North Shore Magazine has a brief Q&A session with Billy.
CSI star William Petersen comes home to Chicago to star in Dublin Carol at Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., through Dec. 21. – Interview by Michael Austin.
What’s Dublin Carol about?
Well, it’s a little Christmas play about an Irish alcoholic on Christmas Eve in a funeral parlor in Dublin. I think it’s a perfect antidote to these perky little Christmas plays that we are all tired of. To me it’s a look at how two-thirds of the world has to deal with Christmas. All those people who don’t have three kids gathered around the tree with a batch of presents. I think it’s a realistic view of how lonely Christmas can be. But there’s a lot of hope in it. It’s funny, touching. It’s a great hour and a half in the theater. It eventually puts people closer to what Christmas really should be.
OK, your near-death experience. It’s the 1980s and you’re doing a play in Chicago and your finger accidentally gets cut off.
I didn’t cut it off. But I did cut it pretty bad. And I had to go to the hospital. They sewed me up. I had gone out. Literally, my pulse and all of that had sort of disappeared. While I was out I was sort of on the road to the other side. I don’t think I would have died, but whatever happened to me, whatever sort of plane I went to after I passed out, was certainly part of the other side.
Is that experience still clear in your mind?
Oh, yeah, it’s clear. I sometimes talk to people about it if it’s the right place or right time and I can help them. If we’re talking about the afterlife. I was on an escalator, but it was flat, like in All That Jazz, and I was in a dark tunnel, just passing through, and there was a big light at the end of it. And there was a great desire to get to the light. I could tell it was a great, great place. Full of love and peace and crap like that. You know, postcard stuff. And I do remember very distinctly a voice saying, “No, it’s not time.” Snap out if it, mofo. It’s not time. You’ve got a play to do. I remember the whole rest of the night I was sort of blissed out by having seen that. And you try to tell people, “No, I was there, really, man, it’s just on the other side, just on the other side of that wall.” It just didn’t get too much mileage among my friends. Too many drugs rolling around the community back then. They just chalked it up to some kind of chemical pollution.
Do you like being instantly recognizable?
Oh, I’d rather be anonymous. With the show, it’s good and bad. It’s “Here’s a great opportunity, and a great audience, and world distribution,” but now I can’t sit in the cafŽ in Italy anymore. At least I don’t have paparazzi chasing me around. They’re not interested in old guys.
Original Article can be found here