FTS Q&A: Tim Simons

Tim Simons, a Readfield native, has been Filling the Steins as a UMaine alum since 2001, at which point he took his talents to the stage, screen, and bigger screens.  Currently holding DC on lockdown as Jonah on the massive HBO hit, VEEP, Tim has also guest starred on ‘Best Friends Forever,’ acted on stage in Chicago, and cracked you up in a few great commercials.  Upcoming: Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day’ with Dennis Leary and Jennifer Garner, as well as indie fare ‘Beneath the Harvest Sky’ and ‘The Girl Who Invented Kissing.’  Tim lives in LA with his wife and twin kids.  We couldn’t be more ecstatic to launch this new effort by Filling the Steins with Tim…

FTS: When did you graduate, if you don’t mind us asking? What was your major?
Tim: 2001.  Theatre Arts.

FTS: What dorm(s) did you live in?
Tim: Gannett for my first year.  Had a weird roommate and was surrounded by the football team.  Didn’t fit in at all.  Penobscot from then on, with one year off campus in Dryden Terrace.  Penobscot is what I consider home when I think about my time at UMaine.  We were an off-the-radar crew there, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t at the top of our game.  Huge Penobscot pride from those that lived there.  

FTS: How’d you get into acting? Is your family a creative bunch?
Tim: My family is a creative bunch.  My dad is a photographer, my sister a writer, my brother a musician.  I didn’t get into acting until halfway through my first year at Orono.  I was having trouble making friends in Gannett and I saw some ads for auditions for the 10 minute Underdog shows.  Do they still do those?  [Editor’s note: yes.]  I got cast in three of them, including one where I was a Vietnam vet who meets a vampire, and it wasn’t long until I was a major. 

FTS: Favorite UMaine memory that you care to share?
Tim: This is a legitimately hard thing to answer.  Beyond the incredible experiences that I had in shows and hanging with the Theatre Department, I remember the first day when the winter broke my freshman year.  Everyone flooded outside, skipped their classes, and wandered around just to enjoy the first time we had seen 50 degrees in six months.  Also, one of the things that I still miss is the drive up north on 95 in the fall, with the leaves just starting to change, heading toward the new school year.

FTS: What was your first post-college acting gig?
Tim: My first professional gig was in between my junior and senior years.  Myself and another friend from UMaine drove to Wisconsin to work at the Northern Lights Playhouse, a summer theater in the northwoods.  UMaine post-grad Claude Giroux was running the theatre that summer, and we worked insane hours putting up nine shows in eleven weeks.

FTS: You’re, like, wicked tall; how’s your jump shot? Tim: I’m terrible at basketball and hate playing it.  I do watch it though.  Go Celtics.

FTS: How does it feel to have beaten Daniel Day Lewis to playing Abraham Lincoln? Pretty good, right?
Tim: Fantastic.  I think history will be the final judge of those two performances, but I like my chances.

FTS: Playing Jonah on VEEP: does the fact that every. single. character. hates Jonah get at all weird off camera? How are the dynamics of such a great ensemble cast?
Tim: It doesn’t get weird really.  We get along quite well as a cast, and we’ve become quite good friends outside of work.  We all have thick skin, so if something is thrown out as an insult of physical appearance, I don’t take it personally.

FTS: Do you have a favorite Jonah moment or scene? Because I sure do. But we’re not talking about me.
Tim: I loved performing in the mosh pit.  That one was a huge challenge, and I think it came off pretty well.

FTS: In the upcoming ‘Draft Day,’ you play a scout for the Cleveland Browns. What position would you play on the gridiron?
Tim: In talking to the guys from the Browns I found out I would be a tight end.  Obviously I would have to have a lot more muscle than I currently have, but with my height and body type that’s where they would have put me.

FTS: Is ‘Draft Day’ shooting right now? What’s a day-in-the-life like on the set of a major feature movie?
Tim: Pretty much like a day of shooting on anything else.  A lot of hurry up and wait.  You try some things.  Some things work, some things don’t.  You make some jokes.  I had a blast on it.

FTS: You’re also in two more indie flicks coming up – ‘Beneath the Harvest Sky’ and ‘The Girl Who Invented Kissing.’ Do you have a preference, between stage, TV, and films?
Tim: I’d love to get back to doing plays like I did in college and in Chicago, but currently just focusing on on-camera work.  Opportunities are limited in TV because there are non-compete restrictions in contracts when you are a regular on a show, but it’s been a good summer for film work.  Knock on wood that keeps up.

FTS: ‘Beneath the Harvest Sky’ takes place in Maine – was it shot in Van Buren? Was there anything especially cool about shooting a movie near home?
Tim: We shot in Frenchville, so I was nowhere near home.  I had never been that far up north, and it was great to be there, albeit only for a few days. 

FTS: What’s the one thing you’d want to do if you were back at UMaine right now?
Tim: Wander around the Pavillion Theatre and Hauck Auditorium stages.  Talk to old professors and the current students.  Then go have a beer in the Pat’s Pizza basement. 

FTS: What are you filling your steins with these days?
Tim: Not much of anything.  The kids have taken all my free time for drinking.

Cheers to Tim – and thanks for being first in line!

 

mgrondin@fillthesteins.com

@matteegee (twitter)

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