Actor Asher Grodman Believes in “Ghosts”

Asher Grodman was fortunate enough to grow up on a New Jersey farm possessed by spirits from the 1700s.
October 14, 2021
Asher Grodman

Not many Jewish actors can claim to have spent their youth in a real haunted house. Asher Grodman was fortunate enough to grow up on a New Jersey farm possessed by spirits from the 1700s. Did it leave Grodman convinced of the supernatural?

“There were ghosts who had died in the Revolutionary War—soldiers through the swampy wilderness of the time,” the actor explained over the phone. “So, out of respect for those stories and for the home I grew up in, I will say yes.”

It seems only fitting that Grodman currently plays an apparition in the highly anticipated CBS sitcom, “Ghosts.” Adapted from the hit BBC One series, “Ghosts” follows a young couple in their attempt to convert a ghost-ridden estate into a charming bed and breakfast. Grodman took a break from filming in Montreal to discuss his new role and working with the late Eli Wallach.

JJ: Congratulations on your new series, “Ghosts.” What can you tell us about your character, Trevor?

AG: I would say he’s a New York, Wall Street nineties guy who loves to have a good time. He is very much of his time, but by today’s standards, has a few lessons he’s got to learn. He is indeed Jewish, which is very exciting for me because, as a Jew, to get to play a Jew, doesn’t happen very often. He’s just looking for a good time. He’s trapped for eternity with this group of people and eternity is a long time. Better enjoy it.

JJ: How did you prepare for the role?

AG: When I auditioned for it, it was just very clear that the script is fantastic … it was a process of kind of letting go and just trusting that. Aside from that, once I had the role, it was creating the relationships with the different characters in the story and the different things that happen. Also, there’s a fun thing of just being someone who grew up in the nineties. Some of these scripts are like walking down memory lane. You remember these moments where, “Oh, that was on television!” He quotes “Seinfeld” in the pilot. So, for me, the little kid in me is like, “Oh, great!”

There’s a little bit of learning some Yiddish, which is fun. Most of which I knew, but just saying it on television is a lot of fun.

JJ: You directed Eli Wallach in your short film, “The Train.” Wallach played a Holocaust survivor. What do you remember most about working with him?

AG: Just watching him work was such a joy because he was mesmerizing … Eli passed away [prior to the release] and I thought, “No, I’m not going to do this. This is going to come out now and he’s had this incredible career. I don’t want to bring the film out now. I’ll just can it.”

I was terrified—Eli was like Marlon Brando’s landlord. I mean, this guy had been around forever. He was incredible. The fact that he gave his time and energy to this little film was amazing. He showed up on set and he was telling stories the whole time. He was so generous. Everyone was just mesmerized by him.

A friend of mine who was there [on set] was like, “You have to show people this film! Because Eli would be like, “You schmuck, what are you doing? I did the movie, let people see it!’” So, when my buddy told me that, I was like, “Okay, okay, you’re right, you’re right.” I dedicated it to [Eli] and put this film out there. It was a little bit of a journey that took way too long, but I’m glad we got it out there. We got to celebrate Eli.

I think one of the biggest takeaways working with him was he was so easy. He was so easy. You could feel every thought he was having. When the camera started rolling, he didn’t change. He was just as alive and spontaneous and magnetic. For Eli, he was so seamless. He was amazing.

JJ: What do you love most about acting? 

AG: You can be really down in the dumps and just be having a miserable time and then, read a good story and you’re thrilled. It excites you. The fact that you can tell that story to someone else—that’s like one of the greatest thrills you could have. Then, in the midst of telling that story, you’re bringing it to life, which means you’re actually discovering each element of that story in real time with someone else. That’s make-believe. That’s the stuff that kids do every day. So, part of it is just being a kid again. Even though it’s “pretend,” it feels sometimes more like real life than real life does.

JJ: You come from a drama background. Was it challenging to transition to comedy? 

AG: I remember my audition—Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, our creators, who are awesome, and our director, Trent O’Donnell, who directed the pilot and the first four episodes. They were like, “Um, who are you? We don’t know—you’ve never done a comedy. What the hell?” I think I said something like, “I just figure comedy is like drama, but it’s more serious.”

I think there was like a hunch or something I had about who Trevor was. So, I’ve been able to hold onto that and those relationships. But there’s so much work and different techniques and craft to learn around making the joke land, making sure that you’re not stepping on someone else’s joke, and how you set up your scene partner. Because you’re basically balancing two things at once—you’re telling a story but you’re also taking care of this comedic language, which, of course, is a whole other balance between spontaneity and structure. So, there’s a lot to learn and I am outrageously lucky to be able to learn some of these lessons.

This interview has been edited for clarity. “Ghosts” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST/PST on CBS.

Eve Rotman is a writer on the West Coast. Follow her on Twitter @EveRotman

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