Interview: ‘Silicon Valley’ Actor Martin Starr at 2014 Chicago Critics Film Festival

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CHICAGO – Martin Starr is an actor who is a player. After making an amazing TV debut in “Freaks and Greeks,” as Bill Haverchuck, he has parlayed that unforgettable breakthrough into a number of top roles, including in the film “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead,” which played at the 2014 Chicago Critics Film Festival.

Fred Savage
Martin Starr at the Chicago Critics Film Festival, May 10th, 2014
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

Evolving his cutting-edge street credibility, Starr has another hot TV series he currently is involved in, HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” As Bertram Gilfoyle, he takes the “Freaks and Geeks” concept to a grown up level, as Gilfoyle is both an ace computer coder and devil worshipper. He made his recent Chicago appearance on behalf of his new film “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead,” a magnificently outrageous horror comedy that combines Zombies with Nazis, co-starring Chicagoland native Jocelyn DeBoer.

Starr was born Martin Schienie in Santa Monica, California, and made his memorable acting mark on TV’s “Freaks and Geeks” – created by comedy mogul Judd Apatow in 1999 and cancelled after only one season by NBC – as the gawky yet intelligent Bill Haverchuck. The cast of that show included Jason Siegel, Seth Rogen, John Francis Daley and James Franco, who all went on to practically rule this generation of show business. But Starr was also no slouch. He joined the “Judd Apatow Gang,” with appearances in the films “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” and was in another cult pay cable series, Showtime’s “Party Down.” His interpretation of computer code superstar Gilfoyle on “Silicon Valley” is one of the many highlights of that new show.

Jocelyn DeBoer
Jocelyn DeBoer, Martin Starr at the Chicago Critics Film Festival
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for interviewed Martin Starr on the Red Carpet at the Chicago Critics Film Festival. The Fest goes on until May 15th, 2014, with a full state of closing night films – including “Animals,” a film locally produced and set-in-Chicago. For more details, click here. Your new show, ‘Silicon Valley,’ is just great. What do you think it has to say about America in general, through the filter of the tech world and money in the series?

Martin Starr: [Laughs] That’s a broad question. Our timing is right, since technology is at the forefront of our culture, and will be for a long time. In some ways we’re fortunate to be on top of it, and in other ways it’s an easy target. Now that you have the perspective of adulthood, and are able to go back and watch the cult classic, ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ what amazes you about the context of it?

Starr: I haven’t really watched it in a long time, but as a life experience it was nothing but fortunate, especially in how my career has gone since then. So many people cared about what we did, what we created and how it showed in the final result. As a television show, what we were trying to capture was life and something relatable. And those who related to the show were probably struggling the same way that either the characters did, or what we did in reality by not fitting in. We were saying ‘that is okay.’ Which piece of technology that you use would you think your character Gilfoyle would make fun of?

Starr: I have no idea. [laughs]

The Chicago Critics Film Festival concludes on May 15th, 2014, all films at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago. For complete schedule and to purchase tickets, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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