Hailing from Texas, actor Stephen Ellis is a rising actor recently tabbed by Whatculture as number six of the “10 Rising Actors Who Could be the Next Big Thing.” With a career spanning from stage to screen and indie to feature film, Ellis’ range and dedication to the craft set him apart.
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Sean Ritchie: Where are you initially from? Describe a little bit about it? What stands out to you?
Stephen Ellis: I’m originally from Fort Worth, Texas – grew up there. I moved away when I went to college in Ohio – Kenyon College. Since I graduated college I haven’t lived there. My parents moved to Houston and to Dallas, which is close. It’s really not my home anymore, but I grew up there for the first 18 years of my life. It’s a great, amazing big city, but a small town in the same. It’s rich with culture. I got turned on to acting by going to the local community theaters there. It was just great. Have you ever been to Texas?
Photo courtesy | Brandi Korte
SR: Not yet, but we’re actually covering South by Southwest this year so we’ll be heading down to Austin for that.
SE: Oh yeah, Austin is amazing as well. Fort Worth, where I’m from, has amazing barbeque, which is what our family’s main business is. I took that from my grandad and have been doing it for a long time. Whenever I come home to Texas I have to try all the new spots. We’re heavy carnivores in our family, which is maybe not too characteristic of life in [Los Angeles]. We like to eat a lot of meat.
SR: When it comes to travel, what kind of traveler are you? Are you more relaxed on a beach, or active looking for adventure?
SE: You know I think it depends upon where I am in my life, where I am at work. I love nothing more than going to a beach or a beach town, turning the phone off and just listen to the waves crash. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do that on a regular basis living in LA and when I was in New York I had no opportunity to do that. I do love to do that and I just love to kind of turn off. I got to spend a few weeks in Italy this summer, in a small town in Chianti. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done – small, rustic. It was like a cartoon. That’s kind of my ideal vacation to be honest.
SR: That’s wine country, right?
SE: Yeah, Tuscany. It was amazing. We did a gelato tasting. You get on a bike, go downhill and you don’t have to petal. You just go through the wine country and taste gelatos. It’s homemade too, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll probably never get to do again. It was awesome. I would say in a nutshell that I’m a lazy traveler. Go to restaurants, taste food, have good music and just kind of chill out.
Photo courtesy | Vanessa C.
SR: You said that you traveled a lot between NY and LA. What are the real differences in your eyes between the two, besides the topography and location of the cities? More the overall feel of the cities.
SE: Well, New York and LA are like apples and oranges. There’s just no comparison. NY has a culture and energy that’s so intense you don’t stop. Which is great, but it’s also kind of exhausting. LA is a bit more mellow. People across the country think it’s a high pace city, but compared to NY it’s like asleep. In NY you come across every walk of life on a daily basis. You’ll ride subways with millionaires, bankers and homeless people. You experience culture and that’s harder to do in LA. There’s different neighborhoods, and the rich and the poor are a lot of times segregated. The one thing that LA has that trumps NY are the beautiful beaches, warm weather and the palm trees. I love both equally.
Photo courtesy | Chris Goldberg
SR: I wanted to touch on Sundance. You just came back from it? How long were you there?
SE: I was there for about six days. Not start-to-finish, but I was there for a large portion of the festival. My film played four times throughout the week. I wanted to kind of be there to support the film and to see a lot of the other movies. I had a lot of actor friends that were there. It was a great way to kind of connect. I got to see people I hadn’t seen in a while. It was an amazing experience.
SR: I saw your clip from “A Reasonable Request”. Is that the film that was playing? I was laughing when I saw the clip.
SE: Yes! Were you really? Ok good. We were so shocked, amazed and surprised at how well people are enjoying it. My one concern was please do not let me dad see this film. They have enough concerns about me and my career. It was released online and it went kind of viral. Eventually my dad did see it. He had a good sense of humor about it. I really appreciated that. My mom hates it. My dad said, “One, I would never do it. Two. I wouldn’t take less than 70 percent.” It was a great concept and a challenge for us to do. We’ve all played the game “what would you do for X dollars”, but it’s different when there’s money on the table.
Photo courtesy | Chris Goldberg
SR: That’s great! So, kind of describe Utah while you were there. Did you get to see anything outside of the festival?
SE: Yeah, it was so amazing. I was coming from LA and we actually drove up. I wanted to drive up. It’s about 10 hours. I drove up with my director. It was an amazing drive. Once you get to Utah you have more snow and more snow. I love the mountains and the nature. I love to ski, but I didn’t get a chance to do that, which is a shame. It was really cool.
SR: Yeah, I’ve had friends ski and snowboard over there and they said it’s an absolutely amazing destination for that. It’s definitely a spot I want to hit.
SE: Yeah, I had an Uber driver pick me up and I was kind of like, “Oh man, it’s snowing.” He’s like, “Screw you, it’s Park City, Utah, this is the city of snow. This isn’t California boy.” Then I had a friend of mine go out and snowboard and he said it was the 15th best day of his life. He’s a huge snowboarder and said the snow was amazing.
Photo courtesy | Matthew Kehoe
SR: Everyone has a list of destinations that they still have to hit. What are some on yours? Why?
SE: I would say, off the top of my head, I want to go to Ireland. My family, originally, the ancestors, are from there. I would love to go to Ireland. I just a fascination with [the country] for some reason. I would love to go to Greece. I don’t know if I really want to go to Germany, but I’ve never been there and I heard it’s cool. I’ve never been to Amsterdam either. That would be kind of cool. If the acting ever fails I would love to do a travel show going around the world eating food. I think that would be pretty amazing.
SR: Lastly, when’s the next trip and what for?
SE: After March I’ll be going back to NY for a bit. Then, hopefully this summer, I’ll get to culture-up somewhere. I’m not really sure. I haven’t really thought about it.
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For more on Stephen Ellis and his latest work visit his website: