Dudley suffers from a rare disorder combining symptoms of amnesia, dyslexia, and color-blindness with a highly acute sense of hearing.
June 13, 2012 3:52 PM   Subscribe

What happened to Dudley Heinsbergen? Stephen Lea Sheppard gained a cult following playing geek mentor Harris Trinksy on Freaks and Geeks. He followed that with his role as Dudley Heinsbergen in the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums. He never acted again.
posted by Karlos the Jackal (44 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
(I got this from Kate Beaton's Twitter, where she retweeted a tweet from @and_curiouser linking to the article.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:55 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


....I kinda want to buy him a beer, sounds like he'd be fun to drink with, c'mon LA Mefites make it happen.
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. Makes me want to watch Freaks and Geeks all over again.
posted by perhapses at 4:13 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Paul Feig in Part 1 of a great series walking through the whole run of Freaks and Geeks (excerpted in the linked article):
All the people in our show were cast that way. That’s the way Rogen was, and that’s also where we found Harris, Stephen Lea Sheppard. After the people that were preordained by the casting people, we were like, “Okay, let’s start reading everybody.” I was very democratic, me having been an actor for so long. “Everyone’s going to get a chance to read!” Well, about 10 people in, they’re all terrible, we were like, “Okay, we can’t do this. We’re going to kill ourselves.” So I had to do the thing that I know is the worst thing for a former actor to do: Go out and walk through the hall and pick people out who look interesting. Which is terrible, because who knows, we could be missing a gem, but I just couldn’t take it. We didn’t have enough time. So I walked around, and all these people were there, looking at me. And I walk into this one room, and it’s packed with kids, and I’m like, “Uh, forget it,” and I walk out. And I was like, “Wait a minute,” and I walk back in. Something stuck in my head.

This long-black-haired kid was in the corner reading a fantasy book or something. He had such an interesting look. It turns out he was there with a friend of his, he just came along. I was like, “Do you want to come in and read?” We gave him the freak speech, and he just did it in his inimitable way, just kind of tossing it off. And it was another moment of like, “Holy shit, I don’t know what to do with this kid, but we got to put him in the show somehow.” I remember Judd goes, “All I know is, his name has to be Harris.” He got really hung up on that. So we invented the geek-guru part for him. And flashing forward for just a sec, he was always supposed to be the kid in the fight with Alan White, when the kids get into a fight with him, but we couldn’t get his immigration set when we had to shoot that scene. That’s why the other kid is in, who did a great job, but it was always supposed to be Lea Sheppard.
posted by dfan at 4:14 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whelk, he lives in Surrey. I'd buy him a beer but he'd have to come downtown because no one wants to drink in Surrey.
posted by Hoopo at 4:17 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. Makes me want to watch Freaks and Geeks all over again.

Any reason is a good one.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:17 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


His performances as Harris are really things of incredible beauty.
posted by escabeche at 4:18 PM on June 13, 2012


He would be at home in a Todd Solondz movie.
posted by timsneezed at 4:25 PM on June 13, 2012


As mentioned briefly in the article, he writes about video games for Vice. I haven't picked up an issue in a few years, but when last I did I remember his pieces being a standout among that mess.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:36 PM on June 13, 2012


He was born in 1983. He is not even thirty years old yet. Isn't there something weirdly final about saying that "he never acted again"? Maybe he "has not acted since", or "has not been acting lately", or "has moved on to a second career", but "never acted again" makes it sound like he's already dead.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:36 PM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh man, awesome. I always loved his character on F&G but never really thought much about the actor behind the role.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:38 PM on June 13, 2012


He's one year older than me, I'd like to think he's not over and done with yet. Get on it LA Mefites, Operation Drink at Dudley.
posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


He must've really bombed those auditions because chances are they just wanted him to play himself.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:40 PM on June 13, 2012


I've interacted with him on and off for years in tabletop RPG circles. He's a nice guy. I have no idea how accurate the article's vibe is with him because according to MacLeans, being in popular media and going on to live like a Mere Peasant is pretty much unthinkable. And fuck that attitude.

So I basically hope Lea gets some material benefit out of this coverage.
posted by mobunited at 4:45 PM on June 13, 2012


He also as a LiveJournal account, though he doesn't post often.
posted by fings at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2012


If you have the Freaks and Geeks DVDs he's in a few of the commentaries, most notably in "Discos and Dragons" where we learn he was instrumental in making sure they got the details of D&D right.
posted by wobh at 5:02 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surrey is not a suburb of LA, Whelk.

Surrey is a suburb of hell.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nah, joking, I love and miss Vancouver. But It Is Required to make fun of Surrey.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


He used to be reasonably active in alt.religion.kibology, even at the time when Tennenbaums was coming out. I kinda wondered what happened after that.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:26 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


His performances as Harris are really things of incredible beauty.

It's really nice. Watch that first clip, when he tells Daniel "today is the first day of the rest of your life," and then he makes this little noise/face like he knows it's a cliche and goofy and he feels a little dumb for saying it but he still said it because it's true. Really, watch that moment again. That is a very good, very real moment.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:28 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


How interesting...how bizarre!
posted by rhizome at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've checked out his IMDB profile before and noticed that he hadn't done anything since The Royal Tenenbaums. I just figured he wasn't interested in pursuing an acting career, especially having heard the story about him being cast in F&G without really even intending on auditioning. Kind of sad to read that it has more to due with difficulty finding work (particularly considering the skyrocketing careers of many of his F&G costars).
posted by The Gooch at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2012


Sadly, it appears the actor who played one of my other favorite F&G recurring characters, Gordon Crisp hasn't worked in close to a decade either.
posted by The Gooch at 5:58 PM on June 13, 2012


I would like to thank the duck by the oboe for introducing me to kibology and, by extension, the term "wackyparse".

ooh baby baby its a while twirled?
posted by mean square error at 6:31 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jerry Messing seems to have been in a video for some pop starlet that I've never heard of.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:51 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would like to thank the duck by the oboe for introducing me to kibology and, by extension, the term "wackyparse".

"Mondegreen"?
posted by Nomyte at 7:55 PM on June 13, 2012


Surrey is a suburb of hell.

to be clear, Surrey is a suburb of Vancouver, which isn't hell. I'm there right now and if anything it's kind of cool this evening. But Surrey itself might be hell. I did see a skytrain full of people go there once and never return. I was lucky enough to get off in New Westminster.
posted by philip-random at 8:06 PM on June 13, 2012


He used to be reasonably active in alt.religion.kibology, even at the time when Tennenbaums was coming out. I kinda wondered what happened after that.

That's right! I remember that now, I think. Weird.
posted by kenko at 8:08 PM on June 13, 2012


He's one of the more active moderators on rpg.net, and contributed to some White Wolf books. Contrary to the article's presentation of him as a near-depressive, his online presentation is pretty cheery and helpful.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:29 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


to be clear, Surrey is a suburb of Vancouver, which isn't hell.

As I tried to make clear in my very next comment, but I didn't actually draw the dotted line, I admit. Also, much as I love it, I still think Vancouver is a special kind of cold wet hell in the winter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:59 PM on June 13, 2012


to be clear, Surrey is a suburb of Vancouver, which isn't hell.

I beg to differ, and I also apologize for the slight derail.

And please, someone tell June we're all real impressed with it's November imitation but could it go back to being all nice and sunny and stuff, like it damn well knows it should?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:49 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reason all those other Freaks & Geeks alumni are stars is because Judd Apatow kept casting them in his movies and shows until their careers took off. He needs to step up to the plate once again for Stephen Lea Sheppard. Both Marnie and Shoshanna need a boyfriend!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:54 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Both Marnie and Shoshanna need a boyfriend!

You obvs haven't seen the prev for next week's ep.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:10 AM on June 14, 2012


Sadly, it appears the actor who played one of my other favorite F&G recurring characters, Gordon Crisp hasn't worked in close to a decade either.

Don't you mean William Van Landingham!
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:41 AM on June 14, 2012


Hi, all. Yes, this is me. See my LJ link helpfully provided by fings, above, for verification.

Uh, yeah. I like how the article turned out, because seriously screw bullying, but it's inaccurate in that it focuses overmuch on who I might have turned into if I hadn't done Freaks & Geeks. In person and online I'm much more up than this piece would lead you to believe.
posted by Stephenls at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [68 favorites]


Hey, Stephen! Loved your performances in both. Glad to see you here.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:01 AM on June 14, 2012


Welcome to Metafilter Stephenls!
You should probably know that this is here, also.
posted by chococat at 9:38 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, Stephen, and welcome. Sorry for dissing Surrey, man. Force of habit.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:55 PM on June 14, 2012


As someone living in Surrey, I can't argue with those disses.
posted by Stephenls at 4:05 PM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've interacted with him on and off for years in tabletop RPG circles. He's a nice guy. I have no idea how accurate the article's vibe is with him because according to MacLeans, being in popular media and going on to live like a Mere Peasant is pretty much unthinkable. And fuck that attitude.

So I basically hope Lea gets some material benefit out of this coverage.
posted by mobunited at 1:45 PM on June 13 [+] [!]


Ha. I thought the nick looked familiar.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:18 PM on June 14, 2012


...but it's inaccurate in that it focuses overmuch on who I might have turned into if I hadn't done Freaks & Geeks.

This doesn't much surprise me... The storyline (that the author explicitly spells out) of the child actor who is "saved" by his early exposure to fame rather than (in the typical cliché) ruined by it was probably a little too tempting to resist. Real lives, on the other hand, are never so patly narrative.

Interesting nevertheless and I'm looking forward to checking out the gaming journalism. I hope the new exposure leads to some opportunities.
posted by nanojath at 4:41 PM on June 14, 2012


I'm from Surry. Well, sort of - lived there from age 5 to end of primary school.

It's quite incredible, the transformation that I witnessed there from the time I first arrived to going back and seeing it now.

When my family moved in we were the first owners of a smallish home in a brand new development, encroaching on abandoned farmland. There was an old farmhouse that me and my friends were spooked by just 10 minutes from my place. We were all white, aspirational and highly mobile lower middle class families, movin' on up.

When I was in grade 3 or 4 we started experiencing "the others" - just a small trickle of little Sikh kids at our school. The boys with "bubbleheads" (little kerchiefs on their heads, prior to graduating to the adult turbans) and girls with names that always seemed to end in -winder: Jalwinder, Ballwinder, Jazwinder. The amount of outright old school racism I saw was pretty incredible, and thinking how much things have changed since then...

I've heard that Surrey is now the biggest Sikh city outside of the Punjab. When I go back to where I grew up it is rare to find a white face on that street, all Sikhs now. And fully developed, there isn't a lot that isn't packed in with wilting old strata condos. The little strip mall I used to go to at the end of my block is now Indian sari shops and Indian food markets. Strange how quickly things can change.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:14 PM on June 14, 2012


From the article: At one point, she brought him to a birthday party on the wrong day.
Yeah, as a dad, I've done this. It made me grin to read it.

And I think the great love some of us have for Harris is that he was the geek we wanted to be (or wish we would have/could have been) whereas some of the other characters more accurately represent the geeks we actually were (and are).

And welcome, Stephenls.
posted by Seamus at 9:25 PM on June 14, 2012


Further to Meatbomb's comment, I'd like to point out that the "Surrey sucks" jokes precede the non-white influx. I remember stand-up comics making fun of it in the mid-70s, and it likely preceded that. Also from the 70s, this nugget:

Living in Richmond means never having to say you're Surrey.

My point being, anti-Surrey sentiment is not racist, just anti-suburb. Which isn't to say that I thought Meatbomb was trying to make the racism-correlation. I can just see how it might be read that way.
posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on June 15, 2012


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