Photography by Mr Bjorn Iooss | Styling by Ms Gaelle Paul
Words by Ms Hillary Busis
Television is a fickle business. This past spring, Mr Hephner, a 36-year-old actor from Michigan, was selected to star in The Playboy Club, one of the NBC television network's high-profile fall shows. But a week after winning the part, Mr Hephner got bad news; the network had decided replace him with Mr Eddie Cibrian.
Several months later, though, the pendulum has swung back. While The Playboy Club was cancelled after three episodes, Mr Hephner can now be seen going toe-to-toe with Mr Kelsey Grammer on the new political drama Boss. We caught up with the actor, who cut his teeth on dramas such as The OC, Private Practice and NCIS, moments after he returned from digging holes in the back yard with his young son.
What attracted you to Boss?
The people that were involved, meaning Kelsey Grammer and Gus van Sant [who directed the pilot].
Tell us a little about your character, Ben Zajac.
He's overly ambitious and eager. He's given an opportunity to run in the primary for governor, he hesitates for one second, but then he jumps in and takes it. He's going to find himself caught in a web of power.
Do the beautiful suits you wear in the show help you get into character?
When you get into a nice suit you automatically feel more powerful - it puts a little pep in your step. It gives me a little freedom to play with that feeling.
Did you get any style tips from Kelsey Grammer?
He's very well dressed. Often I would say, "Can I get my suit to look like that?" He has these things tailored to a T.
How do you define your sense of style?
It's evolving. I went from being a bum to having an appreciation of nicer things. I've worked on some shows that have allowed me to dress in a way that I never would have done on my own. I get cast a lot as a guy in a suit - I don't know what the deal is, but I do - so I have a good understanding of the power of presentation.
Do you have a style icon?
You know, I don't. If I were to pick somebody, it would probably be some old cowboy.
How was the transition from your hometown, Small Creek, Michigan, to Hollywood?
It's gone in fits and starts. When I moved to New York City I didn't really have a clue about what I was doing. I did a TV show that I thought was going to go for 30 years - and that got cancelled right away. I worked in construction on the side - there were moments when I would be on TV, then I'd spend six months re-modelling a restaurant on the Upper West Side. So I've been eased into this life. I know that work can disappear just as quickly as it appears.
When you're done shooting, how do you unwind?
I like to have a glass of wine or a beer. And we cook a lot - we find it relaxing. At the house my wife and I have in California, we've got a nice garden. And right now we are going through a ton of chard, spinach, romaine and arugula.
How did you feel when you heard that The Playboy Club had been cancelled?
Mixed, to be quite honest. Sure, you want to flip everybody the finger and say, "See?" But I met some really wonderful people there, and a lot of people woke up one day without a job. Of course, I'm happy with how it turned out for me - I've got a show that's already renewed for a second season.