InDepth InterView: Victor Garber Talks NY Pops Gala, Plus New THE FLASH Spin Off Series, Upcoming Films & More
Today we are talking to a remarkably accomplished triple-threat star of stage and screen who has appeared in countless memorable properties over the course of his forty-year career thus far, the affable and recognizable Victor Garber. Discussing his participation in this year's annual NY Pops 32nd Birthday Gala and his longstanding creative relationship with the honorees at the one night only event, acclaimed Broadway and Hollywood director Rob Marshall and his sister, Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, Garber looks back at their collaborations over the years, including his work in the Disney TV presentation of ANNIE, the popular 1990s revival of DAMN YANKEES as well as much more. Additionally, Garber offers first news on his hotly anticipated new THE FLASH spin-off TV series and shares how the outspoken support for the hit series has yielded this new venture and what fans can expect from the new CW superhero spectacular. Plus, Garber also opens up about his many upcoming film roles, including CONSUMED, SELF/LESS and more. Furthermore, Garber looks back at some of his most notable roles from stage and screen, including his memorable appearances on GLEE, DAMAGES and ELI STONE in addition to his prominent role in the recent Academy Award-winning Best Picture ARGO and his work onstage in the legendary original production of SWEENEY TODD, as well as TARTUFFE, DEATHTRAP and much, much more in a wide-ranging conversation with one of Broadway and Hollywood's absolute best.
More information on the NY Pops 32nd Birthday Gala at Carnegie Hall on May 4 is available at the official site here.
Day By Day
PC: You and Rob Marshall have a longstanding artistic partnership. Many may know the connection from ANNIE, but that was certainly not your first time working together, was it?
VG: Oh, no, no, no, no! I believe the very first time I met him was when we were working on the San Diego production of DAMN YANKEES.
PC: Which went on to become an iconic role of yours, of course.
VG: I remember that Jack O'Brien directed and not only did Rob choreograph the show, but Kathleen assisted him
PC: They kept it in the family even back then.
VG: Yeah, they did.
PC: And your co-star Bebe Neuwirth will be appearing with you in the NY Pops concert, as well.
VG: Yes! She will. It's a nice reunion for all of us - the DAMN YANKEES family back together again.
PC: Is Applegate one of your personal favorite roles? It's quite an iconic portrayal.
VG: You know, Pat, it's really hard because I try not to really have favorites in my life because almost everything has something extraordinary about it - both good and bad. But, yes, that was an incredibly creative and extremely satisfying time for me doing DAMN YANKEES, both in San Diego and when we did it on Broadway. It was a great, great experience.
PC: Your hosting of the TONY AWARDS in character as Applegate that year was unforgettable - what a brilliant idea, and follow-through!
VG: Oh, thank you so much for saying that! That's so nice to hear. It seems about a lifetime ago now, though! [Laughs.]
PC: I recently wrote a feature about demon-themed musicals and you made two of the Top 10 between DAMN YANKEES and the SWEENEY TODD. It seems to be a bit of a career theme for you - SWEENEY was one of your first roles, was it not?
VG: Yes, it was. Let's see, I guess I had done DEATHTRAP right before and then they cast me in SWEENEY TODD.
PC: Two murderous pieces in a row.
VG: Yes! Definitely! I remember that Hal [Prince] had said that he had seen me in TARTUFFE and had decided based on that that I was a good option for Anthony in SWEENEY - from that of all things!
PC: A clasisc Moliere comedy to a brand new Sondheim horror musical!
VG: I guess so! He saw something about me that he felt would be right for SWEENEY, though. To be honest, when looking back it all kind of blends into one kind of long career for me, though! [Laughs.]
PC: Especially with all that you have done.
VG: I can never remember what came first! That's always the problem.
PC: You are a true multimedia presence, both then and now. Was it a thrill to see ARGO go on to win Best Picture recently?
VG: Oh, yeah! It was unbelievably thrilling. Plus, I am Canadian, too, so that was just an extra added sort of plus having been a part of it. But, to answer your question: yes, I was so proud of Ben [Affleck] and so impressed with the way that he worked. He was such a great director and it was such a great experience being a part of making that movie - it was a real ensemble. And, I will add that, as serious as it was, we all had a lot of fun together because it was such great people - it was a lot of fun to have drinks after shooting with that cast! [Laughs.]
PC: I can imagine!
VG: A great, great group of people - I loved working with them all.
PC: A bit of a paean on the great ensemble films of the 1970s, too.
VG: Right. Right. Exactly.
PC: Did you know happen to know Ben through Jennifer Garner, whom you famously co-starred with on ALIAS for many years?
VG: Yeah, that's basically how we met. When Jen and I were doing ALIAS together they started dating and that's how we met. So, I knew him through her - absolutely; that's how our paths crossed. Of course, Jen and I are extremely close. So, then, we all ended up being friends and working together.
PC: How wonderful.
VG: It goes even further, though, because I actually married them - there's that little sort of historical tidbit, as well.
PC: Officiating their wedding, no less.
VG: Yes - it was kind of extraordinary. It was a very special thing to be involved in, both for me and my partner. We had a great time.
PC: You seem very supportive of Ben, then, as well.
VG: Absolutely - he is a real force and so talented, too.
PC: Would you enjoy re-teaming with him in the future, whether as fellow actors or under his direction?
VG: Oh, of course! You know, I've learned not to hold onto or look for those things too much anymore - you know, with all the things I've worked on, if you get to work with somebody twice or more than once on anything, it's wonderful. It's a lot like working with Robbie - he's just in a different sphere almost now with how his career has taken off. He's just... away.
PC: He's truly one of Hollywood's top directors these days.
VG: He is - without question. What's really most important to me, though, more than working together, is that we get to see each other and have dinner now and then because I just love him as a person. Robbie is one of those people that, once you are together again, it's like you never were apart.
PC: A truly familiar feel - as we were discussing earlier.
VG: It really is. We just pick up exactly where we left off and it's just great.
PC: Doesn't he live right near Ina Garten, as well, who is also a friend? What fabulous dinners those must be!
VG: Yes. He does! There are pictures of them together all over the house - he and his partner John [DeLuca] are actually in some of her books, for God's sake! [Laughs.]
PC: How delicious!
VG: Definitely! But, yes, it's a beautiful, beautiful house that they have out in the Hamptons and we love going there. But, I haven't seen him in a long time, actually, so I am very much looking forward to this night coming up with the NY Pops - it is going to be a great, great night.
PC: Looking over your recent resume, you did such a sensational job on the final season of DAMAGES. Was that a special thrill to be a part of that great series?
VG: Yeah, it was. To be honest with you, though, I feel like I was barely involved with that show - and it's all so complex I still really don't know who I really played! [Laughs.]
PC: It was certainly a labyrinth, to say the least.
VG: I mean, I was so happy to be there and so happy to be a part of it. I barely remember doing it, thinking about it now, but it is always an honor to be a part of something that good - no matter in what capacity. It wasn't much to play for me, though.
PC: Of course, 30 ROCK and GLEE and LOUIE are other one-offs and limited arcs that many know you from, as well.
VG: Right. Right. Right. It's always fun to do those sorts of brief things when you have the chance, I've found.
PC: What are your thoughts on the new TV landscape and the various platforms and predominance of binge-watching now?
VG: Well, I just accept it for what it is, more or less. Personally, I'm not really a binge-watcher - I pretty much just watch DOWNTON ABBEY! I don't really watch that much TV myself, to be perfectly honest with you. I feel like I have missed so much, though - I mean, I still haven't seen THE WIRE! I feel so out of touch. Basically all I watch besides DOWNTON ABBEY is CBS SUNDAY MORNING! [Laughs.]
PC: Both quality programs, for sure.
VG: It's great, though, I think - It's a great way of doing it and it makes a lot of sense for the format, I think. I mean, listen, the world had changed and one just tries to go along with it and figure out how to fit in, you know?
PC: Adapt or perish.
VG: Exactly. But, to answer your question: I am thrilled that there are so many options for working on television now - much, much more than there used to be. And, I think that the quality of television has just become so high and so extraordinary now - I mean, there is always something interesting to watch.
PC: The possibilities are seemingly endless.
VG: They are. So, yeah, I think the changes are great.
PC: It seems like an entirely new age.
VG: It does. Actually, I was watching the HBO Sinatra documentary yesterday - have you seen those yet?
PC: Of course - they were utterly brilliant; both parts. I was blown away.
VG: Blown away! That's how I was, too! Just, like, wow! I mean, how different the world is now! I mean, he was a little bit before my time, but I grew up with my mother being a fantastic for Frank Sinatra, so seeing the world change and seeing how Sinatra adapted - that clip of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra! And, now, we are seeing a whole new generation come into their own and we are somewhere else entirely. It's incredible to have been around this long and to see the changes - it's really kind of exhilarating.
PC: Speaking of the revolutionary changes in TV, what are your thoughts on frequent collaborators Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and their live TV musicals?
VG: Oh, well, listen: I think it's great. Of course, sometimes it works better than other times, but, you know, it's great that they can bring live musicals to the masses and hopefully that will inspire people to then go out and see a Broadway show. That's really the hope with it all.
PC: Would you be interested in participating in a live musical broadcast such as THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE!?
VG: Sure! Yes! Absolutely. They haven't asked me yet, but I hope they do. If it came to pass, I would certainly participate. I think that they are exemplary producers and they always have great people involved in all of their various productions. I feel like, again, we shared some of our early days together - at least their early days; like with Rob and Kathleen and I - and now they are in another sphere thanks to all of their success.
PC: It's unbelievable that time has passed so quickly and they are now considering doing THE MUSIC MAN again after having done it with you more than 10 years ago on TV.
VG: Oh, that's right! I heard about that, too. Isn't that wild?! But, you know, I do think that THE MUSIC MAN would lend itself very well to that genre and fit as a live television event like that very well.
PC: Of course, there may not be a role for you in THE WIZ unfortunately.
VG: [Laughs.] Perhaps not! Actually, though, THE WIZ is one of those shows that I have never had the opportunity to see myself, so I am very much looking forward to seeing that, as an audience member.
PC: Is it true that you are getting ready to headline a new DC Comics series that is a spin-off from CW's THE FLASH?
VG: Yes, that is true - it is absolutely true.
PC: How exciting! What a huge fan-base that series has.
VG: It does. They are going to unveil more details about it soon - I believe they are going to do something for it in May at the upfronts.
PC: What are you allowed to tell us about it?
VG: Well, as you said, it's a spin-off from THE FLASH, which I have been working on for a few seasons. To be honest, it is very wild for me that at this point of my life I am now in that world - I am now a half-superhero!
PC: How spectacular!
VG: The character I play is half of Firestorm, so conjoined - together - they are Firestorm. It's been very wild and fun for me to do it.
PC: How did you become involved with THE FLASH in the first place?
VG: Well, Greg Berlanti is the creator of all of these shows and there are three writers total - Greg along with Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg - and I did ELI STONE with all of them, so I have very wonderful relationship with them from that period. That is one of my very favorite things that I have done - although it was a show that never really took off.
PC: It was ahead of its time in a lot of respects, no doubt.
VG: It really was. It was a precursor to a lot of other shows, I think - and, frankly, I think it had a lot to offer. But, like anything else, the public wasn't ready for it or whatever so it didn't really catch on, but I thought it was really special. So, I am very happy to be reunited with Greg and these other fellows on this new endeavor.
PC: It has a lot of buzz already, needless to say.
VG: Yeah, I think it's going to be a very fun ride. I really honestly can't tell you much about it except it is completely new and it will involve a lot of interesting people.
PC: Did you film a pilot?
VG: No. We haven't filmed any of it yet - but, it is going straight to series.
PC: How fortuitous.
VG: We start filming in August and it will be on in January.
PC: Will it be on the CW, as well?
VG: Yes, it will be on the CW.
PC: What a fabulous cast, too - with Broadway breakout star Ciara Renee, no less.
VG: Yes, it's so many interesting people involved with it - Ciara and Arthur Darvill and Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell and Brandon Routh and Caity Loz. I am very much looking forward to working with all of them on it. They are all really great people.
PC: What a way to get in with a whole new generation and fan-base, as well!
VG: I know! It's crazy - it's crazy! I am still kind of in shock about it all, frankly. It's unbelievable to me.
PC: Besides your TV work and the NY Pops gala, you also have a number of new films coming out in the next several months, as well.
VG: I do.
PC: Tell me about SELF/LESS, directed by the visionary Tarsem Singh.
VG: Yes. We filmed that quite a long time ago. I've heard that it's turned out really, really well - even better than they anticipated. So, now, they are saving the release for later in the year, I believe - to be honest, I have no idea how they actually do these things. But, it was really fascinating to work on it and Sir Ben Kingsley was a part of it so I had the honor of working with him, which was a joy. And, of course, Ryan Reynolds is great and Matthew Goode is fantastic - I unfortunately didn't get to work with Matthew, but we did have dinner. It was a great experience, actually, and I am very curious to see the finished film - very curious, actually.
PC: THE CELL and MIRROR, MIRROR and his other films are so unique, so it will hopefully be something on that level.
VG: I hope so, too. You know, he's really interesting to work with and we had a really, really great time. You know, like with all movies, you never know what to expect with the final product, but I think everyone is very happy with it - so, that's very exciting.
PC: CONSUMED is another film of yours coming up soon.
VG: Oh, that's what it's called now?
PC: Yes! I see it has had a few different titles.
VG: I'm going to have to call you to find out what I am doing from now on, Pat! [Laughs.]
PC: Feel free!
VG: Yes. CONSUMED is the new title - it was called FOOD when I was working on it. It was directed by some young filmmakers who are very talented and very serious - a very inventive young couple - and I am so curious to see how that worked out, as well. I have no idea. But, yes, it was a labor of love for everybody involved and I loved doing it - Elizabeth Marvel played my wife and we had never worked together before, so that was a real treat; I love Beth. So, I am very curious to see that - I have no idea what it will be like.
PC: You and Elizabeth Marvel is a great pair, for sure.
VG: I loved working with her and I hope we get the chance to do something together again. Of course, she is getting ready to do MISERY on Broadway now, or will be - I am curious to see what that will be like, but I am sure she will be fantastic in it.
PC: Touching back on horror, are you a fan of the genre yourself?
VG: Not specifically - I like good stories and I like good acting. If it gets too horror-y, it's not my cup of tea - I don't like violence particularly unless it is sort of inherent in the plot. I am very anxious to see MISERY onstage actually.
Photo Credits: Walter McBride, The CW, etc.