Three Great Things: Ethan Suplee

The fan-favorite character actor, who can currently be seen in God is a Bullet, on family time, sci-fi trilogies and Italian food.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the current release in theaters of God is a Bullet, the new thriller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maika Monroe, Ethan Suplee and Jamie Foxx, the veteran actor shared some of the things he loves most in life. — N.D.

Hanging Out with My Wife and Kids
Honestly, my favorite thing to do is hang out with my wife and kids. Half my kids are fully grown and live in New York and the two younger ones are teenagers and go to a boarding school. I also have a granddaughter who lives in New York. When we all get together, it’s my happiest time, and nowadays it only really happens around holidays, and occasionally spring break.

My youngest daughter turned 16 over spring break this year, and we all went to New York to visit my granddaughter and the other two girls. It was just wonderful, but also a little bittersweet because I felt some sense of loss at the joy I had when they were all very little and we were together every day. I loved the schedule of getting them up and ready for school, of packing lunches, making breakfast and driving them. Once I got them all off to school, I would exhale, because I’d run the gauntlet, and then I was excited to see them at the end of the day, bring them home and hear how their days went. By the time my youngest was in school, the oldest was 12, so we would hear everything from talk of boys down to “I’m learning the ABCs.” Sharing those moments over dinner was very special.

Having conversations with the people I’ve watched since they were babies, and reliant on others for everything, is my favorite thing to do. There’s a fascinating moment of realization where you, as a parent, discover that your kids are not just an extension of you, they’re now fully independent human beings. The direction their lives are going in can completely diverge from my hopes and expectations for them, but allowing that to have breath and watching them become people unto themselves has been the most meaningful thing I’ve ever experienced.

The Three-Body Problem Trilogy
I recently read The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin’s trilogy of science fiction books, and it utterly captivated me. I thought it was wild. As a fan of science fiction, there’s some portion of my mind that thinks if the universe is truly infinite, then anything we can imagine exists somewhere. So I loved that there were aspects of The Three-Body Problem that took our current understanding of physics into consideration in explaining how all these other civilizations work. There’s even a very interesting postulate of the fourth dimension, whatever that would be … because how could we even conceive of it?!

I first read the books near the start of the pandemic; I needed something to read, because I didn’t know what else to do for so many hours in a day. I read the first book cover to cover and was riveted, so I got the other two and read those also. And I’ve just recently reread them. I understood more of the nuance the second time through, this time already knowing the general concept and having a sense of where the book was going.

The trilogy also got me reading about and trying to understand Newton’s three-body problem. I don’t have the best mind for that kind of rigorous science, so I get lost in it, but I’m still fascinated by it. Quantum physics is wild, like the way the universe is mostly made up of something we don’t understand, but we’ve decided it’s there because otherwise none of our models work.

Italian Food
I like food a lot and I also like withholding food from myself. My wife has found herself in Rome twice for weddings that were delayed because of the pandemic, and I’m about to go back for a second and then a third trip, so we’re going to Italy quite a bit. The food there is really fantastic, some of the best in the world. I’m on a perpetual diet, but I do like to let my hair down and earn a bowl of pasta or two while I’m in Italy. I feel like it would be sacrilegious to go there and not eat pasta.

I had an experience once where I was having dinner with Roberto Benigni at a place called Felice a Testaccio in Rome, which he said was “the best restaurant in my city.” When the pasta course came, I told him I didn’t need a plate. He said, “What are you doing?!” He seemed truly shocked and speared a piece of penne, thrust it at me and said, “I’m insulted. Ethan from Burbank, you must eat this pasta!” I wouldn’t do it, though, and I still regret it to this day. I wish I had eaten that bite of penne. Tom Hanks was also at this dinner, and many years later, he came up to me and my family at a restaurant and said, “Ethan from-a Burbank!”, imitating Roberto Benigni. It was pretty funny.

At the time of my dinner with Benigni, 15 years ago or so, my dieting habits were far more fragile – I worried that I would eat that bite of penne and it would somehow lead me to end up blacked out in a crack house. Today, fortunately, that’s not the case. If I go to Italy, I’ll make sure I get in 20,000 steps and if I eat pasta, I don’t have to go to the all-you-can-eat buffet and eat until I’m sick. I’m hoping that on my next trip, artichokes are in season so I’ll be eating something green as well. I’m also hoping to go back to that same restaurant I was at all those years ago, Felice a Testaccio, and reclaim the moment by taking my children there and finally eating that famous pasta.

Featured image shows Ethan Suplee in God is a Bullet.

Ethan Suplee can currently be seen in the new thriller God is a Bullet, opposite Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maika Monroe and Jamie Foxx. He recently costarred in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon opposite Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, opposite Channing Tatum in the hit dramedy Dog, and starred in Craig Zobel’s dystopian thriller The Hunt, opposite Hilary Swank. Previously, he appeared Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Tony Kaye’s American History X, Ted Demme’s Blow, and Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain and Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma. He had his breakout role in Remember The Titans opposite Denzel Washington. Ethan landed his first TV role at the age of 16 on the hit series Boy Meets World, went on to star opposite Jason Lee in the hit comedy My Name is Earl and recently appeared on Good Girls opposite Christina Hendricks, in a major arc on the final season of Santa Clarita Diet, and memorably co-starred on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return. He also continues to host his popular American Glutton podcast.