Michael Esper on Working With Sting

the last ship sting

Actor Michael Esper is no doubt an accomplished stage actor, and most recently he’s been spending his days and nights in Sting’s The Last Ship, which ends its Broadway run January 24th. Before he ships off (pun intended) to his next project, we thought we’d sit down with the actor to reminisce on what it was like working with Sting, eating in Times Square, and splashing the front row during a performance (yes, you heard us correctly)…

a beautiful mind actor

From start to finish what would be your ideal food day?

Bunch at Norma’s, pulled pork at Fette Sau for a late lunch, and Paulie Gee’s for a pizza dinner. Chocolate chip bread pudding from Blue Ribbon for dessert.

Spots around Times Square you like to eat…

I love Green Symphony for something quick and healthy. The Bahn Mi at Num Pang is amazing. Also, the matzo ball soup at Café Edison is a favorite for sure, so please reopen it.

What’s always on set with you?

Well, I don’t like to do anything that’s going to take my imagination too far away from what I’m working on that day, so it’s mostly just little distractions to pass the time. I like playing mindless iPhone/iPad games during downtime on set, so those things are always with me.

How is it working with Sting?

It’s really been a wonderful experience, mostly because he’s as supportive and compassionate as he is skilled. It’s a thrill to be onstage with him. And obviously the show is deeply personal for him, so it really makes you want to live it and communicate it as well as you possibly can.

Best moment during a show so far…

Well one night I threw the boots in the water and splashed a good section of the front row, so you’re welcome front row!

How did you prepare for the role?

I boxed on and off for about eight months or so, working with an amazing trainer named Gerald Bunsen. There’s not a lot of fighting in the show but I just wanted it in my body a bit. I worked on my singing a bunch, and the rest of the work was imaginative, just daydreaming about the circumstances of the show a lot.

What are some pre and post show routines?

We run through the fight stuff before every show, and then do a vocal warm up. Then I’ll do some stretching with a roller and some more vocal warm ups while I’m getting dressed and mic’d up. After the show I’ll do a little vocal cool down and maybe some steaming while watching The Office over and over again. Basically just all the same stuff Mötley Crüe did.

Anything you don’t eat or drink the day of a show? Anything you always do eat or drink?

I try to stay away from dairy and anything spicy, which is brutal because I love all things spicy. Lots of water is good, pineapple is good but I may also be totally making that up. Gerther’s Pastilles are also amazing for keeping lubricated and such.

What are your favorite NYC restaurants?

I love Perla on Minetta lane – such good food and they’re open late. Paulie Gee’s of course. Samurai Mama in Williamsburg is also great. I always have wonderful meals at Gotham Bar & Grill too.

If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook/order in?

My dinner party would be the four original members of Big Star and Elvis Presley. Alex Chilton recorded a song about how he wished he could meet Elvis, so maybe he could sing that. And we could eat some of the best barbecue Memphis has to offer, which I feel like Elvis would be able to hook up no problem.

*Michael Esper, photographed at Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn, NY by Danielle Kosann.