Eric Petersen can currently be seen starring as Kevin McRoberts in the new series Kevin Can F**K Himself. The dark comedy is the latest offering from AMC and also stars Annie Murphy, Alex Bonifer, Mary Hollis Inboden, Brian Howe, and Raymond Lee. Setting itself apart from other sitcoms, Kevin Can F**K Himself alternates between a conventional multi-camera sitcom and a single camera drama.
We had the opportunity to chat with Eric Petersen about what viewers can expect from the show, his inspiration behind his character Kevin, what he hopes viewers will take away from the series, and his hopes for the return of Broadway.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Eric Petersen below:
Thank you so much for chatting with me today!
Fantastic! Thanks for chatting with me! I’m happy to talk about the show.
Can you talk a little about your character Kevin and what viewers can expect from him?
He is Kevin McRoberts. He is a Boston guy who is basically the stereotypical sitcom schlubby husband. He lives a life of joy and hijinks. Basically, he is the center of his own universe. Everyone around him, he views only as basically a means to furthering whatever he’s trying to get at the moment. He’s a selfish self-centered guy who I think can be fun and funny… but he definitely is that classic schlubby husband with the hot wife who is always getting into hair-brained schemes.
What the show hopefully does is shows that that guy who we’ve known and loved and laughed at for years on television, if we really look at some of his actions, I think it will cause, hopefully a lot of viewers, to wonder what have we been laughing at for the last 50 years?
Kevin Can F**K Himself is considered a dark comedy. It certainly seems to be setting itself apart. I think a big part of that is that it seems to be shattering those boundaries and stereotypes. Was that part of what attracted you to the role to begin with?
Definitely. I was so excited. I am a huge fan of multi-cam sitcoms. I’m sort of a student of them. I love performing in multi-cam but I am also just a huge fan of watching old sitcoms that are multi-cam. Any time I get to audition for something that’s in that world, I’m excited. The fact that this was essentially going to take that whole artform and put it on its head and shake it about was really exiting for me. It’s not often that you get to be a part of a show that really feels groundbreaking. I think that this one is.
What I enjoyed most is how they blend that bright and comical with the transitions to the darker reality. What did you enjoy most about filming the episodes like that?
It was really cool. We would do all of the multi-cam scenes together over 2 or 3 days. Then they would take 2 weeks to shoot the single camera scenes. It was kind of an in and out feeling for me. Almost everything that I do is in the multi-cam world. There’s obviously a few moments where I show up in her fantasy ideas about what her husband can be. [laughs] That was shot single cam. It was great.
I always felt that the person handling the heavy lifting obviously was Annie Murphy and Mary Hollis Inboden who play Allison and Patty, because they are jumping between both worlds. At least for me, and Alex Bonifer who plays my best friend Neil and Brian Howe who plays Pete, my dad, we were only in the multi-cam world. We didn’t have to switch styles between the two which is a really big ask for actors to do. But I think our leading ladies just crushed it and were able to give that broad multi-cam feel when we were doing those scenes and then give the total honest reality and deep acting stuff in the single camera stuff.
Would you say that you had to do anything special to prepare for your role or get into that mindset? Were there any older shows that you drew your inspiration from?
Definitely. The form, I don’t think I needed to brush up on. That was in my wheelhouse. I would say that the inspirations for the character were… I always thought of him as a combination between Ralph Kramden from The Honeymoooners played by Jackie Gleason and Peter Griffin from Family Guy. If you combined those two people that’s who Kevin McRoberts is. And maybe a dash of Archie Bunker from All In The Family.
That’s a great mash-up. What can you tease about what you’re most looking forward to the viewers seeing?
I’m so excited for people to view the transitions between multi-cam to single cam. I think that it’s gonna be really cool to see how that viscerally affects people. Obviously the show does it repeatedly and every time that I see them I’m like “Oh my gosh.” It’s so jarring in a great way. I’m really excited to see how that affects people and how different ages will take that in. Some of our older viewers who were raised on multi-cam sitcoms maybe more than some younger people have been, I’m excited to see if they enjoy the switching back and forth. I’m excited to see people’s reaction to this new way of storytelling.
I know you also have a background in theater which is very exciting for me, as a theater nerd. The timing of this interview is really funny because we just ended up watching Shrek the Musical this weekend. Kevin Can F**k Himself is very different from that. Is there anything that you prefer about working on stage versus working on a television series?
Well I love both. I really honestly do. I came up in the theater so I think that will always be my first love. What’s great about doing Kevin Can F**k Himself is that because we weren’t able to have a full live studio audience because of Covid, we had a group of 12 to 15 “laughers”. They would come in and watch the episodes to give us actual response to the jokes.
To your question of what do I love about the stage, I think the instant gratification, especially when doing a comedy, of telling a joke and hearing it land. It can’t be overstated how intoxicating that is, to really get an audience going and to ride that wave of comedy. So, I love that part of doing stuff on the stage.
Are you excited at the prospect of Broadway opening up again? Would you ever consider a return to the stage?
I’m super excited that Broadway is opening back up. Obviously I’m a huge Broadway fan and have done 4 Broadway shows myself. All of my friends in New York are almost all Broadway actors so I’m excited for my friends to go back to work after this very long and hard year. I’m excited that Broadway has a newfound and hopefully long lasting introspective look at itself. Like, hey maybe some of the practices of how we’ve been doing business can be better and can be more inclusive and more equity for everybody involved. I’m excited to see where all of that goes for the industry.
In regards to going back, I am always willing to go back to Broadway. I hope and pray that I will do many more Broadway shows in my career.
Are there any productions or dream roles you would love to be a part of?
There definitely were roles when I was younger that I wanted to play but now having created characters, I always say my dream role hasn’t been written yet. It’s something that I’ll be able to collaborate with some writers and directors on. Doing original work is the most exciting thing for me at this point.
That means the sky’s the limit for you.
Thank you so much to Eric Petersen for taking the time to speak with us!
Tune in to Kevin Can F**k Himself airing on AMC.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.