Chicago Fire’s David Eigenberg details his role in An Acceptable Loss

David Eigenberg appears in the thriller An Acceptable Loss. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Colleen Griffen Chappelle.
David Eigenberg appears in the thriller An Acceptable Loss. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Colleen Griffen Chappelle. /

David Eigenberg is brilliant in An Acceptable Loss, and the Chicago Fire star spoke about reuniting with Joe Chappelle to film the thriller.

If you haven’t seen An Acceptable Loss yet, you haven’t seen a great performance from David Eigenberg. It’s completely different from his work as Christopher Herrmann on Chicago Fire.

David has a memorable appearance in the thriller as a professor who confronts former security advisor Libby Lamm (Tika Sumpter) when she joins the faculty at his university. It’s a small part, but it’s riveting.

One Chicago Center connected with him to discuss how he created his character with limited screen time, and what it meant to work again with Joe Chappelle, who previously directed him for years on Chicago Fire.

Learn more in our interview with David Eigenberg below, and then stream An Acceptable Loss now on Amazon Video and iTunes, or see it in select theaters.

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One Chicago Center: How did you get involved with An Acceptable Loss? Was it through your work with Joe on Chicago Fire?

David Eigenberg: I have been pretty close to Joe all these years we’ve worked together and think he is an amazing talent. [His wife and producer] Colleen [Griffen] called and asked me if I would do this job. I read [the script], was blown away by it, and I told them I would do anything—even just stand in the background for them. I admire them so much.

OCC: Was it different being directed by him on this movie than on Chicago Fire, since this was his own project?

DE: Joe is an incredibly focused director and does so much homework, as he did on Fire. He storyboards everything, and frankly I desire directors who do that. Mostly because if they have a plan and circumstances dictate they have to change it, they are much more adept—making changes and doing it quickly instead of going “Ah, ah, ah, panic,” then “Screw everybody, I’m doing it my way.” Which is doing a movie with a narcissist, and Joe is the antithesis of that.

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OCC: Your character in An Acceptable Loss only has one scene, but it’s a very important scene. So how did you approach the role?

DE: I pull pieces as I think about them. How they walk, how they move, how they talk, what they wear. What’s your focus point—what do they love, what do they hate? Then you throw it against the wall in one small scene and hope some of it sticks. Much harder than building a character over a period of time, but in that way it’s much more scary and much more exciting.

OCC: What was it like to actually film that scene?

DE: Well, you look around, and I saw Ben [Tavassoli, who plays Martin] standing on the balcony. And in the story I know what he’s doing, because I’ve read it. But I also have him in mind, because it’s the story. I’m revealing this thing to him.

And wondering if I can elicit compassion, understanding, intelligence from this person [Libby] who has kind of done this horrific thing, although it’s not alien to American politics.

OCC: Whether it’s in this movie or on Chicago Fire, you get these monologues and are always so great at delivering them. How does David Eigenberg nail these big speeches?

DE: Big monologues, at first when I turn to them, are just big chunks of black ink. And it horrifies me. I look at it and go I don’t know how I can learn this all, because I don’t feel like I have a very good memory. But then you just go at it and pick it up and build it.

You’re flying at it and sometimes the words are just barely there, but sometimes [that] makes it kind of beautiful. Because sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re going to say next—as it is in life.

OCC: What did you take away from being part of An Acceptable Loss?

DE: I think this is a wonderful country, but we certainly have our liabilities and we have done incredibly questionable or awful things in our history. [We] want to just glaze over that and be willfully ignorant, and that’s the one thing I have contempt for about this country. Read, understand, look at all sides of the story—but know that we have made horrible decisions.

I was very proud of the script. [It’s] a hypothetical situation, but it’s not all that far from the violence in Iraq that we chose to put ourselves in and the tragedy of a war that really, nobody knows why we were there. Or at minimum, a multi-level highly suspect engagement that can only be dissected in a 400-page book covering all of it.

Next. Read our An Acceptable Loss review. dark

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