PETER KRAUSE | A profile Stage, screen and TV: Actor fills his schedule
The 'Six Feet Under' star is now on the big screen.
If you happen to be in New York on a Sunday this summer, you can watch Peter Krause agonize in three different places: on television as rebellious son Nate Fisher in the HBO series "Six Feet Under," on Broadway as tormented lawyer Quentin in Arthur Miller's "After the Fall," and on screen as unhappy husband Hank in "We Don't Live Here Anymore."
And how does an actor manage to pull off a triple play? It's all in the scheduling.
On the phone from New York, Krause described how he squeezed in the film "We Don't Live Here Anymore" last summer, just after the emotional final scenes of the TV series' third season.
"We were filming the scene where I get beat up in the bar, and the scene in back of a limo where I'm being terrorized by my dead father and dead wife, filming until 2 in the morning." (For those not familiar with the delights of "Six Feet Under," a dark comedy/drama set in a family-owned funeral home, rest assured that this kind of familial interaction is par for the course.)
"Then I got on a plane and flew to Vancouver, that very day. That night, [director] John Curran and Mark Ruffalo and I sat down and started rewriting the scene we would shoot next day. John said later, "I looked at Peter, and I thought, 'Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?'"
Exhaustion aside, Krause's star has been rising ever since "Six Feet Under" debuted in 2001. (He'd originally gone in to read for the role of David, Nate's gay younger brother, until series creator Alan Ball convinced him that Nate was a better fit.) Until then, he was mostly known for playing sportscaster Casey McCall on "Sports Night," and occasional small movie roles.
First starring role
"We Don't Live Here Anymore" is his first starring role in a high-profile film. Based on two short stories by Andre Dubus ("In the Bedroom") and filmed in Vancouver, B.C., "We Don't Live Here Anymore" is a two-couple character study about married life and infidelity. Krause plays Hank, an English professor. Naomi Watts is his wife, Edith, who's having an affair with Hank's colleague Jack (Mark Ruffalo), whose wife Terry (Laura Dern) is Edith's best friend.
Krause said he was drawn by the simplicity of Larry Gross' screenplay, "a story about people's lives and relationships, not a lot of bells and whistles." He was also impressed by Curran's previous film, "Praise," and by the early commitment of Ruffalo and Watts, "a couple of actors I greatly admire."
Hank, a writer who's become emotionally distant from his wife, was a character Krause obviously enjoyed sinking his teeth into. "The redeeming thing about him is, he doesn't expect anyone else to behave any differently from him ... I understand Hank's feelings of the struggle in the moment-to-moment nature of life -- the rigors of a social institution like marriage, with its shoulds and should nots. [The movie is] a different exploration of the problems that a lot of people face."
On stage this summer, his biggest challenge is adjusting his screen-honed technique to fit a live performance. "There's a lot that I can allow to happen in my mind that registers on film that doesn't register on stage," he said. "You have to make sure that the people in the back row are feeling as much of your performance as they possibly can."
"After the Fall" continues through September, and Krause looks forward to a break before "Six Feet Under" starts up again later in the fall. "I'm overstimulated!" he says, with a sigh that sounds part happy and part weary. Being an in-demand actor has its rewards, but rest isn't one of them.