Eric Bogosian loves to play the villian -- The actor talks about his latest role in "Under Siege 2" and his belief in magic

By Bruce Fretts
Updated December 09, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

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Eric Bogosian has long been viewed by Hollywood as an Off Broadway darling who’s never quite crossed over into mainstream stardom. Best known for the art-film adaptations of his high-testosterone, rant-driven stage shows Talk Radio and Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Bogosian, 41, hopes to reach a broader audience with nefarious turns in a pair of high-profile projects. First up is HBO’s Witch Hunt, in which he plays a Nixon-esque senator investigating black magic in 1950s Hollywood. ”I’ve always wondered why Eric didn’t get more shots at film,” says Hunt director Paul Schrader. ”A couple years ago, Warner Bros. asked me to do a film, and I recommended Eric for it. That was the last I heard from them.” Apparently, Warners changed its corporate mind: Bogosian plays a nutso scientist who hijacks a train in the studio’s Steven Seagal sequel Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, due next year. EW sat down with the budding bad guy in his lower Manhattan studio to discuss politics, magic, and Saturday Night Live:

Have you ever considered running for office? I’ve certainly thought about it. I’m good at making speeches, but I’m afraid my past is too dark. Let’s put it this way — I inhaled.

Do you believe in magic? Sure. We’re moving toward a world where the magic gets removed more and more. There’s a general notion about how we’re supposed to run our lives, which involves a Mr. Coffee machine, the key in the ignition of your car every morning at 8 a.m., a shopping mall, quality time with your kids, and maybe some Seinfeld for relaxation. And that sounds really, really depressing to me. I’d much rather try and find out where the magical parts of my life are.

Why did you decide to play another villain in Under Siege 2? I’ve always been attracted to roles like Iago and Cassius — they’re so bad, you don’t even know why they’re bad. In the 20th century, we have to know why everybody’s bad: He hit his thumb with a hammer when he was 5, so now he’s getting back at the world — I don’t really care about that. I love characters who are just bad. I’ve been hankering for this sort of thing for a while, and then the script showed up and it was like, ”Oh, this is great! This guy is completely psychotic!”

Are you and Seagal hitting it off? That’s one way of putting it. No, he’s a lot of fun. Like the other day the caterer didn’t bake his potato enough, so he killed him.

What did you think of SNL’s recent ”Monsters of Monologue” skit parodying you and Spalding Gray? That was great! Actually, I was a little depressed at first because I thought, ”Oh, I’m just some big joke!” Then I thought, ”Well, it’s flattering to think somebody’s going to that much trouble.” I swear nobody knows what the hell that bit was about. I’m sure out in Ohio they have no idea.

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Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

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  • 99 minutes