Jericho

BEFORE THE SCENE with Richard Speight, Jr.

by AJ Buckley on August 7, 2014

173980938-webThis article originally ran in the March/April 2014 issue of Scene Magazine.

Richard Speight, Jr. is a veteran actor from Nashville, Tennessee. He is best known for his roles on the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, on The CW’s Supernatural and as Deputy Bill Kohler on Jericho. He can next be seen alongside Danny Trejo and Lin Shaye in the film Mucho Dinero.

What made you want to be an actor?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to become an actor. When I was five, I started doing plays in Nashville, Tennessee, where I grew up. What I really fell for first was theatre. At the time, Nashville was a pretty small theatre community. It was a tight knit group. So, once you’re the nonspeaking five-year-old in a Greek tragedy, you might be the nonspeaking five-year-old in the next play. And I had two older sisters. They had dance class, then they went to acting class and I sat in the waiting room. Eventually I stopped sitting in the waiting room and decided that if I’m gonna be there for an hour, I might as well take the classes. And that really sent me down the road. I was just immersed in the world. I remember specifically deciding when I was fifteen that I wanted to do it for a living. Eventually, the dance class went away because I really wasn’t that good. But the acting stuck. I moved out to Southern California and I went to USC and majored in theatre.

What was your biggest fear?
I was afraid of failure. Returning home with nothing to show for my time in Los Angeles. That was my biggest fear. That was my biggest driving force, but that’s not gonna get you hired. I was always very hard on myself. I felt like I wasn’t working and I was a big loser. In a way, that gave me a good work ethic. I was just trying to figure out how to chip away at the giant wall that is the acting industry. I mean, it is the damnedest of professions! There are weirder ones, but there may not be trickier ones. There’s no right way to do it. It’s not like, “Oh, I wanna be a lawyer, so I’ll go to law school.” You can be an actor, and not even go to acting school. There’s no degree requirement. You could be forty or you could be four and make the same amount of money a year. So bizarre, so hard to navigate, so impossible to interpret. I feared everything! I feared failure. I feared using all my time trying to crack the code and never developing a personal life. Being broke. I always thought it was kinda hip to be a starving artist. I didn’t mind starving, I just wanted to be damn sure I was doing the artist part. There’s more!

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