Interview: Bryan Greenberg & Victor Rasuk from “How to Make it in America”

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 at 11:12 am by

Online press and street promo is really starting to escalate in the run-up to the premiere of How to Make it in America on October 2. Tons of HBO hype posters are plastered all throughout the neighborhood, predominantly on telephone booths curbside billboard spaces.  Last week, we connected with two of the main players – Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk – to hear their thoughts on the show, favorite local eats, and pretty much everything else Lower East Side.

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[Photo Credit: HBO]

BOWERY BOOGIE: Let’s start with the most basic of questions.  Why the Lower East Side as backdrop for How to Make it in America? Do you think the show could work anywhere else?

VICTOR RASUK: No, simply because the Lower East Side is where it’s poppin’. In my opinion, it’s where Andy Warhol and Basquiat set for what’s cool…mad flavor!

BRYAN GREENBERG: New York has a history of immigrants coming to achieve their dreams in America so the Lower East Side is a perfect backdrop for people looking to make their way in this world, it was a starting point for a lot of success stories.
It could work somewhere else in that people can all relate to the storyline, but New York brings an authenticity that’s undeniable.

BOOGIE: The neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the last number of years.  Especially the Bowery, which has already become less synonymous with bums and more with luxury offerings. What’s your take on the evolution of the area?

VICTOR: As a New Yorker, I think it’s cool because who doesn’t want to associate with anything cool. As a native Lower Eastsider, it kind of sucks because I had to see childhood friends be pushed out to the Bronx or other neighborhoods in the outskirts of New York City. Glad to see that places like El Castillo have survived though!

BRYAN: Well the [Bowery] Mission still made it, ha! But yes, it’s definitely changed. It’s inevitable,  that’s what New York does and has always done — constantly reinventing itself.

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BOOGIE: What do you like most about the Lower East Side?  What are your connections to the area?

VICTOR: What I love the most is that it’s where I consider home and that’s the connection. I got my swagger from this neighborhood, I learned how to take care of myself and watch my back but it’s also been the place that has opened up all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with today.

BRYAN: I went to NYU so I lived downtown for 5 years. There’s always something going on in the LES, great restaurants, great bars and not too pretentious.

BOOGIE: Everyone loves hearing behind-the-scenes shenanigans.  Any cool stories to share about the filming of the upcoming season that fans would appreciate?

VICTOR: Yeah, Scott (Kid Cudi) came in so prepared that there were times where he knew my lines better than I knew my own.

BRYAN: No huge shenanigans but I got to shoot at my favorite hot dog joint, Ray’s Candy Store on 7th and A – I used to go there as a student. We were shooting a scene at Tompkins Square Park and it started to rain, so off the cuff suggested we shoot the scene at Ray’s which we ended up doing. It was a full circle moment for me.

BOOGIE: Do you have a hand in the writing or storyboarding at all?

VICTOR: Yeah because I potentially would love to direct later in my career and the show has an open environment to our creative ideas — that’s why it’s so good!!

BRYAN: No, but you have to be careful what you tell the writers because you might find personal aspects of your life popping up in scripts like bad breakups and drug anxieties.

BOOGIE: What’s your bar of choice while hanging in the neighborhood?

VICTOR: My favorite spot used to be The Eldridge, but amped for Sons of Essex. Right now my bar and restaurant of choice is Il Bagatto on 2nd [at Avenue B]!

BRYAN: Soon to be Sons of Essex, for now I’ll slip into Schiller’s for a drink.

BOOGIE: Do you ever shun the Kraft services food in favor of local eats?  If so, what was your standby during the latest round of neighborhood filming?

VICTOR: I don’t shun Kraft service food, it comes in handy when you must need it. But depending on when we’re shooting, I’ll step out and grab a slice at Nino’s Pizzeria on 8th and A.

BRYAN: I’ll pass on the Kraft services table for Meatball Shop any day!

BOOGIE: Where can we get a can of Rasta Monsta?

VICTOR: You tell me!

BRYAN: Ask Luis Guzman, that’s his racket.

BOOGIE: What music are you into at the moment?  Been to any cool shows lately?

VICTOR: Always into the 90’s hip hop, I just saw Mos Def and Talib Kwalib and it was dope.

BRYAN: I’ve been on tour so the last show was my own last week, but I’m listening to the How to Make it in America mixtape that just dropped today! [Editor’s note: it’s a free download]

BOOGIE: Star Wars or Star Trek?

VICTOR: Star Wars – the old school ones…

BRYAN: Star Trek — seen every episode of the Next Generation.

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