Steve Guttenberg is ‘so thrilled’ with ‘Ballers’

Long Island-raised Steve Guttenberg plays a Las Vegas casino magnate in Season 3 of HBO's
Long Island-raised Steve Guttenberg plays a Las Vegas casino magnate in Season 3 of HBO’s “Ballers” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Photo Credit: Newsday/ Dan Neville

It wasn’t an end zone dance, but maybe call our walk with Steve Guttenberg a victory lap.

This weekend kicks off Season 3 of “Ballers,” and the most high profile role the local actor has had in years.

“Oh, man, it’s such a great, great gig, I’m so thrilled!” he says with heartfelt enthusiasm at the mention of the Dwayne Johnson-led comedy-drama set in the world of sports and high finance.

Guttenberg plays Wayne Hastings, a casino magnate crucial to the third season’s arc about an attempt to bring an NFL franchise to Las Vegas.

“Dwayne is a very genuine, authentic person,” he says about his co-star.

Guttenberg’s chat with amNY wasn’t in a conference room or PR space. We met him on the street and took a walk around Rockefeller Center before he grabbed the subway to head back to his apartment. (“Whattya gonna do?” he shrugs when I ask if he’s ever gotten stuck on a train.)

“Is that a balloon or is it steel? It’s beautiful!” he says looking up at “Seated Ballerina,” the temporary Jeff Koons sculpture in front of 30 Rock.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Massapequa, Long Island, (with a stint in Flushing in between), Guttenberg, 56, didn’t come to Manhattan all that much growing up.

“It was a big trip psychologically,” he confesses. In high school, though, he and fellow members of his theater group (the Teen Repertory Theater of Oyster Bay) would take the train in. Would they get into trouble?

“We’d go see Marx Brothers movies. I would sit in the balcony and smoke cigars and I would inevitably get sick.”

After high school, Guttenberg went out to Los Angeles to try and break into show business. Which for him meant literally.

“I snuck my way onto the Paramount lot, into the Lucille Ball makeup building. I was able to splice some wires and get myself a little telephone, stole some furniture from Bing Crosby Productions and made a little office for myself to try to get myself cast. I went to work every day!”

Then we get the shrug-smile that worked so well for him as a young man in movies like “Diner” and “Three Men and a Baby.”

“It was a different time.”

The 1980s were good to Guttenberg.

After “Diner” he starred, of course, in the “Police Academy” franchise, which became newsworthy again when former President Bill Clinton discussed binge-watching the franchise with his daughter in the White House.

“I met Bill. He told me the movies made him laugh, took the edge off. The first ‘Police Academy’ is so well crafted, it really holds up.”

He’s also still got the lewd T-shirt his character wore. He says he’ll sell it at Sotheby’s some day. “$100 grand is the least it’ll go for.” That’s a real baller move.

ON TV: Sundays on HBO at 10 p.m.