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Steven Ogg wants to be in an A24 film. Having starred in shows like The Walking Dead and Snowpiercer, Ogg tells The Hollywood Reporter that he is still reaching for new opportunities that will continue to challenge him.
“Everyone seems to think I’m at the table, turning down scripts and projects, but it’s just waiting for opportunities,” Ogg says of what he’s looking for next in his career. “I love being of service to others’ visions and stories, big to small.”
And as long as he’s acting, he’s happy. “I just love to be in that circus,” says Ogg, who is also one of the voice actors in Grand Theft Auto. “That circus is my happy place. I’m a better person when I’m in that happy place.”
In addition to his interest in starring in high-profile indie films in the future, Ogg isn’t opposed to hopping back on The Walking Dead wagon, especially to explore the backstory behind the show’s main antagonist Negan and his right-hand man Simon (played by Ogg). If the phone rang for a spin-off show, he’d be up for the challenge. “That would be a no-brainer,” he said.
Most recently, the actor reprised his role as energetic salesman Bob Giovanni in a series of Old Spice commercials — a role that he originated in previous Old Spice spots in 2016. THR caught up with Ogg on all things Old Spice, Snowpiercer and what’s to come for the actor.
How did your involvement in the commercial come about? Were you approached, and what did you think when you first heard about it?
In 2016 when we did the initial Bob Giovanni [commercials], it was such a fun, wonderful experience. I just love to create characters for whatever it is — TV, movies, theater or commercials. It’s all acting, doesn’t matter what the format is. So the character was very appealing to me when we did that. It was a fun character, and I think at the time, I was probably playing characters that weren’t known for being so fun, even though I do comedy, too. So it didn’t take much convincing other than, “do you wanna do this again?” That was it.
It’s been a tough slot these past few years, and now we’ve got new things to make us depressed and upset. Anytime we can find something to smile about or laugh at — I don’t mind being laughed at. You don’t even have to laugh with me, as long as you’re laughing. It’s nice to feel good, and get some reprieve. These spots certainly allow you to have a smile.
What influences did you pull from for the Bob Giovanni character?
It’s a good script, right? If you got the right words, it sort of does the job. It was all right there, so it was pretty easy to just jump in. As you start to do it, you think about these infomercials that we would watch at 3:00 AM when we couldn’t sleep or whatnot. Before the streaming services, when we literally had just TV with the spots and these infomercials. It’s those ridiculous ones where everyone’s just hyped up. It’s like this hyper-manic type of energy. Or there’s those fitness ones, and there’s some ridiculous new machine that they’re trying to sell, and you’re like, ‘That looks horrible.’ But to them, it’s the best. I got more of it from like the influences that are just floating around as opposed to the specific, you know?
Are you an Old Spice user yourself?
It’s been one that I have used, ironically enough. It’s not like I was seeking them out. It just happened to be one that I do use. Old Spice is always a nostalgic thing for me. It was my granddad or my grandpa that used the Old Spice when it was in a bottle, the after shave. There’s that weird attachment for me, there’s some nostalgia in it. I use it and I do enjoy it and that’s more just luck of the draw, as opposed to “Pay me, and I’ll say I like anything.” That’s not the case.
You’re widely known for your role in AMC’s The Walking Dead, which has been on the air for over a decade and recently produced new spin-offs.
I was just hearing about something, someone told me there’s a Negan backstory that they heard about coming on. I was like, another spinoff?
The show has such a dedicated fanbase. Do you often get recognized on the street by fans?
Yeah, it’s pretty wild. I’m heading out to Scotland tomorrow to do a [convention] and it’s still a huge thing. It’s incredible, the fans remain as loyal as ever. Getting recognized for what I do honestly depends on what I look like or what mood I’m in, too. Like right now I look quite different because I was just filming a project where I was clean shaven — head shaved, face shaved. But if I have the mustache and the longer hair still — ‘Hey! You’re Simon!’ I was surprised recently, wearing masks, and people still [recognize me] with just the eyes. I guess, the voice too. So it’s mostly depending on the look and the fans are certainly wonderful and incredibly loyal and supportive, as I am for them because it’s pretty cool.
When I heard about that Negan thing, because I had not heard about it and I don’t really follow along, I was like, man, that would be cool. We’ve always said that, but my cell phone has not buzzed yet in regard to seeing Negan and Simon [again.] Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] and I would always [wonder], what was that old world? Negan’s a gym teacher and Simon is sort of like a Glengarry Glen Ross. It’d be interesting to see that.
If the phone rang, would you be interested?
Yeah, certainly. They’re all still my dear friends, I mean, you don’t keep in touch as much as you like, but we’re all still friends. Michael [Greyeyes], who’s doing Fear the Walking Dead, I just love, and I actually just recently messaged him. I was like, this year we gotta do something, collaborate on something together. Because it was a great experience. It’s a great group. Just like with these Old Spice commercials, when there’s something that exists that you enjoy, it doesn’t take much. That would be a no brainer.
These days, it’s nice to watch something that’s a comfort.
To have levity in the brevity is nice. Goodness inspires me. Even if it’s a sad song, it doesn’t mean I don’t get enjoyment out of it. But a good laugh — it’s really nice and needed these days.
We’re in the midst of season 3 of Snowpiercer, and a recent episode saw the death of your character Pike. Is this the end for Pike? How did you feel going into that episode?
It always sucks to be killed off because you’re leaving the family that you work with for, in this case, a few years. I think it was a little surprising, we weren’t sure if there was gonna be a season four, and I think there were some storylines and some ideas that wanted to be wrapped up, and I was part of one storyline being wrapped up. You know, I’m not a writer, showrunner nor producer, so I’m just the actor. I think there was a bit of uncertainty at that time about a season four, so it’s like, let’s do something big and splashy. And again, I don’t mind being a part of that. Making an impact, making people feel, even if it’s sadness. It’s also nice to be missed as opposed to going on and on and on. I mean, the employment is wonderful. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wanna be the next Sean Bean who was known for getting killed in every show he was on. I don’t want to take that mantle, but it was — it’s weird to say ‘fun and exciting’ — but when you have a big ending like that, it is fun. You get to step in the ring and you get to play and you get to create something and have fun with it.
You’ve spoken before about being typecast in sort of crazy, unpredictable roles. What do you hope to explore next in your career?
Well, now that I see that A24 just got a whole bunch of money. I’m like, how about one of those? It sounds as cheesy as can be, but I love to act and I’ve done it since I was a kid. I’m a better person when I’m acting, performing, whatever one wants to label that as. How do I do this 30 times and make it still look interesting or different or cool? I don’t work as much as people think I do. Everyone seems to think I’m at the table, turning down scripts and projects, but it’s just waiting for opportunities. So I’m just looking for more opportunities. I love being of service to others’ visions and stories, [from] big to small. I think it was Willem Defoe — they asked him about the Marvel movies versus The Lighthouse, and [he said] it’s all acting, so it’s all great. That’s how I view it. It’s just like, I just await the opportunities and then embrace them, and go as much as I can on them.
I just love to be in that circus, that circus is my happy place. I’m a better person when I’m in that happy place. So the things I want to do aren’t always what I get to do. But I always say I’m grateful. I’m holding the gratefulness and appreciation with one arm because I’m very fortunate, but my other arm is still reaching out there. I’m still reaching because all these big projects have been wonderful, but it’s still not what I’m reaching for. Like I’d love to do the A24. Steven [Yeun], another Walking Dead [actor] — what Steven’s done with the projects he’s got — I love those films. Did you see Titane? I love people with a unique vision and unique voice and those are the projects I want to be involved in. So I’m certainly not picky other than I don’t like working with people that aren’t nice.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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