LOS ANGELES — Steven Weber says he’s been “a horror genre junkie” since he was a kid watching scary stuff on television between his fingers.
So being cast in “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King” was a dream job that marks yet another Weber appearances in a King project.
The four-week anthology series, based on eight stories by the prolific writer, premieres 9 p.m. ET Wednesday on TNT, with an episode titled “Battleground,” starring William Hurt as a professional hit man battling toys. (A second episode immediately follows at 10 p.m. ET; each Wednesday two installments of the series will air.)
Weber’s episode is the final one, “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band,” airing 10 p.m. ET Aug. 2. He co-stars with Kim Delaney as a couple on a road trip who find themselves in a small town called Rock ’n Roll Heaven where the denizens look and sound eerily familiar.
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“I think this particular story has to do with pop culture and people’s addiction to it, and how underneath there is something nefarious and something unhealthy about people ingesting pop culture to such a point ... but on the surface it’s just another great Stephen King horror ditty,” says Weber.
Weber has worked on three previous King dramas. He starred in two miniseries: “The Shining” in 1997 and “Desperation” in May. He adapted, directed and acted in a King short story “Revelations of Becka Paulson” for the “The Outer Limits” series in 1997.
Never inclined to speak seriously about anything for too long, the 45-year-old Weber says he likes the “fun and unexpected” aspect of King’s work, the ultimate expression of a kind of storytelling he was drawn to as a child.
He recalls his father giving him a book, “Bad Guys,” written by film historian William K. Everson, full of stills of early horror movies that excited his interest in actors such as Lon Chaney Sr., Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
He used an old professional greasepaint kit to “try to be the ‘Werewolf of London’ like Henry Hull. And I’d use my mother’s cold cream to flatten down my hair and make a widow’s peak, and I fashioned fangs out of toothpicks. So I was pretty obsessed with that stuff.”
Born to showbiz parents, Weber was raised in New York and started acting in commercials as a kid. He now lives in Los Angeles with wife Juliette, an interior designer, and their two sons Jack, 5, and Alfie, 3.
He became known as the witty, irreverent, indolent pilot Brian Hackett in the 1990-97 TV sitcom “Wings.” He subsequently starred in two short-lived series, the sitcom “Cursed” (renamed “The Weber Show”) and the drama “The D.A.”
Recent theater work includes starring at London’s Old Vic with Kevin Spacey in “National Anthems” and on Broadway in the musical “The Producers.” In 2001 he wrote the Showtime TV movie “Club Land,” co-starring with Alan Alda in a tale about father-and-son showbiz agents.
He performs the late Danny Kaye’s tongue-twisting patter at charity events and would like to develop a full-scale production about the musical comedian.
New role for fall
Weber will portray a TV network chairman in “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” a new fall NBC series (created by Aaron Sorkin of “The West Wing”) that exposes the behind-the-scenes drama of a fictional TV variety show.
“During a scene in the pilot I had to walk though a lot of background actors and they were either directed to be afraid of me, or they just were. Because it was like the seas parted and they were flinching. It was really empowering,” Weber says, laughing, noting it’s a change for him to play an authoritarian figure.
Clark Willingham, the character in King’s story, isn’t in charge, even when he thinks he is.
“To me he represents every kind of idiot American male,” Weber says with a grin. “He doesn’t question his own judgment, which is questionable. He doesn’t question his need for a map to find out where he is going. He fights with his wife, who probably knows better anyhow, and then he kind of blindly accepts his fate.”
Weber would like to see more anthology series like “Nightmares & Dreamscapes.”
“This has always been a great form to try things out, to talk about things that maybe more mainstream television dare not discuss, things of a political nature, things of a psychological nature,” he says, citing such successful past anthologies with horror, sci-fi and mind-bending twists such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and the original “The Twilight Zone.”
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