Randy J Klodz
You know Stephanie Niznik as Nina Feeney, the sexy girl-next-door from the now-defunct family-friendly TV drama Everwood. Or maybe you donít. Read on!
Stephanie phoned SOAK from Utah amid trying to sell her home and gave us the skinny on everything from sex toys to, uh, Scott Wolf?
SOAK: How are you taking the end of the series Everwood?
Stephanie Niznik: Iím actually pretty broken-hearted. I really loved it. It was a really great show and what do you say when you say goodbye to something you love? It was four great years of fabulous writing and a great cast, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Iím glad I had it. I donít think itís the last Iíll have, but itís certainly very special.
SOAK: The show must have such a huge base of fans.
Stephanie: Whatís funny is that Iíve done a lot of different projects and every different project has a different fan base. And I have to say that the Everwood fans, by far, are the best fans ever, because they tend to be really intelligent. A lot of times, itís the momís who stop me and thank me. Theyíre all happy and proud because they like the show, and theyíre like, ĎYou know, it brings up topics we can discuss with our kids, and thanks so much for doing the show.í And itís great to be part of something like that. I donít really understand the powers that be not picking us up, but so be it. We went out with a bang, what can I say?
SOAK: So youíre from Bangor, Maine?
Stephanie: I sure am.
SOAK: So youíre going out with a bang from Bangor?
Stephanie: [laughs] Oh gosh, yes. I am! [laughs]
SOAK: Iím sure youíve heard every single thing in the book about the name of your hometown.
Stephanie: Absolutely. Me and Stephen King. I think weíre the only two who have come out of Bangor so far.
SOAK: Although the show was a hit, some people might not be that familiar with the show.
Stephanie: I will admit, most of our fansÖyou know, strangely, I do a lot of cross-country driving because I like to drive. A couple times, Iíd be at truck stops and these big, huge truckers would come over and say, [she does her best big-guy voice] ĎHey, I know you, I love your show.í So it was a pretty broad spectrum of who would watch the show.
SOAK: Although Everwood is in the past, what was your favorite part of being a part of the cast?
Stephanie: The thing I liked the most about Everwood is that almost everybody on the cast came from theater. And the creator of the show, Greg Berlanti, is a writer. He was adamant that writers be treated well on our show. And it really paid off because every time that I got a script, it was a one-act play. The chance to work on material that held up, that you wanted to read, even when it wasnít about your character; that was a pure joy. It was four years of truly feeling and being given the chance to be an artist, and that was a gift. And also, just being in Utahóthat just rocked. Just to take a little step away from Hollywood, which is great, but Utah, youíre sort of isolated in a little bubble and you just did your work and hiked in the mountains.
SOAK: It seems most filming is done in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Malibu, and other tropical places, but you were in Salt Lake City. Thatís great you were able to enjoy it.
Stephanie: Being from Maine, Iím not a real clubber so I fit right in. [laughs] It was pretty special. And it really is a different culture because it really is in Salt Lake. Itís a whole different speed than LA or New York or any other major city. Itís a very unique town. To my understanding, it was founded by Mormons, and itís the best organized town I have ever been in. You have the temple and all the streets radiate from the temple and are appropriately named in so far as how they relate to the temple, so itís all east and west. There were strong family values there and interesting people. I was worried until I got there and then I thought it was great. Then thereís Park City, which is always, and will always be Sin City [laughs].
SOAK: Iím not going to say the cast of Everwood is Motley CrŁe, but what was it like working in a dry city?
Stephanie: You get used to it. There are a lot of little rules you donít understand right away, like you canít have two drinks on a table at any time in any restaurant.
SOAK: What if you have two Sprites?
Stephanie: You can have all the Sprite you want [laughs]. But as for alcoholic drinks, from what I understand, you have to finish your drink before another one comes on the tableóyou canít have a sidecar. So itís interesting. You get used to it and then you kind of learn to drink at home. [laughs]
SOAK: Itís cheaper that way, too.
Stephanie: Itís definitely cheaper. Although, I think it has been getting a little more lenient lately. I think itís only like 50-percent Mormon now.
SOAK: They must have all thought, ĎHey Karl Malone didnít want to stick around, so maybe we shouldnít either.í
SOAK: Momís would often approach you in public and tell you that it was good they could now have topics they could discuss with their kids. What kind of things did they ask you about?
Stephanie: Abortion. Drugs. InfidelityÖalthough my character was very definitely the woman next door, I seemed to have a lot of sexual paraphernalia hanging around the house like pornography and dildos that my next door neighborís daughter kept finding. We dealt with that kind of stuff. But the thing I loved about Everwood was that essentially, there were two approaches [she pauses as a plane flew overhead and says, ĎI seem to be over the flight pattern of the LA airport. This is a pink and white plane, I donít even want to guess who that isí], you have the adult take on a situation and the teenís take on the situation. The thing that I liked was that it gave weight to both sides of the argument. Sometimes the kids are wrong, and sometimes the adults are wrong. Sometimes both. Everybody on the show made right and wrong decisions. But more often than not they made noble decisions.
SOAK: So you guys had plenty of those sappy, aw-shucks Danny Tanner/Full House moments?
Stephanie: Nah. We didnít have too many of those. [laughs] It wasnít too horrible. It was real family life.
SOAK: Was it ever uncomfortable talking to fans about abortion and other controversial issues?
Stephanie: Yeah. Of course it was. Itís a delicate topic, you know, there are a lot of different takes on the situation. As an actor, I make sure I agree with what my character is saying. I have to, or I canít act it. Occasionally, I got scripts where I thought, ĎWow, how in the world am I going to believe that?Ē and I find a way. But overall, the Everwood fans are great people. I was just so honored they watched my show.
SOAK: People really think the actor is really that character in real life?
Stephanie: Well, they do. I used to give life advice all the time. In fact, I have friends, doctors and lawyers, who would tell me what to do. I was like, ĎYou do realize, of course, this is a television show.í So I got a lot of helpful hints, from even my close friends and family, which was kind of disconcerting, but whatever. [laughs]
SOAK: Is Nina Feeney like how you are in real life?
Stephanie: Yes. Itís funny because, until Everwood, a lot of my characters have been extremistsóyou know very sexy or very tough or very strong. And Nina is very much the woman next door; sheís pretty grounded. Sheís relatively sane and wise. The only difference between her and I really is that she tends to say the right thing at the right moment, where Iím always kicking myself the next day saying, ĎWhy didnít I say that?í She comes up with it, but I guess itís because she had a little help with writers.
SOAK: What about all the sexual paraphernalia?
Stephanie: It was sort of hidden. She was as shocked as the kids who found it. Itís stuff in her attic, and they were cleaning out the attic and they found her husbandís old Playboy magazines and stuff. She was a big fan of addressing an issue at hand.
SOAK: What was Ninaís overall role?
Stephanie: The whole big thing with my character was which guy she was going to pick. At the very end, I picked Dr. Brown. It is exactly where I always hoped the character would go. So I am pleased that we ended on that note. It was the big question: Would I be with Scott Wolf or would I be with Treat Williams?
SOAK: Whoa, Scott Wolf! Of Party of Five fame?
Stephanie: Yeah. On the show he was my live-in lover for two years.
SOAK: What was that like working with Scott Wolf? A lot people must think of him as a self-centered teen heartthrob?
Stephanie: Scott Wolf is a prince among men. I adore him. I have to admit it, it took me a few weeks to really realize that he was as nice as he seemed. Sometimes you meet people and you think, ĎAre they really that nice?í He is. And his wife is so amazing and just watching those two together; it makes you believe in true love.
Stephanie: I mean the poor guy. He looks so much younger than he is. I think heís finally coming into manhood on celluloid. Heís such a great guy.
SOAK: It has to be a surprise when that happens.
Stephanie: Itís a good surprise though, isnít it? Iím not going to name names, but sometimes youíre shooting movies with people and you realize they really were acting those nice characters.