Eric Lange ‘I Went to a Makeup Store and Bought Some Austin Pow­ers Teeth’

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Eric Lange has logged decades of cred­its, in­clud­ing roles in “LOST,”“CSI: NY” and “Weeds,” but he says his fa­vorite role is in Show­time’s “Es­cape at Dan­nemora,” which bows Nov. 18. Lange plays Lyle Mitchell, hus­band of the real-life woman who aided two in­mates in their es­cape from the Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity in Dan­nemora, N.Y.“IT was such a transformation that I wasn’t Eric in any sense,” Lange says.

In “Es­cape at Dan­nemora,” you’re play­ing a real per­son. Did you meet him?

His take on the whole thing is that the me­dia ru­ined his fam­ily’s life. We did due dili­gence and asked to talk, but he didn’t want to, and I re­spect that. When you’re play­ing a real per­son and you meet them, some­times there’s an ex­pec­ta­tion that you’re go­ing to [get guid­ance about] how they would like to see them­selves. What I see as the truth of some­one isn’t what they would like to see, nec­es­sar­ily. So it freed me.

What kind of transformation did you un­dergo?

It was def­i­nitely a stretch. I’m a char­ac­ter ac­tor, so your goal is al­ways to be a chameleon. I spent a cou­ple weeks try­ing to get his voice. Then I sent the video to a voice teacher of mine in col­lege, and he said, “Look at the way his teeth work; his tongue is hit­ting the back of his teeth in a cer­tain way.” So I went to a makeup store and bought some fake teeth that were ac­tu­ally Austin Pow­ers teeth, and I put them in and I started talk­ing and it was like, there it is — that’s it. [Di­rec­tor Ben Stiller] called a month be­fore we started shoot­ing and was like, “Could you gain some weight?” So I ended up gain­ing 40 pounds in about two months.

Do you worry about what Lyle will think if he watches it?

I don’t know how he’ll feel; we tried to give him dig­nity. He loves his wife end­lessly; he’s grate­ful to have his job. And I think he comes off as sort of the emotional cen­ter of the show. Ev­ery­one else is try­ing to get out of some­thing, to get some­where else, to be some­one else. Lyle’s the only per­son who’s not do­ing that, who’s steadfast in what he’s carved out for him­self.

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