In conjunction with our 2007 Fall TV Guide, BuddyTV will be publishing exclusive interviews with the stars of some of the hottest new shows this fall throughout the week. Check back all this week for interviews with the actors and actresses of the new shows.
started his acting career playing the Artful Dodger in his 4th grade production of “Oliver!" Since then, he has acted in the Broadway play "Twentieth Century," starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche and directed by Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie. Bill has also appeared in several Off-Broadway and regional theater productions as well as starring in the indie film, “The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell.”
Currently, Bill is appearing in the new ABC comedy Cavemen
, as the sophisticated and articulate man who also happens to be a caveman. Bill spoke to BuddyTV about getting the part on his new show, his daily makeup regimen, and his acting career so far. Below you will find the transcript as well as the mp3 audio file of the interview.
Hi, this is Debbie from Buddy TV, and I'm talking today with Bill English, the star of the new ABC comedy Cavemen. Hi, Bill.
Hello, how are you doing?
Good, thanks. So I think probably everyone's familiar with the Cavemen guys by now, but just in case, can you tell us a little bit about the Cavemen and the origins of it?
Sure. Well I mean the first time I heard about it, I was watching all the Geico Cavemen commercials, the commercial spots that came out a couple of years ago, or started coming out a few years ago. And just basically the premise of the whole show came out of the need, or the writers felt that they needed to expand a little bit, these characters that they had developed for the commercials.
They said that basically they had these great commercial spots, little 30-second spots, but they thought there was a lot more to these characters. And possibly for more comedy to come out of it, so I guess after a lot of deliberation, they got some people together and started writing up a few treatments for a pilot.
After they went through the whole pilot process, and writing and coming up with ideas for these characters, that's when I got involved during the casting process. Worked my way through the whole reading roles, auditioning. I did my initial audition, and then for the screen test they actually put us in the full caveman makeup, which was pretty wild. Like after about six in the morning, there's about two and a half hours of makeup just for the audition.
And then I went back in after the weekend for another screen test the following Monday, and I was at a six- or seven-hour audition. Once they got in all the makeup, and there's a whole hallway full of guys auditioning. It's just kind of wild to see a bunch of cavemen walking around, and then I found out that night that I'd booked the part. That kind of brings me, you know, that brought me right up to date.
As far as getting into the pilot, we shot the pilot episode, it all happened pretty fast. And then after we shot the pilot, we got the word from ABC that we were picked up for the fall schedule. It wasn't that much longer, maybe a month later, that we started shooting the first episode. Actually they did some retooling of the pilot, and there's now a new episode that we just shot a couple of weeks ago, that's gonna be the actual premiere episode. October 2nd, at eight o' clock Tuesday, on ABC.
Great. So I've seen the pilot, I'm not sure which version of it I saw, but there's a lot of comedy and satire involved in it. You know, the cavemen are stereotyped as cavemen pretty much. But can you just describe what the characters are like?
Sure, yeah. There's three main cavemen, and I play Joel, who's the more kind of buttoned-up conservative type of caveman. I'm kind of a fancy-pants Brooks Brothers shirts, and I'm kind of a breadwinner I guess for the group. We live in an apartment in San Diego and I work at a furniture store, and I'm still optimistic about cavemen.
Like when I think about the possibilities and the prospects of cavemen in this society we're living in, I still feel confident that we've got a shot at equal footing like everybody else. And my roommate Nick, played by Nick Kroll, is a little more skeptical as far as how cavemen are gonna be accepted and received in society. He's really, he takes a much more kind of sarcastic, jaded approach to cavemen and society.
And then there's my younger brother Andy, that's played by Sam Huntington, who is really, he's just along for the ride pretty much. He's sweet, naïve and just a very happy-go-lucky kind of character. Also I have my girlfriend who I'm dating in the show, who is a homo sapien girl. Beautiful blonde girl, and in the cavemen society they're called sapes, short for homo sapien. So I'm dating a sape, and Nick isn't too keen on that.
He kind of looks down on it, and he doesn't have any, you know, he freely kind of digs me on the fact that I'm dating a sape instead of a cave girl. And then that girl, her character's name is Kate, that's played by Kaitlin Doubleday. Her best friend on the show is a girl, the character is Thorne, who is played by Stephanie Lemelin.
Kate's mother is played by Julie White, who is the owner of the complex where we live, in San Diego in the show. And so it truly, I think they really wanted a show just run the gamut, as far as the different character types. We have a lot to play off of, and so far we really have.
Cool, what kind of storylines can viewers expect to see this year?
Well the cool thing about it is, you can really put these characters just about anywhere, it doesn't matter what place it is. It's kind of like fish out of water type thing, you can put these guys in a grocery store, or over at the beach, or pretty much anywhere you want to put them. And they would stick out just 'cause based on how they look, and I think it's, some of the storylines we've developed so far I can't really talk that much about it.
But it kind of develops the different relationships between my character and the two other cavemen characters, as far as each of us has their own views, as far as how cavemen should be portrayed in society. And just the relationship between me and my girlfriend, how that affects my relationship with me and my best friend, and my brother. Just kind of, I think the comedy really comes out of just the situations they put us in.
You know it's obviously miscommunication, and kind of certain people have certain views. They think cavemen are only gonna eat raw meat, and hitting girls over the head and dragging them around, and we're really there to show that's really not the case. We're much more sophisticated than that.
You said earlier that it took two and a half hours of makeup just for the auditions, so you have to do that all the time when you're shooting?
Yeah, and for the actual series, now it's a little more like three and a half hours. Much more precise makeup than what they did for the auditions. But yeah, we did it pretty early in the morning, four o' clock, five o' clock in the morning. For about three and a half hours of makeup every morning, and it's the coolest. I mean, I've never experienced anything like this before, as far as going into…
You walk into the trailer, and you pretty much look at yourself in the mirror and say, “OK, I'm not going to see this face for another 18 hours or so until I get out of the makeup.” And the guys that do the makeup are just incredible, they're the best in the business. I mean the transformation is pretty cool, to see it happen everyday.
Not that having glue and hair and the silicone mask bases and poked and prodded all day is really all that great. But in the end what fits on, and you can really… I mean, the acting part of it becomes a lot easier, because you really don't have to act that much. It's pretty incredible, the way that the mask really helps to bring out the characters.
Do you guys do any pranks on each other? I mean like with makeup on, it looks kind of fun. You know, like behind the scenes?
Yeah, when they were doing a lot of promo stuff for the show a couple of weeks ago, they put us in a car. And we were going from the studio over to the Beverly Hills Hilton for different interviews, and stuff like that for ABC affiliates. We were actually riding in the car, and we pulled up to a stoplight. We were just up to Beverly Hills, and there's a car right next to us.
So I just rolled down the window and I said, “Excuse me, is this the way to Beverly Hills, up this straight here?” And the guy looked right at me and he was, “Oh hello, caveman. Yeah, you just keep going straight, you'll run right into Beverly Hills.” Just completely unfazed, didn't even blink, and he just kept driving.
Trying to play pranks on people in L.A., it just doesn't work. But a lot of times, we'll go out for lunch or something like that, we'll walk off the lot. We'll get a few looks from different people, and honks from horns and things like that, but so far it's been pretty tame.
Did you audition for the part on the Geico commercial? I know you've done some commercial work too.
Right, yeah. I've done a lot of commercial work, but I hadn't been involved at all with any of the Geico spots. None of us were, none of the three cavemen were. But one of the guys, I think the most recognizable caveman from the commercial, Jeff Phillips. He plays a supporting character of the series, he plays a character named Maurice, who's one of our good friends.
He's the guy on the moving walkway, he's the guy in the restaurant who loses his appetite, he's the guy in the CNN, like the mock CNN interview spots. And he's the guy that's kind of been the face of that campaign for a long time, but we get to work with him and he gets to work with us. It's really cool to have him on site, 'cause all these questions that we've all had about it, he can answer.
The overwhelming response I guess to the commercials, and he's been right at the center of it. Yeah, it's kind of cool 'cause it's like a built-in fan base, but that kind of really ups the ante for us. But you know at the same time, people are gonna realize that this show is not a commercial at all. It has nothing to do with Geico, they have no creative control or anything. It's just these characters that they had created, that the ad company had created.
And this guy Joe Lawson, he's an ad genius, he's one of the executive producers and head writers for the series. So he's the guy that created the Geico cavemen, and he's the guy that's really the creative force behind this series as well. And along with Will Speck and Josh Gordon, who are the directors who did all the Geico spots,
And they did Blades of Glory, and they're directing a bunch of the episodes for the series as well. So they pulled the characters from the commercials and said, “These are, it's just a funny idea, it's just a funny concept to kind of put these guys in any number of situations and see what happens.” And that's what we're trying to do now.
And about your career, you've done a lot of theater before, but Cavemen is probably your first big TV role. How do you feel about that, are you excited?
Oh yeah, I'm psyched. It's great, I was in New York for about five and a half years doing a lot of theater. Broadway stuff and regional stuff, off-Broadway, a bunch of commercials. I knew I wanted to do more film and TV, and I did a film a few years ago, we shot a few years ago called The Beach Party of the Threshold of Hell that got distribution through National Lampoon.
The more time I spent on a film set, I realized it was something that I really wanted to do, and I was really interested in. I spent a lot of time in New York in the theater, and not that I've gotten that out of my system or anything like that, but I knew that I wanted to. I had the opportunity to get out and stretch my legs a little bit in L.A., and see what the other side of the industry was like out here.
I was really fortunate, I just came out and everything happened pretty quickly. About six months from the time that I got here, until I landed the role. Which is, you know, I try not to tell too many people. The actors, they might get angry at me, 'cause a lot of people were out here for much longer than that. But things just fell into place, and it's been great. It's been fun, I'm having a blast.
Great, well congratulations.
Thank you so much. Yeah, it's been really fun with the whole cast, and everybody's just been… Yeah, it sounds cliché, but everybody's really fun to work with. I'm still just going to work everyday, trying not to let it pass me by, you know what I mean? And just have a good time every time I show up to work.
Check out our exclusive interviews with other stars of the new Fall 2007 TV season:
Tawny Cypress, from K-Ville
Jerry Minor, from Carpoolers
Joshua Malina, from Big Shots
Crystal Lowe, from Bionic Woman
Oscar Torres, from Cane
-Interview conducted by Debbie Chang
(Image courtesy of ABC)