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Steve Guttenberg goes bad

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Steve Guttenberg goes bad (Photo courtesy of HBO/Jeff Daly)

Actor talks his villainous turn on HBO’s “Ballers”

The third season of HBO’s highly rated sports comedy-drama “Ballers” (airing Sundays at 10 p.m. following “Game of Thrones”) debuted with a new backdrop (Miami is out – Las Vegas and California are in) and some new characters, including Steve Guttenberg (“Police Academy,” “Three Men and a Baby”) as the villainous Wayne Hastings Jr.

“Wayne is a pretentious, self-involved, self-important guy who was born on third base but thinks he’s hit a triple,” Guttenberg told me of his character. “He’s a billionaire – the son of a trillionaire – who wants some action. Getting to play a villain is even more fun than you think it is.”

Guttenberg says he relishes the opportunity to play a heavy on the series, which follows the exploits of former NFL superstar Spencer Strasmore (played by Dwayne Johnson), a player who is still very much in the game, but is now mentoring and managing players while immersing himself in high-stakes business ventures.

“Dwayne, Rob Corrdry (as Joe Krutel) and Richard Schiff (as Mr. Anderson) have a company which is a business management company for athletes and they’re looking to expand,” Guttenberg says of his character’s role in the new season. “They’re looking for investors and they come to see me.”

Guttenberg says that the writers have come up with some unique twists and turns for the new season which will keep fans guessing.

“You’ll see that my character is not the easiest guy in the world to do business with. They’ve really come up with a knockout season and it is such a pleasure to be surrounded by these great actors, starting with Dwayne.” 

As the third season begins, Guttenberg explains, we find Spencer Strasmore with personal issues, business issues and client issues.

“At the same time, he’s trying to expand his business. You’ll also see plenty of beautiful women, handsome men, incredible locations and cars that are worth two or three million dollars.”

Working with Dwayne Johnson, according to Guttenberg, has been a remarkable experience, both personally and professionally.

“Dwayne is a sweet man and a thoughtful guy. He’s friendly and very well read. He’s a family guy and so am I. I’m not into making small talk and neither is Dwayne,” Guttenberg told me. “He’s kind of a raconteur and a wonderful storyteller with a huge heart. We’ve exchanged some very meaningful conversations about our families, which I really appreciate.”

“Our scenes together are fun to do because my character is always giving his character a hard time and that trading of barbs is a lot of fun,” Guttenberg continues. “Dwayne is talented, charismatic and he listens. That’s the key to a good actor. You need to listen.”

Working with Johnson on “Ballers,” Guttenberg says, has made him a better actor.

“Getting to practice your craft and get better at what you do should be the focus of every actor. You want to keep getting better every day and I feel that I’m getting better and I learn more every time I work with Dwayne.”

The primary reason for the show’s focus on new locations is connected with the cost of producing the series. California offered “Ballers” an $8.5 million tax incentive, which Florida was apparently unwilling to match.

The next episode of “Ballers,” scheduled for July 30 at 10 p.m., is titled “Bull Rush.”


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