As the year-in kudos machine cranks up for 2015, it’s cool once again to see New Orleans native and Jesuit High graduate Steve Zissis to continue getting the recognition and success he’s due. Variety on Wednesday called Steve Zissis’ turn in HBO’s comedy-drama “Togetherness” as a struggling, overweight Hollywood actor one of the “Breakout TV Performances of 2015.”
Wrote co-authors Maureen Ryan and Brian Lowry:
Another indie-flavored half-hour show about moderately miserable people in a coastal city? You’d be forgiven if deflation was your reaction to the one-sentence description of “Togetherness,” but skipping this HBO show would have meant missing out on Zissis’ fantastic performance. His shaggy character was an everyman actor who was sure his time had passed, but the quiet passion and wily subversiveness he brought to the role were beyond impressive. In a cast full of capable actors with higher profiles, Zissis’ versatility, skill and warmth easily stood out.
A lot of the credit, naturally, goes to Zissis’ keen ability as an actor to mine the emotional and comedic possibilities of what some might dismiss as a stock comic foil. But then there’s the obvious reason: He’s a co-creator along with fellow New Orleanians (and Jesuit grads) Jay and Mark Duplass, who teamed with Mount Carmel grad Stephanie Langhoff, who runs Duplass Brothers Productions. Check out TV columnist Dave Walker’s coverage here. As Zissis told Walker:
I think an open story was part of the plan, but that was what was new about TV for them. In feature films, obviously you have to wrap everything up in a bow in an hour and a half, which is challenging. And I know that Jay and Mark loved being able to tell an open-ended story. I think in some ways it’s also allowing them to go deeper into character study than what you can maybe do in an hour and a half. I think these are probably the most complex characters they may have created so far. It may just be because, by the virtue that it is an open-ended story, you get to live with them longer. They’re loving it.
Zissis is in very talented company, including personal favorites Titus Burgess in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Krysten Ritter in “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” — both on Netflix. You can hear more of Zissis jib-jabbing with awesome co-star Amanda Peet below. Season 2 is currently underway.