When Nurse Jeffrey Sparkman first appeared on our TV screens in the House episode “Ignorance Is Bliss,” it was a real eye-opener for long time viewers. Here was a character who was not afraid to give Dr. House some of his own back, to not sheepishly slink away when House shot a few snide remarks his way. It took only a couple of lines and a ‘bite me’ attitude to make Nurse Jeffrey a fan favorite.
We here at InHouse were eager to interview Patrick Price, the actor who, with very little screen time, has managed to make the character of Nurse Jeffrey memorable and interesting. As the weekly “Bitch Tape” appisodes prove, this is a character with staying power; one we would like to see more of in the app and on House.
This week, Mr. Price graciously granted us the following interview, which fans of House and the appisodes will find surprising, enlightening and just plain fun.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Do you come from a show business family? How did you get started in the entertainment business? I see from your IMDB listing you’ve worked on a couple of soap operas. What was that like?
Wow, where to start? I'm an avid runner, gardener, singer, cook, and over-all bon vivant. I'm originally from Germany, but lived in Milan and Paris for many, many years while I was modeling. Have been living in LA now for many years. No, nobody else in the family is in show business, just me. I started doing bit parts in independent films when I lived in Paris, guess that's where I got bitten by the 'bug', so decided to move to LA to give it a go. Yes, started in soaps when I arrived in LA. Soaps are an awesome training ground for any actor, I think. Tons of dialogue and a tight shooting schedule means you gotta learn how to get it done right and in a hurry. Stressful, yes, but you learn to memorize quickly, hopefully do it well,and turn it out fast.
On Twitter you communicate in a variety of languages. Which languages are you fluent in?
I speak German and French, yes; and enough Spanish and Italian to get me out of trouble, or into trouble if I'm not paying attention. Twitter has been great because it's given me a chance to practice my language skills, or lack thereof, with fans from all over the world.
How long have you been with the show House? Do you work behind the scenes? If so, in what capacity? (Hugh Laurie’s stand-in?) I believe you were Hugh Laurie’s translator for a German interview a few years back. It seems your role on this show is fairly complex. Can you elaborate on this?
I have been working on House since the beginning, day one. Yes, I was asked to come in as Hugh's stand-in because I did some stand-in work for him on Stuart Little, and also because we're the same height, same eye color, same body type — and that helps the DP (director of photography) with set lighting, etc. I am still Hugh's stand-in to this day, so I not only get to play Nurse Jeffrey on the show, I get to work on set every day as Hugh's stand-in when I'm not playing Nurse Jeffrey. Yes, Hugh asked me to do a skit with him in German because House won the Goldene Kamera award in Germany for best international show a couple of years ago. He wrote the skit, and I did the German translation and 'acted' as his German translator for the acceptance speech. Very funny.
How did you land the role of Nurse Jeffrey? Were you in competition with many other actors or was the role written with you in mind?
I remember reading the script for "Ignorance is Bliss" and coming across this character, Nurse Jeffrey. I liked him from the get go. I thought he was different from any other character they'd had before on the show and I thought I could bring something special to this character. I knew there would be a lot of actors auditioning to play Nurse Jeffrey, and there were.
How did your colleagues react to Jeffrey’s sudden popularity?
Everyone has been so very supportive. The producers, the cast and crew, the writers, everyone. It's been great and incredibly humbling to have such a tremendous support group surrounding me. The fans have been just amazing. They've really responded so positively to Nurse Jeffrey and his interactions with House. They seem to love this fun, 'bitchy' dynamic that's evolved between House and Nurse Jeffrey, so it's awesome that they've been so accepting and responsive. Love my fans.
Why do you think the fan response to Nurse Jeffrey was so strong after his first appearance on the show? What do you think of Jeffrey Sparkman? Would you spend time with him?
I think the fans responded so strongly to Nurse Jeffrey because there hasn't been a male nurse on the show before who snapped back at House the way Nurse Jeffrey does. Nurse Jeffrey is a nurse who's done it all, seen it all, and isn't going to take any crap from anyone, not even House. He's irked by House's antics and behavior and is determined to not let House get under his skin. Nurse Jeffrey gives back as good as he gets, unapologetically, lol. I love Nurse Jeffrey! His hair is 'done', his outfits are 'done', he's quick-witted and sassy. He's a fun character.Of course I'd spend time with Nurse Jeffrey, simply for the amusement factor of his antics and no-nonsense attitude.