I’ve never felt anything personal in terms of rejection about auditions. I know a lot of actors do. I’m pretty good at doing the audition and walking away. I bring the best I can to the audition, and if that’s what they want, and if all the other stars are in alignment, I’ll get it—and if they don’t, it didn’t work out and it’s onto the next thing. — Richard Riehle
If you’re looking for what it takes to be an actor long-term, over the course of your LIFE, then you’ve come to the right place, and you’re going to really enjoy today’s episode!
Maybe you feel like there’s nothing else you could do or that you’re trained to do. Or maybe you’re not even sure if this is something you could do for a living—today’s guest felt the exact same way!
Today on the show is the actor Richard Riehle (pronounced “Really!”), and he had those same ideas and thoughts that I just mentioned—and yet, after a nearly 50-year career, he’s still going!
With 400+ onscreen credits to his name, plus years and years of regional theatre, he is truly a working actor! In fact, he’s got over a dozen on-screen credits in various stages of production right now—AND he’s currently rehearsing for the stage adaptation of KEY LARGO at the Geffen Playhouse in LA—the show stars Andy Garcia and opens in early November, so get your tickets now!
You’ve probably seen Richard in dozens of things, with very memorable parts in the films Glory, The Fugitive, Office Space, and Casino, as well as appearances on Modern Family, Grounded for Life, and Black-ish. And of course, that doesn’t even touch on the decades of regional theatre Richard did before he even started working on-camera!
Just a bit of what we cover in this episode with Richard:
- How he was open to whatever possibilities came along, literally saying things like “Yeah, I guess I can do that”
- How he saw being an actor as a job—it was what he did to put money on the table
- How people can really depend and rely on him
- How he does the audition and then walks away
- Why it sometimes feels like he’s starting all over
- Why certain projects (that he was excited about) didn’t end up working out
Richard even shares how he works on Shakespeare, with a speech from The Winter’s Tale, so don’t miss that!
About the guest
Richard Riehle received a BA in Speech and Drama from the University of Notre Dame, and an MFA in Theater Arts from the University of Minnesota.
He worked the “I-5 Rep” on the West Coast from Alaska to Arizona, hitting many theatre companies and Shakespeare festivals in between and along the coast!
On Broadway, he’s appeared in Execution of Justice, The Iceman Cometh, and The Man Who Had All The Luck! In NY, he’s also appeared at the Public Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and Classic Stage Company.
Regionally, he got his start at the Meadow Brook Theatre in Michigan, and then worked at The Guthrie, The Goodman, Yale Rep, Milwaukee Rep, and many others.
He has been in over 250 feature films and over 60 different television shows, including Of Mice and Men, Free Willy, Bridesmaids, Two and a Half Men, The Mindy Project, The West Wing, and The Middle.
Please enjoy my chat with Richard Riehle!
Total Running Time: 1:55:52
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Want to hear from another Midwest-born theatre actor? Check out my talk with Steppenwolf’s Francis Guinan!
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let us know in the comments.
Scroll below for links mentioned in today’s episode and additional show notes…
Are you looking for more about being a working actor?
If you’re enjoying these episodes, I want to let you know you can become a premium member of the show and there are a number of different perks, including bonus episodes, exclusive opportunities, and more.
Members can hear additional conversations with past guests Robert Pine, Dawn Didawick, and Reed Birney. Plus, there will soon be an episode with today’s guest Richard Riehle, including two behind-the-scenes stories of working on the films Rooster Cogburn (with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn) and Casino (with Scorsese, De Niro, and Pesci)!
A special shout-out to our members at the Co-Star level or higher: Adam, Jeff, Robert, Ken, and Ralph! Thrilled that you all are members! And in fact, it was Jeff who connected me with today’s guest, Richard (they were both at the University of Minnesota together)—so there’s another bonus of membership, and thank you to Jeff for doing that!
I also want to mention a new project from one of our past guests: it’s called Working.Actor, and it was co-founded by Ben Whitehair, who you’ll hear in episode 11—this is an online “Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Working Actor”.
As they say, it’s “Everything you need to know to be a working actor…all in one spot.”
Having known Ben for over 10 years, I know he puts a ton of work into whatever he does, so I definitely encourage you to check it out. You don’t need to be in the US to learn from this. So literally, go to working.actor (that’s the URL!), and right now they’re running a launch special. Wherever you are in the world, I hope it helps you!
Richard Riehle around the web
- Growing up in Wisconsin in a large family
- Going to Catholic high schools and then to the seminary
- Spending sophomore year of college in Austria and working on a farm
- Wandering through University and then realizing: what am I going to do?
- Taking an opportunity to audition for non-equity theatre at Oregon Shakespeare Festival
- Learning from being onstage or being near stage: watching everything!
- Taking a chance to audition in Seattle, and suddenly working in town for a year
- His view of being an actor and why he thinks he works so often
- Landing the TV show “Ferris Bueller” by making the character his own and figuring out what the writers stole!
- Why he suspects the “Ferris Bueller” show ultimately didn’t work out
- Watching Harold Pinter act onstage
- Working with and watching Gary Sinise and John Malkovich on Of Mice and Men
- Being part of The Fugitive and working with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones
- Auditioning for Office Space and experiencing the city of Austin, TX with Mike Judge as host
- Even with all his film/tv, why does he choose to keep doing theatre?
- Being on Broadway with two major shows
- Working on a Leontes speech from The Winter’s Tale
- Why it sometimes feels like he’s starting all over
- How he’s made peace with Los Angeles that this is where all the work is
Selected People and Items Mentioned
- American Field Service (Exchange Program)
- We Bombed in New Haven, play by Joseph Heller
- IATSE in Chicago
- Milwaukee Rep
- Meadow Brook Theatre in Michigan
- Oregon Shakespeare Festival
- BoarsHead Theater in Lansing, MI
- Jack O’Reilly, mayor of Dearborn
- Empty Space Theatre, Seattle
- Execution of Justice, play by Emily Mann
- Moon Over Miami, play by John Guare at Yale Rep
- Rooster Coburn with Wayne and Hepburn
- Richard Jordan, actor
- Ferris Bueller show with Charlie Schlatter, Jennifer Aniston, and Ami Dolenz
- The Firesign Theatre and More Science High
- The Birthday Party, play by Harold Pinter
- Michael Ironside, actor
- Of Mice and Men with Gary Sinise (also director) and John Malkovich
- The Fugitive film with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones
- Ned Blessing, TV show
- Office Space film
- My Two Dads, appearing on an episode with Dakin Matthews (our guest on ep #12)
- Distant Fires at the Coast Playhouse, with DB Sweeney, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mykelti Williamson
- The Iceman Cometh with Kevin Spacey
- Grounded for Life show
- Williamstown Theatre Festival, MA
- The Man Who Had All the Luck, play by Arthur Miller
- Straight White Men, play by Young Jean Lee
- Key Largo at The Geffen Playhouse, November 6 – December 10, 2019
Richard’s monologue from The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare
+ click to view/close the monologue
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