Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are pleased to present the following interview with actor and director, RICHARD KLINE
Richard Kline is a stage and screen actor and director. Although probably best known for his role as Larry Dallas on the hit television show, Three’s Company, like many of Pillow Talking’s interviewees, he truly is a multi-hyphenate. He has a Master of Fine Arts from Northwestern University and started out in theatre in the early 1970s. He often has returned to his roots in theatre amid a busy acting and directing schedule. In 2010, he was cast as the Wizard in the first national tour of Wicked. In 2014, Richard starred in Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys. He now has returned to CRT to star in the upcoming production of Spamalot. Pillow Talking was so happy to catch up with this intelligent, funny, genuine talent.
Thank you so much for granting us this interview! We are very honored to have you as part of our Pillow Talking blog!
PT: When did you first decide to pursue acting?
RK: I was in boys’ camp in Morris, CT (Bantam Lake) and a fellow camper and I lip-synched a novelty record “The Flying Saucer.” It was a huge hit and in the fall I repeated the performance at my junior high school in Queens, NY. I then appeared in the school play and that was the seed of the dream.
PT: That’s wild! Probably the way many young people get the bug, we’d imagine. So did you go on to receive formal training and if so, where?
RK: I did not act in high school because I was involved in the school paper as its sports editor. At Queens College and Northwestern, I pursued degrees in theater. My mentor at Queens was Tom Haas, who went on to teach at Yale with Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, and Henry Winkler.
PT: What a pedigree! So what did your family say when you decided to go into acting?
RK: My family was completely supportive. My dad was an actor for a very brief time before the Depression hit and so was perhaps living that dream vicariously through me. My sister was a dance major at Juilliard so there was a heavy influence of the arts in our family.
RK: I was obsessed with Jerry Lewis, who I later found out was also John Ritter’s idol. In college, I was a big fan of Richard Burton.
PT: What a great coincidence! What did you consider to have been your big break?
RK: The obvious answer is getting the guest star role on Three’s Company that turned into a series regular. However, after coming out of the army in 1971, I was accepted into the Lincoln Center Repertory company, worked with Blythe Danner. Her husband, Bruce Paltrow (Gwyneth’s dad) introduced me to her agent. They signed me and I have been working ever since.
PT: We are both huge fans of Three’s Company! On that show and its spin-offs, we knew you so well as Larry, the beloved best friend of Jack Tripper (John Ritter). Would you consider that to have been life changing? Was it hard to be seen or considered as other characters after having been associated with such an iconic television sitcom? Tell us more about that experience.
RK: The classic “have you been type-cast?” story is in the movie Klute. Jean Stapleton of All in the Family, had a small part in a very serious film and apparently at some screenings there was laughter when she appeared. TC was life-changing in many ways and its longevity is something I never expected. However, it has afforded me many opportunities I wouldn’t normally have. I’m sure it has been restrictive in some ways but I have not suffered as an actor. Guest spots on NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and most recently nice dramatic roles on The Americans and Blue Bloods have proven to rebut the notion.
PT: Well, we can say we are very excited to be seeing you in a very different role next week in Spamalot! You’ve done everything, television, movies, theatre and have directed as well. Which hat do you like to wear most?
RK: My first love is theatre. I enjoy the process which is much longer than TV or film. I enjoy the challenge of either making the audience laugh or cry or sometimes both. The dynamic changes every night of performance and that keeps you on your toes and invigorated.
PT: We truly love theatre as well – as audience members as well as the hats we wear as writers, producers, and directors. Tell us what advice would you give young actors and directors today?
RK: Study, study, study, prepare, prepare, prepare — and get a day job.
PT: So true! What is your process when it comes to preparing for a part (in film, TV, or theatre)?
RK: I tend towards the British process; that is to be off-book as much as possible so as to be free to listen and react.
PT: We would agree – working as directors with many young actors we know how important it is to be off book. What attracted you to Spamalot and to working at Connecticut Repertory Theatre?
RK: I was not a Monty Python zealot but when I screened The Holy Grail and heard the music from the Broadway show, I was hooked. Working two years ago in The Sunshine Boys here [at Connecticut Repertory] was a very rewarding experience.
PT: We can’t wait! What was the best advice you ever were given?
RK: Never leave your wallet in the dressing room
PT: (Laughs) Hysterical. What was the worst criticism?
RK: I don’t read reviews – anymore. The New York Times trashed Something Rotten which I thought was one of the funniest, most inventive shows I’d seen in years. So there ya go.
RK: I read a lot. Just finished The Widow by Fiona Barton.
PT: What does the future hold for you – can you tell us about any projects on which you are currently working?
RK: There is a rom-com movie that will shoot in Boston later this year. Still on the horizon is the Liberace musical All That Glitters in which I play…Liberace.
PT: Wow! Incredible!!! We’ll be there! Our final question is one we love to ask established artists who’ve had long and varied careers. If you could sum up your life and/or career in one word what would it be?
PT: Fantastic! Thank you so much for a fascinating interview!!