Meet actor Ted Rooney
December 9, 2016
Artists Rep’s Marketing Department intern Maddie Odegaard sat down with Portland native and actor Ted Rooney, who plays Abraham Lincoln in A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS, to talk post-election, stage acting and being Morey on The Gillmore Girls.
MO: How do you think A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS ties into the charged political atmosphere after the election?
TR: The cast had a big decompressing the morning after the election. There were a lot of tears. I was crying all day. I realized, it was weird, but I needed to mourn. I was just in complete shock. Part of the conversation is, what if the Civil War had been lost by the North? That is what [the election] felt like. And then we also talked about, was it really the best thing? What if the North had let the South secede in the first place? I’d never really thought of that as a possible, long-term option. It came up [in conversation] that not much was resolved with the Civil War. The things that were on paper resolved, weren’t in reality changed that much, just altered … I thought about what if Lincoln had just said, “Okay, we’re going to draw a line and now we are this and you are that.” One thing’s for sure, a lot of lives would have been saved and maybe then the [country] would have been forced to deal with the issue.
There is a scene in the play where I, as Abe, am constructing my second inaugural speech, which is perhaps Abe’s greatest. He addresses the war and recovering from its decimation. When I am saying the words: “fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, with malice for none, with charity for all, may we strive to finish the work we are in – to bind up the nation's wounds,” I mostly am thinking about our nation as it is. Very current for me personally.
MO: How has The Gilmore Girls revival played out for you?
TR: I play such a small part on the show that GG has never really been a part of my life. In the end, my experience as an actor is on stage, I spend hours and days with all these people. With the GG people, I would spend one day every month with them. And so it really wasn’t my community. I just had to put on a costume and be tall. I’m very good at being tall! The acting that I did in LA never really registered, even though that was probably better known.
Occasionally, in some airport, someone will come up to me and say, “Oh you’re Morey!” and take a picture with me … [it’s] so random where it happens because the show’s known all over the world. The first time it really became surreal was last month. There was a yearly gathering of GG fans in Connecticut. Really the stars that were there were the townspeople, the small character people in Stars Hollow but they had a red carpet event and folks were just going nuts, screaming my name. There were like 1,500 people there. Only in this small town, only for us.
MO: Do you prefer stage acting then?
TR: For artistic satisfaction, I do. If I were to have a lead role in a movie, that would clearly vie for the same thing. I’ve had a lot of small roles, but it’s not as challenging. When I moved to LA, my plan was that on camera work would support my theatre habit, so that it would remind me where my true heart of an actor was – in telling stories. Even though [on camera work] is high profile and people on the outside looking in think that must be very satisfying… as an artist, it’s just not.
MO: How do you think audiences will react to A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS?
TR: We tried to find ways to bring current conversation and deeper meaning to the production. I think it’s a really good show for the whole family, in that it’s entertaining, it’s fun, it makes you think about things, and the good parts of what draw everybody in to see a show are in this show.
At the same time, there are some contrasts and some ironies. There are juxtapositions that have to be grappled with as a human. That’s what we want, once we have this captive audience, to actually challenge them with the play. A lot of the folks that come [to the theatre] are the privileged ones, but they’re also the more enlightened privileged ones. So, it’s almost like preaching to the choir. However, I consider myself in that group, yet I still need to be challenged, reminded, and made uncomfortable because it is so easy to drift. It’s like any truth in life; we may believe it, but it’s easy to drift. It’s like any tradition, you drift towards comfort. So even if we believe with all of our heart, we have to be reminded and we have to be made uncomfortable and put ourselves in places where we are uncomfortable.
Ted makes his Artists Rep debut with A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS, click HERE to read Ted’s bio.
A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS runs through Dec. 23. More HERE.