It was seventeen years ago that Jeremy Sisto made his career breakthrough in “Clueless,” Amy Heckerling‘s pop cultural touchstone about 1990s California teens. Back then he played high school student Elton, whose unwanted advances were rebuffed by Alicia Silverstone. Cut to 2012 and the shoe is on the other foot; now he plays George, the single father of a teenage girl on ABC’s freshman sitcom “Suburgatory.” His on-screen daughter, Tessa, is played by Jane Levy, who is close to the same age Sisto was when he made “Clueless.” “It’s fun to watch her learn how to be on a set, how to give her best performance … how to work with different kinds of actors, and I try to help out whenever I can,” says Sisto of his 22-year-old co-star.
Sisto’s life has changed off-screen as well as on since his “Clueless” days. He is a husband and father – his daughter makes a cameo appearance during our interview – and he considers himself more grounded since his youth. “I was constantly trying to reinvent myself, trying to figure out who I was … That’s what I have now: I know who I am … and I kind of just know what I can offer as an actor and as a person.”
“Suburgatory” marks a change of pace for Sisto. Since “Clueless” he has starred in mostly dramatic roles, including “Six Feet Under,” in which he played Rachel Griffiths‘s bipolar brother, and most recently “Law & Order,” where he starred as Detective Cyrus Lupo for the long-running drama’s final three seasons. It’s a “welcome switch,” says Sisto of his present comedic role. On “Law & Order,” he explains, he tended to “play down, not get in the way of any of the plot, and this is the opposite … We were worried a little bit that George would just be kind of the straight man … but he’s got his own quirks that make me as an actor have to do things that would have felt completely wrong if I were on ‘Law & Order.'”
“Suburgatory” ends its first season on May 16, when we may or may not finally meet Tessa’s absentee mother, according to Sisto. The actor has also co-written and co-stars in “Break Point,” a comedy-drama film about doubles tennis that he expects to start shooting in June.
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