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LAist Interview: Austin Nichols, Star of HBO's New Series, John From Cincinnati

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This Sunday, HBO will say goodbye to its biggest hit and hello to what could be another staple for the cable network. Following the long awaited Sopranos finale, David Milch's latest creation, John From Cincinnati, makes it debut. LAist caught up with Austin Nichols (Day After Tomorrow, Wimbledon and Glory Road) who plays the title character to get the scoop on the show.

Sunday’s a big day, got any plans? Having a viewing party at your place?
I actually don't know if I will ever see this program because I do not have HBO. I thought if you were the lead in a show they would actually send someone to your house and hook you up, but I guess not.

I hope this interview helps HBO realize they need to hook you up
Me too.

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I was going to ask you about the relationship that you’ve had with HBO, I thought they’ve been very good to you (Austin has previously appeared in Deadwood and Six Feet Under, both of which are HBO shows and he is one of the few actors to have been signed to a talent holding dealby the cable network)
HBO has been very good to me in so many aspects, but they’ve seemed to overlook this one.

Are those your feet in all the posters around town?
That’s Bruce Greenwood, who plays Mitch Yost’s feet; it could be argued that my character is the reason why his feet are in the air though. But no, those are not my feet.

So what exactly is John from Cincinnati all about?
Everyone has been asking what the show is really about, and that’s the thing about the show, it’s a parallel to real life: how we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 15 minutes, we don’t really know what to expect from the show either. There definitely is sort of an uneasiness about the show.

As far as a synopsis of the show: Yost family is on disabled aircraft heading towards the earth and John, my character, arrives just on time to stop it.

I just heard David Milch say, the show is like what would happen if God wanted to talk to us with relative urgency.

Speaking of David Milch, what's it like working with him?
David is like nobody I have ever seen or worked with before. I have this incredible respect for him and at the same time anger for him. He is so creative and brilliant but also so demanding. I think a good way to describe David would be to call him a "Gentle Dictator" -- he really is both sides of the coin.

What's it like working with Ed O'Neill and Luke Perry, two guys you grew up watching?
I never thought I would be working with either of them. Luis Guzman, who is also on the show is a hero of mine and I am so happy to work with him. He is the man. Ed and I get along particularly well; you put a camera on us and things really work. The show is cast so well. Part of the reason I think David chose Ed and Luke is they are associated with characters they've played, and here they are doing something so far from those characters, not doing what everyone has come to know them as, which fits well with the theme of the show. At the premiere the other night, during Ed's first scene the audience laughed even though it's not a funny scene because they were thinking, "hey its Al Bundy!" but that quickly changed when they saw that it wasn't a funny scene and how great Ed really is. David was genius in his casting, people are going see Ed O'Neill in a very different way.

Is there any pressure in filling in the Sopranos timeslot?
I say bring it on. I am so proud of this show, it doesn't really scare me.

What are you working on next?
This is all I've been working on for over a year, I am really just looking forward to a long vacation. I might look to do a movie in this time off though.

I saw you in crutches last summer, was that from working on the show?
I broke my leg skateboarding while getting ready for the show. I tried to keep it a secret, I told them I twisted my ankle which was a massive lie. I was worried that if I was hurt they would try to get someone else so I just lied. I healed enough in time to shoot the surfing scenes.

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What's the living situation like, I hear you've got kind of an "Entourage" like setup?
I wouldn't call it an entourage. Two buddies of mine have been crashing at my place. It's pretty close quarters, but they are fantastic guys, I'll help as long as I can. I'll be there for them.

How do you feel about all the attention you've been getting in the media lately?
Now the show is starting, there has been a lot of press, and I've been asked those "how has my life changed" sort of questions. But I try not to focus on that, I just focus on the work. John, the character I play, has taught me to focus on the work, all that other shit is part of the work but it has nothing to do with the creative side of the work. I can't say that I love it but it's sort of necessary.

You've been living here in LA for a while now, tell me what are some of your favorite spots in town?
Dominick's is a great spot, I also like the Hungry Cat, Amo, the Bowery. They're really great restarants. Honestly, most nights I just go to Cactus #1 Taqueria, best street tacos in town.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I hope everyone on the planet watches the show and I hope that everyone can take something away from this show, because I know I have.