For years, Seth Green has been popping up across the media horizon like Bugs Bunny from his countless rabbit holes. Here’s a guy as hard for the audience to get a bead on as Bugs is for poor Elmer Fudd — and arguably he’s no less inventive.
Right now Green’s work is in the sights of TV viewers on no fewer than three shows.
—On the animated “Family Guy” (Fox, Sunday at 9 p.m. ET), he furnishes the quavery whine of slothful teen Chris.
—On “Robot Chicken” (Cartoon Network, Sunday at 11:30 p.m.), his handiwork is evident as a creator, producer, director, writer and voice artist on this kookie stop-motion-animated sketch-comedy series populated by dolls and action figures.
—And on his new sitcom, “Four Kings” (NBC, Thursday at 8:30 p.m.), Green plays one of a quartet of twentysomething chums who cohabit a Manhattan apartment that serves as their zany halfway house between college and adulthood.
Green joins Josh Cooke (last year’s sitcom “Committed”), Shane McRae (“One Life to Live”) and Todd Grinnell (“The Dangling Conversation”) as the titular “Four Kings,” which premiered last week.
Specter of failure still hauntsBut for Green, who come February will turn a still-tender 32, these are just the latest credits in a quarter-century-long career.
Consider that at 10 he landed his first film assignment, in “Hotel New Hampshire” with Jodie Foster. He starred in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” as the boyhood version of the Woody-inspired character.
Other film roles include “Knockaround Guys,” “Can’t Hardly Wait” and all three “Austin Powers” comedies. On TV he was Oz, a sometime werewolf on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” and costarred with an ill-tempered puppet on the zany “Greg the Bunny.”
Now on “Four Kings,” the 5-foot-4 Green stands tall as irrepressible Barry, a loudmouth redhead given to boasts like, “Some lucky lady is gonna get herself a slice of Barry pie.” (Which spurs the retort: “Really, more of a short bread.”)
“I love it!” says Green, savoring the characters’ give-and-take. “It’s a lot of fun.”
But then the old pro in him reclaims control: The specter of failure dogs every new project.
“I’m at a point in my career where I just don’t take it personally,” he says. “What’s been harder to get my head around is the possibility that the show could be an enormous hit. I have been transient, going from job to job, for a while.” He laughs. “The possibility of the show being successful is more on my mind than it being a flop.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Green got the acting bug at age 6 while at a summer camp where his mother worked as arts instructor. Her campers were staging “Hello, Dolly!” and, at little Seth’s urging, a part for him was plugged into the script:
“I run on stage and say, ’She’s here, she’s here! Dolly’s here!’ And I knew: This is what I wanted for my career. So I talked to my parents: ‘What are we gonna do about it?”’
By good fortune, he soon landed an audition with a local talent agent. The next day he was dispatched to New York to audition for a commercial. He got it. He was 7.
“From the first, I loved the process: telling stories, being silly, being serious. Reading a script and making the character real.”
But along the way, Green decided that vying for good roles wasn’t the only way to get ahead.
“I realized how much of what I intend to do is my responsibility to make happen,” he explains. “For instance, my partner, Matthew Senreich, and I shopped ‘Robot Chicken’ around for over three years, and I can’t tell you how many times we heard ’This is not for us,’ before we got it to the Cartoon Network. There, we got to make exactly the show we wanted to make.
“I always wanted to get into writing, directing and producing by my 30s,” he says proudly, “and this show is a great environment for me to test all my skills and develop them — in private.” By which he means: His “Robot Chicken” action-figure stars make few demands, throw even fewer tantrums, and never squawk to the press about problems on the set.
With shooting wrapped on “Four Kings,” Green is halfway through filming the second year of “Robot Chicken,” which should be finished by the time his sitcom resumes production, should it win a pickup for next fall.
Even if it doesn’t, Green is pleased with his career.
“I love having gotten this far and having nobody label me too specifically,” he grins, “and without being the prey of the paparazzi. Nobody cares about my private life.
“In fact, people hanging out with me are safe, too. A friend who is a famous star went with me to a diner on Sunset at 2 in the morning, at the height of her being pursued by all the tabloids. The place was packed and we hung out. And there wasn’t a word about it anywhere.
“I told her, ‘Stick with me. You’re bulletproof by association!”’ Even at the height of Seth Green season.