Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Polk, an actor who during the day can be found working on hit television series “Billions”, and at night on the Broadway stage as a member of “The Bands Visit”. Andrew spoke with me about his experience working on “Billions”, how he transitions from stage to television and also gives us some insight into what we can expect from his character and the new season of “Billions”. In addition, he offered some profound advice for any creative individual looking to break into the industry. I’d like to extend thanks to Andrew for talking with us, and express how excited we are to watch him take on both stage and television. See below for the full interview.
1. You’re currently recurring in a number of roles on both television and Broadway, is there one in particular that you find harder to prepare for?
I think it’s challenging to do both at the same time because the mediums are really so different. Working on Broadway in front of 1,000 people a night requires a different kind of energy to reach everyone in the theater than doing the intimate work you need to do in front of a camera. But I truly love that challenge because it requires me to use all the skills I have.
2. With the new season of Billions having just premiered can you give us insight into your character, Freddie Eisen, and what we can expect from him throughout the new season?
Freddie Eisen will come in and out of season 4 of Billions. He’s an attorney but more in the mode of a “fixer” and a power player than a practicing attorney. Freddie uses his influence in circles of power to help Chuck with many sticky situations.
3. Freddie Eisen is a New York attorney, did you do any specific research to prepare for this role?
I actually worked in New York for several years as a paralegal as a survival job. That provided me with tons of material and research on attorneys. And there is definitely one attorney that I got to know who is serving as a model for Freddie Essen.
4. With this new role, you get to work closely with Paul Giamatti, how was that experience?
Easiest question in the world to answer. Working with Paul Giamatti is a delight. He is a brilliantly gifted actor. He is just an all-around great guy to hang around and so great to work with. He is so committed and works so hard at his craft and yet was super generous to me when working on the scenes we had together. It was a gift to work with him.
5. If you were to describe the new season of Billions in three words, what would they be?
SURPRISING. RIVETING. SUBVERSIVE.
6. What was the most exciting part of playing Freddie Eisen and why?
It was a thrill to play Freddie Eisen mainly because my wife and I had been huge fans of the show well before I knew I would be on it. We couldn’t wait to see the new season and then I found out I would be in the new season. It makes it extra exciting and surreal.
7. What has been one of your most memorable experiences during your time as an actor and why?
To be honest, right now is my most memorable experience. I get to perform in a 10-time Tony award winning musical at night on Broadway while during the day I am blessed to have these terrific roles on several shows that I love: “Billions”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Instinct”. I am old enough now to know that this is a really fruitful time and to enjoy the moment.
8. Does your process of preparation vary between television and stage? Is there something you do for one, that you don’t do for the other, and why?
In general I tend to wind myself up for performing on stage and wind myself down for performing on film. To me, acting on film requires a great deal of relaxation. So I do a lot of things to get both focused and relaxed for that work; meditation, yoga, breathing are really helpful to me. For stage, I find that a physical and vocal warmup are really helpful. I also rely on a pretty rigid pre-show routine of light food, physical exercise. Then I tend to use music a lot to put me in the world of play or musical that I’m in.
9. “The Bands Visit” is your first stage role, how has the experience been?
“The Band’s Visit” is my first Broadway show, yes. It’s been a fantastic experience. The show has touched so many people and it is really gratifying to be part of something that has everybody delivering a message of unity, humor and love. Also I am surrounded by artists who are all at the top of their game and are doing it at the highest level – Broadway. It’s a unique time and I am so grateful to be on the ride of “The Band’s Visit”
10. If there was one piece of advice you could offer young creatives striving to break into the performing arts, what would it be?
Always prepare yourself as if you are about to get the next great job. That means constantly work on your craft, your body, your health. Also, don’t ever let anybody say you can’t do something or can’t perform certain work. If you know you have the ability and training, if it is in your heart, just continue to go for it and tune all the negativity out.