“They were living the life of a rock star without any of the fame,” declares Paul Scheer of the brokers portrayed in the Showtime comedy “Black Monday” about the stock market crash of 1987. Watch our exclusive video interview above where he adds, “Obviously it was a terrible event where people lost their money and livelihood. But the thing I love is the way these brokers acted in the ’80s. They were doing coke, they were going out, they were partying. Then they would go back home to Long Island. And that precarious life is the funniest thing to me about it. When I was doing my research for the character, I watched this one guy who made a million dollars in a day – in the ’80s which is huge – and then the next month he was managing a gym. Not running a gym, he was like one of four managers for a gym. This is mind-blowing. I’ve never seen such a high-stake low-stake world in my life.”
On the series also starring Don Cheadle, Regina Hall and Casey Wilson, Scheer plays stock broker Keith. The actor says, “Keith goes back and forth between his life at the office, the life he has with his wife and the life he has with his boyfriend. Oftentimes he gets caught in this loop – much like a ‘Brady Bunch’ episode – of bopping back and forth. Who did he tell the lie to? How does he cover for it? A lot of my performance is based on what we did in the pilot to figure out the tone of the show. We can do crazy, but how can we make these characters real? Because they do have stakes, and without that the show flutters.”
Scheer explains that the melding of Keith’s struggle and show’s craziness was displayed in the scene where “he has to get out of a family trip. He basically poisons himself to puke over his family and all over the car. It was absolutely insane. First off all, I was vomiting on little children which was hilarious and distressing to them. That was a fun and intense day.”
The actor says, “I got to do more dramatic stuff and different things than what I’ve ever gotten to do. Keith can’t live the life he wants to live as a closeted man in the ’80s. Keith’s lying to everyone except his boyfriend. He’s constantly living in fear. I wanted Keith to be wearing a toupee and call that out a little bit. I felt the toupee was an outward expression of how he lies to the world. He’s basically a man on the run.”
On a show that revels in the rock star lives of ’80s Wall Street, Scheer jests that his body took a toll. He explains, “I probably got some sort of lung disease. In the pilot everyone was smoking and we are in a small room with no ventilation. I came home and reeked of smoke so badly it was going back inside my mouth when I breathed. It was the biggest anti-smoking campaign I’ve ever seen. Basically shoot for 12 hours smoking and you’ll never want to smoke.”
“Black Monday” was recently renewed for a second season, but Scheer is unsure what’s in store for his character. He reveals that“Keith was supposed to die at the end of the first season. He basically runs out of roadway. I don’t know where he goes from here. Does he gets more hardened or more soft? We’ll see in Season 2.”
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