutters to clean at home. I’m 61 years old. This is a profession where I have had moments of plenty and others with hunger. I have lots of dear family members and made friends over the years. I am happy working [Chicago Med]” he added.