first_img View Comments Over the last six years, you’ve starred in four Broadway shows. That’s a great track record! Holy sh*t, I had no idea! That’s really cool. It always feels like such a long shot. Putting together a musical is just so tough, so it’s not something that I ever count on happening. You just try to pick material that you love with people you admire and hope for the best. I feel like I really lucked out. Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 24, 2015 Have you ever traveled any cool places by boat? When I was growing up, there was a period of time when my dad was obsessed with the idea of becoming a sailor and retiring to a sailboat, so we took this incredible trip through the Greek Islands for six weeks on a 40-foot sailboat. The memories I have from that experience are some of the best that I have. But I grew up in Jersey, which is very far from Wallsend. [Laughs.] See Michael Esper in The Last Ship at the Neil Simon Theatre. Did you watch the American Idiot documentary, Broadway Idiot? Was your experience in the musical accurately portrayed? I haven’t seen it. I’ve been scared to see it, honestly. Emotionally, I feel like I’d just be a mess. Knowing Doug [Hamilton, director], I just know he did a beautiful job. He’s so extraordinary and he was with us the entire time. I can’t imagine it’s anything less than wonderful. You’ve got a ton of rock star friends these days! Green Day, Sting… It’s surreal, but they also just happen to be not just these rock stars, but they’re just wonderful people. Sting’s a very sensitive and loving person, and Billie Joe and [his wife] Adrienne and the Green Day guys are also incredible and were so beautiful to us throughout that whole process. I’ll be indebted to them forever. Gideon is part lover, part fighter. Which one are you? Oh, God. There’s a constant pendulum swing between those two things. Trying to find the balance between those things is a lifelong struggle. And it’s been an interesting struggle in terms of finding the balance between Gideon’s love and his need and his vulnerability and his anger. The fighter in him is an interesting thing to play with—I studied boxing for six months downtown. What about The Last Ship initially grabbed you? There’s something visceral that happens when I first encounter material. It isn’t much about intellectual judgment. I’ll be reading a piece and somewhere along the line something catches. That’s always a good sign, and I definitely felt that. Even though the world is very different from mine, there’s something about The Last Ship that instantly cut me to the quick. Related Shows Sting is stepping into the show on December 9—how thrilling is that? I’m really excited he’s joining us, I think he’s gonna be amazing. He’s unbelievable! The whole show is born out of his heart and his voice and to hear him inhabit those songs and those scenes will be thrilling for all of us. It’ll be an honor to be onstage with him. I’m going to miss Jimmy [Nail, who will take a hiatus from the production] terribly, but he’ll be back. Grab Michael Esper’s cell phone and you’ll find several Grammy-winning rock stars in his contacts list. After playing Will in the hit Green Day musical American Idiot, he sailed back to Broadway in The Last Ship this fall, written and conceived by Sting, who will step into the production beginning December 9. In The Last Ship, Esper plays Gideon, a troubled man who returns home to a northeast England shipbuilding town for the first time in 15 years. When he’s not on the Ship, Esper also has a regular gig playing Gabe, Jackie’s (Edie Falco) drug dealer on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. chatted with Esper about getting to share the stage with Sting, his newfound love of boxing and the time he went on a six-week boating adventure. Your parents, William and Suzanne Esper, are renowned acting coaches. Is it intimidating when they come see you perform? When I was younger, I was always nervous when they came. Not because of anything they did, but because I wanted their approval so badly. I wanted them to think I was good, and I was so worried that they wouldn’t. But they have been so supportive and loving and encouraging over the years that I’m always excited when they’re there now. Have you ever seen that show? I haven’t, but I want to! I think it’s some kind of post-apocalyptic boat thing, right? I definitely want to check it out, it sounds like it’s up my alley. I’ll watch it eventually, but maybe one Last Ship at a time. Just for the role? Yeah, I thought it would be good. Not that there’s any real fighting in the show besides a bar fight, but I just thought it would be good to get it into my body and it turned out I really loved it. At first it’s awkward, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but it’s not rocket science in terms of getting started. Hit the f*cking pads, hit the bags. It’s thrilling. There’s also a TV show on TNT called The Last Ship—does anyone ever get them confused and think you’re starring in that, instead of the musical? [Laughs.] Yeah, there was one incident online, I think it was Variety or The Hollywood Reporter had an article about how the TV show had gotten picked up for another season, and they accidentally put a picture of me in a graveyard next to the headline. That made me laugh very, very much. Star Files What’s your favorite interaction you’ve had with Sting so far? It never really gets old! [Laughs.] The thing I’ll remember the most is the first workshop I did, it was the first day and we were singing material I didn’t know at all, and he said, “Here, do you want me to sing it with you?” So he just sat down right next to me and sang me through the song. There was something so paternal about it and gentle and encouraging, and it was a very moving moment for me. The Last Ship Are you squeamish in general about watching your work? Can you sit down and watch Nurse Jackie? I don’t typically enjoy watching myself, no. I feel like it brings out the worst in me. I’m at my most petty and superficial and critical and self-conscious when I’m watching myself work. I don’t need that stuff in my head. Michael Esperlast_img

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