'Green Book': Brian Stepanek shares his thoughts on playing 'horrible, evil' Graham Kimbell and loving it
Despite wanting to be a part of 'Green Book' badly, Brian could not go for a callback, because he was 'in bed really, really sick.'
On Friday, November 16, one of the most important films of the year, ‘Green Book’ will be released in the US. Starring Mahershala Ali and Viddo Mortensen, this Odd Couple-esque story depicts the organic friendship that develops between famed black pianist Don Shirley (Ali) and his white chauffer Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga (Mortensen) in the deep South during the 1960s. The heartwarming tale of friendship, however, would be incomplete without a “horrible and evil” personification of the blatant racism prevalent during the era of Jim Crow laws.
This role of the big bad villain is portrayed by the incomparable Brian Stepanek, whom most of us have grown up loving and laughing with. After playing the role of doting father and nurturing teacher, Stepanek is playing someone unbelievably evil and vile in ‘Green Book.’ The actor confided in Meaww that he is quite happy being the bad guy for now, one that seems to be convinced that he is in the right. Stepanek says it feels “fantastic to play this kind of horrible, evil person that doesn't know he is horrible and evil. I think most bad guys don't know that they are bad guys which is what makes it really fun to play.” Moreover, Stepanek’s Graham Kimbell is a pivotal part of this movie, in that he makes Tony Lip reflect on his own worldviews and ideologies from not too long ago.
Stepanek elaborates, “This role actually comes in at the end of the second act, which is where everything kind of comes to a head and I think that the role that Graham plays is he makes [Tony Lip] see his old self in him. He is looking at me thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this is what I was like' and for the first time realizes the error of his ways. He realizes that there is something wrong in the way I see the world and the first time he sees it and realizes it, is when you see a real change happens."
Stepanek reinforces that it is being privy to be a part of such a monumental moment in such an important film that made the role of Graham so special for him. Beyond the appeal of the negative role, it was the brilliant script that attracted Stepanek. “It's very rare to come across a script like that It was something I immediately wanted to be a part of.”
He also reveals that despite desperately wanting to be a part of this project and even taping an audition for it, he was unable to go for the callback audition. “Oddly enough, when I got the call to meet [director] Peter Farrelly for the callback for the film I got the flu. So, I was literally in bed really, really sick and I couldn't go to the callback,” he recalls. However, the filmmakers decided to go by the talent they saw in the tape and presumably everything Stepanek has done over the years and we have the man we will love to hate in ‘Green Book.’
'Green Book’ has had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and since then has won the People's Choice Award there and has been raking in positive reviews from critics. Don’t forget to catch it when it has its limited release Friday, November 16 and the US-wide release on November 21.