‘Being Mary Jane’ Stephen Bishop Exclusive Interview

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Photo by Benjo Arwas.

The news that Being Mary Jane was approved for a second season means that Stephen Bishop, who plays David Paulk the on again off again love interest of Mary Jane (Gabrielle Union), will be coming back as well and the busy actor gave the Guardian Liberty Voice an exclusive interview to talk about the show as well as other things. The 43 year old actor used to play for The Atlanta Braves before getting into the entertainment business as an actor.

In 2003, Stephen got his big break working with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who starred in the film The Rundown. Bishop was cast as Knappmiller, an NFL star who “bets like Pete Rose.” At the beginning of the action/comedy Johnson’s character Beck has to get money from Knappmiller, or his NFL ring. Stephen rocked it in this small but important role and at the end of the scene, after Beck has kicked major butt and then takes down the NFL star, Knappmiller looks up at Beck and asks plaintively, “Why all the aggression?”

That line was improvised by Bishop and both Johnson and director Peter Berg got such a kick out of the line, it was left in the final product. Stephen has put the same amount of care and effort into his acting career that he put into his baseball one. He has worked steadily since his start in 2003 and after just over 10 years has 26 credits under his belt. That equates to two projects per year. His latest project is that of Mary Jane Paul’s boyfriend who, at the end of season one, is told of her love for him despite David having a baby with another woman.

The Guardian Liberty Voice caught up with Stephen Bishop for an exclusive interview while the Being Mary Jane actor was playing golf with his very good friend from ESPN. Proving that men can multi-task, he managed to speak with Deputy Managing Editor Michael Smith while making playing and by the ninth hole had made par. Stephen talked about working with Gabrielle Union on Being Mary Jane, and what it was like working for Union in her capacity as producer on With This Ring. Stephen stars opposite Regina Hall (Think Like a Man Too, About Last Night) in this Lifetime feature. He also talked about many other things.

Guardian Liberty Voice: “Hello Stephen. We would like to thank you for taking time out if your busy schedule to talk with us.”

Stephen Bishop: “No problem, you’ll have to bear with me a little bit, I’m playing golf.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “That’s quite all right. We just wanted to have a chat with you about the second season of Being Mary Jane and what it was like working with Gabrielle Union.”

Stephen Bishop: “Okay, we’ll start by talking about what it’s like working with Gabs. Well, Gab is fantastic. She’s always prepared and I think she is a great actress. She and I have a great working chemistry together and we never miss a beat when one of us goes into improv. It is really a good synergy that we have going on. She is a great gal, and a big sports fan. As you know she just married a world class basketball player and if you follow her on Instagram you’ll know she’s got some pretty good skills herself when it comes to basketball.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “And presumably she’s a good producer as well.”

Stephen Bishop: “That’s right! (Gabrielle produced “With This Ring” and played a cameo in the production) I was very happy to work for Gab as well as working with her. It was also incredible working with Regina Hall. We’ve been friends for around 15 years. She’s the sweetest, kindest person in the world and she loves her dog Zeus. Anyone that is an animal lover is great in my book. She is hilarious and great to work with, I really enjoyed working with her.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “Are the two actresses similar to work with? In other words do they approach things the same?”

Stephen Bishop: “Not at all. They have a lot in common, but there are a lot of differences between them. It is tough to spot the differences. Because I work with Gab on a dramatic level I feel a difference in her energy. Since we have a restricted emotional level Gabs can’t be as zany. Regina is very funny, spontaneous and very free. Gabs is free as well but in a more restricted way because of the emotional arena we are in.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: Speaking of Gabrielle now and Being Mary Jane, it appears things are changing between the two of you in season two, what can you tell us?”

Stephen Bishop: “I can’t say too much, but things have changed as my character got another woman pregnant and we have to deal with that in the second season. David and Mary Jane are not finished. I believe that they are star crossed lovers and they have a lot to sort out. There is a lot going on and a lot of men in America have similar problems to these two and I think that’s why the show is so popular.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “Now acting is really your second career, you started out working with the Atlanta Braves.”

Stephen Bishop: “That’s right. I played with the Braves and the St Paul Saints and then the Baltimore Orioles and then scouted for the Braves so yeah, baseball was my first career.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “You’ve played a lot of sports oriented roles in your career so far. The first thing I saw you in was The Rundown, your cameo with The Rock was great, you really ran with that.”

Stephen Bishop: “That was my first real time spent on a studio movie set and The Rock and Peter Berg were really cool and gracious with me.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “I loved how after your character got trounced by Beck, as a result of your character’s refusal to play along, you look up and very honestly say, “What’s with all the hostility?”

Stephen Bishop: (Laughing) “Thanks, yeah that was improv. Funnily enough all of my best lines have so far been improv. Like on “Moneyball,” my character’s response to the line “What was I supposed to do,” was “You were supposed to love me.” That was improv as well.”

Guardian Liberty Voice: “Wow. It’s great you mentioned Moneyball as I was about to ask you about working on that film in that you’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the industry; Brad Pitt, Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Vera Farmiga and so on. Who, in your mind, was the person who lived up to their reputation.”

Stephen Bishop: “There were two. Philip Seymour Hoffman on “Moneyball” was incredible to watch and Denzel Washington on “Safe House,” I mean you should have to pay to get to watch that. To get to watch that from behind the scenes, they could charge a lot of money.”

Stephen has to pause for a moment to take his shot and apologised explaining that he plays golf regularly with his friend Stan Verrett from ESPN Sports Center. He mentioned that he tries to play two or three times a week and he confirmed that his handicap currently is an 8.

Guardian Liberty Voice: “Speaking of sports again, what was it like playing your hero David Justice in Moneyball?

Stephen Bishop: “That was great! I got the chance to play on a big league field, wear a big league uniform and play my idol. It was actually a really rewarding experience.”

On top of season two of Being Mary Jane premiering February 2015, Stephen Bishop will be seen in With This Ring in January/February and he is in the film Miss Meadows with Katie Holmes which out in theatres now. As Stephen says, he has a lot of things going on at the moment. We spoke about the possibility of a third season and just how popular the Gabrielle Union series is. Before he got back to his game, and made par, Stephen had this to say:

By Michael Smith

Sources:

IMDb

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Stephen Bishop Interview November 12, 2014

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