Pin It

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

Latest Videos

The Cast of ‘Mad Men’ on the Final Season and More
Though the AMC television series Mad Men might not carry the same cultural weight that it did a few years ago (splitting your final season over two years might do that to you), the second half of the show’s final season is expected to be full of powerful performances from its ensemble cast. With the […]
Watch: Ron Perlman on His Father’s Influence on His Early Career
Ron Perlman is a prolific actor, and he has also lent his distinctive voice to a number of projects in film and television — including the new animated film The Book of Life. One of the reasons that Perlman works so hard is not only because he loves being an actor, but because of what […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/cate-blanchett-asks-graduating-s.jpg
Cate Blanchett Asks Graduating Students a Heavy Question: “What the hell can you do with an arts degree?”
“What the hell can you do with an arts degree?” Many actors ask themselves that when they find themselves struggling to make it in Hollywood while saddled with student loans. It was Cate Blanchett who posed that question recently to graduating students at Macquarie University in Sydney where she received an honorary doctorate degree. The […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/matthew-mcconaughey-rallies-his.jpg
Matthew McConaughey Rallies his Alma Mater Football Team to Victory with the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Chant
Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey delivered a different kind of speech two weeks ago when he spoke with the Texas Longhorns football team after their close 20-17 loss to UCLA. The moment was a bit odd, but hilarious at the same time. Coach Charlie Strong was the one who invited the Dallas Buyers Club star to inspire the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/watch-anna-gunn-reveals-her-awkw.jpg
Watch: Anna Gunn Reveals Her Awkward ‘Breaking Bad’ Audition Details
Though Breaking Bad was obviously a career highpoint for every actor involved, they all must move on to their next projects (except for the few who are involved in the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul). This includes Anna Gunn, who portrayed Walter White’s wife Skyler on the award-winning series series. Gunn’s new series, the […]