Stephen McKinsley Henderson Doesn’t Call Himself a Character Actor: “I’m what I like to call a story-line actor”

stephen-mckinley-hendersonActor Stephen McKinsley Henderson has followed up his Tony-nominated role opposite Denzel Washington in the 2010 production of August Wilson‘s Fences and long-running recurring role as judge on Law & Order with recent appearances in episodes of The Newsroom and a role in the highest profile film of his career, Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. 

In Lincoln Henderson plays Lincoln’s personal valet and friend William Slade.  He spoke to The Buffalo News about how he sees himself as an actor and what it was like working on Lincoln — particularly with star Daniel Day-Lewis.

Henderson gives an assessment of his main goal as a supporting actor.  He says, “I’m not a box office name, and I’m not a box office face, and I’m not an action hero. I’m an actor, and I mainly work because someone trusts me with dramatic literature. I’m what I like to call a story-line actor.  Some people call them character actors, but it’s really story-line actors. It’s like, you gotta get someone to believe in the story.”

He points to Lincoln as one of the best and most fulfilling roles of his career.  He explains, “It was joyous and it was so meaningful, because everybody there came with a sense of a mission. You knew what it meant to Steven Spielberg and you knew what it mean to [writer Tony] Kushner. If you got a chance like I did to work so closely with Daniel [Day-Lewis], it was clear that it was going to be one of his truly committed and dedicated performances.”

In fact, he gives an example of how Day-Lewis introduced himself — in character, of course — to him for the first time.  He reveals, “When I first came to the set, he said, ‘Oh, Mr. Slade, it’s so good to see you again.’ He wasn’t meeting a new actor, he was meeting an old friend.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/director-david-gordon-greene-nar.jpg
Director David Gordon Green Narrates a Scene From ‘Joe’
Director David Gordon Green narrates a sequence from his new film, Joe, featuring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. In the video, he mentions his reasons why he likes to hire non-traditional actors. He likes people who have real skill-sets and not actors who have the skills on their resume. He also talked about this in […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/david-gordon-green-joe.jpg
Director David Gordon Green: “I find actors in unusual places”
I keep missing screenings of director David Gordon Greene‘s new film, Joe. I hear it’s really good so I’m looking forward to catching it at some point. Joe stars Nicholas Cage as ex-con Joe Ransom, who isn’t the greatest of role models until he meets a 15-year-old boy (Mud‘s Tye Sheridan). In this featurette, Green […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/judy-greer-i-dont-know-why-you-know-me-from.jpg
Please Don’t Say These Things To Judy Greer (video)
Judy Greer - who we love here at Daily Actor – has a new book called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From (Confessions of a Co-Star), a series of essays about her life as an actress, friend and someone who everyone thinks they might know. Here’s a blurb about the book: “Want to […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Captain-America-SamuelNick-Fury.jpg
How Samuel L. Jackson Learns His Lines for the Marvel Movies (video)
Samuel L. Jackson stopped by Good Morning America earlier this week to talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier – which is terrific, by the way – and he told Robin Roberts that for the first Cap film, he had trouble learning his lines. “I sat at home and I did all my studying, and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/andy-karl-margot-seibert-rocky.jpg
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert Talk ‘Rocky: The Musical’ on ‘Today’
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert, the stars of Rocky: The Musical, talked to Today‘s Matt Lauer about the new Broadway musical. Karl talks about the final fight and taking on the iconic role. This is Seibert’s Broadway debut and she’s asked about her callbacks (9 in all!) and more. Check it out!