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Talk Radio

Liev Schreiber stars in the Broadway premiere of Eric Bogosian's no-holds-barred portrait of a radio talk show host.

Sebastian Stan


Age: 23

Currently: Holding his own against Liev Schreiber in his Broadway debut as itchy druggie Kent, an explosive midnight caller in Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio. He's pure punk rock, baby.

Hometown: Born in the Romanian town of Costanza on Friday the 13th and sharing an August birthday with Alfred Hitchcock, Stan moved with his mother at age 8 to Vienna, where she was employed as a pianist. Four years later, they relocated to Rockland County, New York, after she married the headmaster of an American school. Culture shock? Not really, the easygoing actor says: "When you're thrown into something so young, you don't think about it too much. I was an only child, so it took me a while to form friends because my stepdad was the headmaster, and I had an accent for a while, but it was still early and you just sort of suck in everything at that age."

If They Could See Me Now: Stan fell in love with acting at Stagedoor Manor, the famous performing arts camp in the Catskills that nurtured stars such as Natalie Portman, Zach Braff and Mandy Moore. He spent his summers doing roles in musicals like Grease and Sweet Charity and met a manager he's still working with seven years later. "By the time I was a senior in high school, I was looking for schools I could go to for acting," he recalls; he chose the drama department at Rutgers University in New Jersey, with a year abroad studying Shakespeare at the Globe Theater. "I was always itching to get out," he says of college, "but fortunately [my manager] urged me to stay in school." While completing his B.F.A., Stan cut his teeth on independent films and landed a prime role on the 2003 season finale of Law & Order in a plotline based on DC's sniper shootings. "It was my first real professional experience, and thank god I had a very nurturing director," he says with a smile. "Things move quickly on that show, and I was pretty paranoid!"

Cult of The Covenant: Stan made his feature film debut last year in Renny Harlin's Lost Boys-esque supernatural thriller The Covenant. "We were pretending to be these super-hero people and did a lot of rig work—flying through the air, with these inch-long contacts to make our eyes black. It was cool! But we were all kind of new to [films], so we didn't really know how to work it." Still, The Covenant won Stan plenty of young admirers, spawning fan sites and loads of interest in his personal myspace page. "I joined myspace a long time ago for a different reason," he says with a laugh, "but now it's become a whole different thing for me. It's crazy getting some of these messages. You can't really respond to everybody, but you want to make sure that people understand how much you appreciate hearing from them."

The Bogosian Connection: In spite of his budding success in film—including the upcoming drama The Education of Charlie Banks, co-starring Jason Ritter and Eva Amurri—Stan declares, "I was always looking to do theater. Hell, I tried out for Raleigh in Journey's End" a part that went to another young actor with a distinctive name, Stark Sands. But it was his audition for Second Stage's fall production of Eric Bogosian's subUrbia that eventually got him to Broadway. "I went in to audition at least five times; they set up all these work sessions with me, and I met Eric. In the end, it didn't work out, but I think it gave him an idea about me, which definitely led to this." The subUrbia role went to Stan's friend Kieran Culkin.

Punk, Not Puke: When Stan first read the role of Kent—whose hilariously moronic calls lead talk show host Barry Champlain Schreiber to invite him into the studio—the young actor confesses, "I didn't really get my character. I was looking at the language going, 'Man, I know this guy is on something, but are there parts when he's being serious?' Ultimately, Stan was inspired by punk music from Big Star to the Clash and the Ramones, documentaries on the punk scene like Sid and Nancy and his own new Billy Idol-like platinum-blond 'do. "Plus, it was like a huge master class every day in rehearsal with [director] Bob Falls and [star] Liev Schreiber," he says. "I spent the whole time at the table taking notes on everything Liev was saying: quoting Shakespeare and how [Talk Radio] was similar to this or that play. I'd come in and be so hyped up and he'd be like, 'Listen. It's all great, but you gotta figure out what you want here and why.' It can't just be one huge, sort of, vomit thing." Truly words to live by.

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