Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Q & A with Runt of the Litter star Bo Eason

Bo Eason, a former NFL player turned actor/writer performs his one-man play Runt of the Litter at the State Theatre March 2011. Recently, Bo took some time to talk to us about his upcoming show, how he made the move from the NFL to theater, and his big plans for bringing Runt of the Litter to the silver screen.

Q: How were you received by your fans, as well as your peers, when you made the transition from the NFL to acting/writing?
A: What’s funny about this, is that I’ve always kept one eye on drama. When I was in high school, I was taking acting classes and none of my football teammates ever knew. Then, in college I minored in drama, and still none of my teammates knew. So, in 1989 when I retired from the NFL, I moved to New York City and I did play after play. I was afraid they would make fun. I remember my first play was a children’s play in which I was the mayor of this elf town and my brother (Tony Eason) who was the quarterback of the New England Patriots at the time and my friend Kenny O’Brien who was the quarterback of the Jets, came to see me. After the play, they came up to me and said “six months ago, you were playing football and signing autographs for fans and now you’re in a top hat and performing in front of a bunch of kids who aren’t paying attention.” From that point on I knew I had to start from the bottom. So, when Runt premiered in Houston, where I used to play, it was great to hear my former teammates say “that’s so cool Bo,” or “Bo, I didn’t know you liked that, man, I wish I would have done that.” So, acting was a secret all my life but now everyone was rallying around it and it was a great feeling.

Q: How much of the show is autobiographical?
A: Most of it is based on the truth, and the story of my brother and I. However, there is a segment in the play that is not true but I thought it would be an interesting concept to explore and it has to do with two brothers meeting face to face.

Q: What would you say is more challenging, football or acting? Do you find they have similar challenges or are they complete opposites?
A: A lot, a lot of training for both. Twenty years of training for football and 20 years of training for acting. And in stage acting, the preparation is the same as football, you have to learn all the elements to do it well and it takes years and years. The training for being a safety in football is so specific, running forward and sideways and backwards, and the same goes for acting but they both involve body, movement, and structure.

Q: In terms of preparation, rehearsing, practicing, etc, what goes into preparing for a game versus preparing for a show?
A: There was this one sensation that happened to me before a game, where I would be in tunnel, in the dark and I would hear the music and the announcer start introducing the players and I would just think, ‘what if I just turned around and ran out of the stadium and drove off in my car.’ And the same happens before a show, I am sitting backstage, in the dark, and I think ‘what if I just turned around and ran out the back door.’ But there is something that always makes me take that step. And I love overcoming it, I love overcoming my fears, whether it is playing an NFL game or performing on Broadway.

Q: We hear that you have written a screen play based on the show and that it will soon be a major motion picture. Can you tell us a little about that and how far along that is? Is there a director or have any actors been cast yet?
A: A couple of years ago, Frank Darabont (the director of the Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile) came to see Runt in Santa Monica in a little theater with about 30 people. And after the show, he came up to me and said ‘Bo, I think this would be a great movie, and I think you should be the one to write the screenplay.’ And I thought, I don’t know the first thing about writing a screenplay. So, together Frank and I pitched Castlerock and they bought the rights and I went on to write the screenplay with Frank kind of looking over my shoulder. Frank is a multi-Academy Award nominated writer, so it was like I was in Grad school and Frank was the teacher. And after a few years, I ended up taking the movie rights back and I just finished rewriting the screenplay. We are hoping to start filming next year, late spring or early summer. There have been a few directors who have show interest including Rob Reiner, DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye), and John Lee Hancock (The Blindside). The actors interested have ranged from Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and James Franco to Nicholas Cage, Ryan Phillipe, and Orlando Bloom. All of whom have either asked to be in the movie or if I could write them a movie with roles like that. So, a lot of people have circled around the movie because of the play.

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