Gregg Henry on Scarface, Glee, and acting with (and without) mouth-slugs 

Gregg Henry on Scarface, Glee, and acting with (and without) mouth-slugs 

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Gregg Henry is best known for playing all manner of wealthy, smug douchebags, most notably on series like The Riches and Gilmore Girls. But in a 35-year career littered with numerous one-off TV guest spots, the Colorado native has played a wider variety of roles than people realize: military heroes, serial killers, romantic leads, and goofy rednecks, as well as all those well-off assholes. But it’s really been a surprise seeing him play a stoner-hippie bar owner, as he does in his recurring role in Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new ABC Family series, Bunheads.

Bunheads (2012)—“Rico”
The A.V. Club: When Amy Sherman-Palladino proposed this role to you, what was her sales pitch?

Gregg Henry: It was great. Her sales pitch was, she sent me an email saying, “I wrote this role, I thought of you, and I want you to do it because it would be so great for you to come and play, and I always think of you; the role is Rico. Please come and do this for me. But if you decide you don’t like this role, I’ll write you something else, because I want you in this show. I’m an only child, and I always get what I want.” I thought that was a charming email. But then I got to read the part of Rico, which was, I thought, hilarious and just fun. You’re right, a little bit of a departure from recent things I’ve done. So that’s how the adventure started.

AVC: What made her think of you when she was writing a stoner-hippie bar owner?

GH: Lord knows. She’s got a very active imagination, that one.

AVC: So when you hit the Bunheads set, did it have a similar feeling to Gilmore Girls, even though it was a new show? 

GH: Well, it was because Amy and Dan [Palladino] were there. Amy directed the first one I did, and Daniel directed the second one. My first one was really mostly with Sutton Foster. And she’s great. Then my second one [has] scenes with Kelly Bishop. So we talk about how there is a little bit of a similar feel to Gilmore Girls, but still something new. I think because her voice is so distinct as a writer, and her vision of a show is so clear in her mind, there are similarities that way.

AVC: Is it tough to wrap your mind around the speed of the dialogue? Rico talks a bit slower than most of the cast, but it’s still a speedy show.

GH: Well, I love that. But it is a challenge for Rico to be sort of surfed out, beached out, sun-stroked out [while maintaining] that pace of dialogue for the character. But then you have to beat it all up so it fits in for the speed and pace. So it’s a challenge playing both directions at the same time.

Gilmore Girls (2005-2007)—“Mitchum Huntzberger” 
GH: I had no idea how often it was going to recur, or even if it was going to recur. I just liked the role, and it seemed as if it would. I had no idea what the future would hold for it, and I didn’t know it was going to last that long. I liked that he was a complex guy. He wasn’t just a bold-print stereotype of a rich paper owner. I thought he was very interested in Rory’s career. I do find it amazing that the dedicated fans of Gilmore Girls found me so mean and evil for giving her notes on her writing. I mean, they hate me more for that than for the huge body count I have in many other films. But I like those things. And I thought it was an interesting, non-working relationship with the son, as well. I think he was very human. He was a human character and not a stereotype in any way. So those things are attractive. 

AVC: When you first saw the volume of words you had to speak in this role, was it a surprise? 

GH: No. I think that’s Amy’s signature. It didn’t surprise me at all. It was what I expected. It reminded me of—her work is not similar in many ways—but in some ways, it reminds me of when I did Moonlighting, and Glenn Gordon Caron had a disclaimer at the beginning of his script: Every script, he would say, “It might seem like a lot of words; but, fast-talking producer, there must be fast-talking actors.” It’s something I enjoy, because I like the old sort of capers. The words-are-flying kind of thing. 

Moonlighting (1985)—“Paul McCain”
AVC: That role was pretty early in the show’s run, right? 

GH: Yeah, really early. I daresay the first four or five episodes, somewhere in there. What I remember most about the role is, it was this opening monologue, right? At the end of which—this late-night talk-radio guy who gives advice to the forlorn and the unrequited-love people out there—at the end of this speech, he kills himself. So I was like, “Well, this is cool. I love this speech. It will be, like, one day. We’ll go in, we’ll be done. That’s that.” Then all of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh no, you’re not done; this part goes throughout the whole thing. He faked his suicide.” So all of that came in stages to me. The script was a whole lot of work. It was big fun. 

AVC: Was there any evidence of what happened later in the show between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, some of the tension on the set and the delays, or was it a smooth-running machine that early on? 

GH: Well, it was a new show, as I remember. It was long hours, but there was no tension as of yet between the leading actors. 

AVC: When you were working with Bruce, did you see something in him that you thought might translate to something bigger later on? 

GH: Well, he did seem like a nice guy. We got along real well. You can see he had the stuff. He really had a charisma, magnetism, charm, and a great sense of humor. All of those things were playing all of the time, and you could see that. 

AVC: You were still getting these guest roles. Were you okay with that at that point in your career? 

GH: Well, careers have ebbs and cycles, and you’re always looking up a rung and going, “Well, I’m sure that next rung up would be better.” But I was always very grateful to be working. I don’t know what the year is for that. I have no idea. That [shoot was] after Body Double. So I had been up to the bigs for a cup of coffee, and then I’m back down doing triple-A ball and guest shots again. But I’m playing ball, I’m at the plate, and I’m taking my swings. So it’s all good. You have to be grateful and patient. Those are the things that get you through. 

Scarface (1983)—“Charles Goodson”
GH: I worked with [Brian De Palma] on Scarface, which was just a one-line part, but I got to work with De Palma and [Al] Pacino, so I was like, “Yeah, I’ll take it, but I won’t take credit, right?” The way I auditioned for the role is, I went into Marty Bregman’s office, I sat across from him, and we talked a little bit. He said, “Okay, let’s read the line,” and I read the line, and he went, “Okay, great.” So that’s how I was cast in that. 

AVC: Do you remember the line?

GH: I think it’s, “How do you do, Mr. Montana?” That was a great job. It shot up in Santa Barbara. It was one line, so it was like, “What’s it going to be, one or two days, right?” It ended up being about a week and a half, because the days would take a long time to start. That was the first introduction I had to a really larger-budget movie. So that was a trip. I was extremely excited to meet and work with them. So I had a lot of expectations about that. But then again, I had been working for a few years, and it was the one line. I was confident I could do it, but it was exciting. And then that one or two days turned into like a week and a half because of the weather. We had terrible rain and stuff, and even though all my stuff was inside, you couldn’t have it through the windows. It was an interesting job.

AVC: What was the downtime like, as it was stretching into a week and a half? 

GH: Well, there were a couple of days when we only got one shot. So the schedule just got, like, [pushed] down the line. And then those storms hit, and that’s what pushed it into next week. It was waiting time like it is in the big movies: You hurry up, you sit there, and you just wait. Hang out on the set, talking to other people. 

AVC: Including Pacino? Was he hanging out with all the folks? 

GH: No, no hanging out with Al. But another wonderful actor, Paul Shenar, we hung out. Gosh, I’m trying to remember the other actors that were there. Mark [Margolis]. He played one of his evil assassins. A wonderful New York actor. We all just sort of solved the problems of the world and bullshitted. 

AVC: Why did you decide not to take credit on it? Do you regret that decision now? 

GH: No, I don’t regret it, because at that time, the roles I had been doing… I was a lead in a TV series, a lead in a miniseries, a lead in a lower-budget movie. So a one-line part was a very small thing; it was more like an uncredited cameo, if you will.

Body Double (1984)—“Sam Bouchard”
AVC: De Palma liked you enough from that Scarface shoot to give you a major role in Body Double a couple of years later?

GH: Yeah. He was familiar with my face in the editing room. So when it came time to read for that, he was like, “Oh yeah, I remember this guy.” I had to read for it three or four times, and then do a full-on screen test in order to get the job. But it certainly didn’t hurt that he had seen my face in the editing room before. 

AVC: Had you played evil, sadistic guys at that point? What did you have to do to get in that mindset?

GH: Yeah. I wonder if that was the first move toward villainy; I think it probably was. But it was a larger-than-life sort of villain, with the whole Indian disguise and the plot he hatches in terms of how to accomplish this. So it was to think “villainy,” but to think it on a grand scale. I think you try to get the level of danger and fear that goes in it, but you always try to have just a little bit of a wink at the audience in that size of a villain. I think in [Sam Bouchard’s] conning, he has a good time doing that. So there’s a certain love of the villainy, which is similar to some Shakespeare villains when they come forward and talk. Like Iago or something. They have fun with what they’re doing.

AVC: Did that open things up for you as far as casting directors thinking of you in a different light?

GH: Yeah. Different sorts of roles started to be around. But I don’t know whether it’s… It’s kind of a mixed blessing, to be honest. It opens their minds in one way, and in another way, it shuts their minds off. Many casting directors that open their minds say, “Oh, he can do both.” Then other casting directors go, “Oh, no. He doesn’t play the good guy anymore.”

AVC: How did that show itself?

GH: Well, just over the course of the auditions that you get and the meetings that you get and the roles that you’re getting in to be seen.

AVC: Did that frustrate you at all? Did you say, “Hey, I played good guys before this! I can play a good guy now?”

GH: Well, sure. It’s frustrating, but you learn things over the course of time about the way Hollywood is that are different than you as a young actor might have thought. In some ways, if you can show your versatility on the screen, it’s really good. But in other ways, there’s a kind of American identity that they give to leading actors, and that they want to be consistent. So sometimes it confuses people, I think.

AVC: And do you still see that now, all these years later, or has it changed?

GH: For me personally? I think it’s changed over the years, because the variety of roles has gotten wider and wider. The number of villains is greater, and the ability to move back into sort of friendlier roles also is now open.

The Hunt For The BTK Killer (2005)—“Dennis Rader”
GH: Well, that was a dark, sick [time]. I didn’t have a lot of prep time before we started shooting, any of us, Stephen Kay, the director, or me. I guess I had about eight days before I started after I got the job. And there were lots of interviews, there was lots of videotape, there were crime reports. There were all the morbid details that are written about it. Judith Verno optioned this book, and she was certain the person that wrote the book was going to be the killer. Dennis Rader was actually found out after the option of the book. Then he was set to go to trial, and then he pled guilty, which surprised everybody. And he then had an exclusive interview on 20/20. When he had the interview on 20/20, we were already shooting. There was stuff that he revealed in that, and Stephen Kay burned an all-nighter and tried to incorporate it. So that radically changed the final scene of that movie. That was an intensive bit of work, to get down and then study those interviews and to try to get the essence of him. All of it was constant hard work and constantly remaining in a very dark, dark world. 

AVC: How tough is it to play that dark? Do you take it home? Do you have to decompress after you're done?

GH: Well, it does take a toll. It takes an emotional toll. So it’s tiring. When the whole thing was done, there was a decompression period, as relief and quiet started to take over my mind and my life again. You don’t sleep too well for that whole six weeks.

AVC: Is it because you’re worried about the acting part of it, or is it—

GH: Well, it’s all of that. It’s a big-ass part. It’s a real person. It’s a person/monster that the more you read about, the worse and more depraved he seems to get. Yet you have to keep in mind that he is the head layperson in his church, the head scout master, the guy just living next door.

AVC: Right. And you had to play it that way in parts of the movie, I’m guessing.

GH: You had to play it that way. So you have basically a guy who lives, at least a double life, if not triple and quadruple. And so you have to try to carry all those things and make that believable. So it’s a huge acting commitment. Just from that, it’s hard to sleep. But then it’s like reading about how he murdered people, how many people he murdered, how he murdered a whole family, you don’t sleep too easy on that stuff.

United 93 (2006)—“Col. Robert Marr”
GH: For that movie, I didn’t meet Paul Greengrass. I didn’t read the script. All I read was sides. There was no script for me to read. It was the reputation of Paul Greengrass and the hopes of what this movie might be. And again, it was a no-time situation. They cast me, and then they actually wanted me to fly the very next day. I was like, “Oh, God. Can I have at least one day?” I flew two days later to London. I still hadn’t met Paul Greengrass. I go through makeup. When I met Paul, it was on the set. And the nature of the way he works, there were things he wanted out of these scenes that needed to be said, actually, things that needed to get out in the scenes, but then around that, it’s all improv. I did get a script, actually, but there were huge gappy areas. Where these things need to get out, and then we move forward. So it wasn’t written like a traditional script. 

AVC: Did it feel too soon after 9/11? Did it feel like you had some extra duty to get this story out because of the circumstances?

GH: Well, it did feel soon for everybody. I think that’s true, but by the same token, this is going to be in a great filmmaker’s hands, so I think it’s going to be done well. And I think the responsibility you feel to get it right was also there. There was a lot of investigation. At that point in time, if you put in “United 93” and you hit your Google search, you would hit conspiracy theories for 34 pages. So it was hard to even dig and find what was going to be the story and what was going to be the approach he was going to take. And of course, it was very factual and highly researched, and done with great cooperation from the military. This reveals itself as you’re there. You know what I mean? It just was. There was not a lot of time to worry about it. And then, boom, you’re gone.

Rich Man, Poor Man—Book II (1976-77)—“Wesley Jordache”
GH: Oh yeah. I’d trained at the University of Washington and had a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting. And then I worked all the Seattle stages—ACT, Seattle Rep—and then I came to L.A. to be in the movies. I was down in San Diego and worked down there at the old Globe Theater doing Shakespeare. I was understudying the role of Orlando in As You Like It. That’s where a person saw me and recommended me to the casting person for Rich Man, Poor Man—Book II. So I was down there, making $65 a week carrying spears and understudying roles. I had some roles, too. I played Silvius from As You Like It and an understudy of Orlando. But then I got to go up and audition. Monday was a day off. I had a screen test Tuesday. William Morris signed me Tuesday. By Friday, I had the job. The next Monday, I was shooting it. 

AVC: Had you seen the original miniseries?

GH: It was a big, big deal, but I was a broke young actor doing telephone sales and Shakespeare. I didn’t have a TV. So I did not see it.

AVC: So there was no perspective of, “This is a huge project I’m on”?

GH: Oh, no. I wouldn’t say that. I was cognizant of how lucky I’d been, and how great it was to have gotten this, and of the size and scope of the miniseries in terms of the press that had written about it. And so I knew that.

[pagebreak]

AVC: How did you feel about it being your first big job? 

GH: Oh, I was jumping up and down. Are you kidding? I was so excited. It never seemed like a workload to me. I was like, “Bring it on.” I was very excited about it. I felt good. I felt confident. Probably too young and stupid to be afraid. But I was just really, really excited about it.

Matlock (1987-1995)—Various characters
Murder, She Wrote (1985-1996)—Various characters
AVC: How do you get in a groove on a series like that, where they’re just calling you back every year or two to do a different role?

GH: I don’t really have any idea, but I would look to thank Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote, because she was very involved in making sure the actors were well taken care of, and making sure the actors she wanted were on the show. I don’t know for certain, but I think that might be part of the reason why I went back in different capacities. She’s just a great lady, and a great actor. Just a great leading actor on a series, in terms of her approach to casting.

AVC: What was her approach like? 

GH: Well, like I said, she had an idea of somebody she would want. She would say, “Well, go get this person.” The first one I did, I think was called “Broadway Melody” or something. [“Broadway Malady” —ed.] All these wonderful Broadway actors that she brought in. And when I say “she brought in,” I’m sure she just said, “Eh, what about…?” Then they went and did it. 

AVC: Because she’s Angela Lansbury.

GH: Yeah. And this is what I think, but do I know? No. I’m not certain. I mean, was it the producers and the casting director each and every time? I’m not certain. On Matlock, I’m sorry to see Andy [Griffith] just passed away, because I worked with Andy actually in The Yeagers as well way back when. But I don’t know how that is. I think it’s like, you do the work, and they’re pleased with what you do the first time, so they ask you back. I just always try to do my best and hope for the best.

AVC: That seemed to be the nature of the shows in the ’80s, in that era where the same guy could play different roles three years apart, and they’re like, “Eh, the viewers won’t notice.” Was that the prevailing attitude then?

GH: I don’t know if it was that people aren’t going to notice. I think it was more, “These are actors… they play different parts.” It’s a different part. It’s not going to be played exactly the same. It’s going to be a different person. And it was a little less stringent in terms of rules from the network regarding that sort of stuff. I think the network now says you can’t double up a number of times or something.

The Riches (2007-08)—“Hugh Panetta”
GH: That’s my favorite.

AVC: One of your favorite roles, or one of your favorite shows?

GH: One of my favorite roles. I loved that role and I loved that show. Yeah. It was just always great, exciting, fresh stuff to do.

AVC: At first, Hugh looked like the usual Gregg Henry role, kind of the smug asshole kind of role, but it went well beyond that.

GH: Yeah. It did. I think it was another situation where I don’t know that the character when they first conceived it was going to be in it quite as much, but he just turned out to be a character the writers loved to write, and I had the great fortune of being able to play. So he increased in terms of his humanity and his scope, and became a much more layered character, while also retaining a little smug a-holeness.

AVC: He did some pretty depraved stuff here and there.

GH: That depends on your notion of depravity.

AVC: Was Eddie Izzard’s way of doing things different, because he came from the world of stand-up comedy?

GH: Well, he’s a wonderful actor, and he was just an actor in this part, but as you know, he’s a brilliant comedian. Just give him a floor, and he’ll give you 20 minutes, if you want. But he’s not the kind of a comedian that always has to be on, or anything like that. He’s very much another actor working on this. But I think the great thing is that the writers and producers figured out a way to have little setpieces in each show where he did a role. You know what I mean? So that’s where the comedian was woven into the role and into the series. But Eddie himself was just a prince. He’s just a wonderful guy to work with, and he made it a great job to go to.

AVC: Knowing FX’s history with shows, do you think it got the shot it needed? 

GH: Oh, gosh. Well, we were in the middle of the writers’-strike thing. So that second season, the writers’ strike hit, and we just never made it back to production after that. I think there were some financial problems in terms of whether Fox was going to put up more money to bring it back. And I think because of the downtime, because of the writers’ strike, it was just a really unfortunate piece of timing. 

AVC: The show was starting to take a pretty dark, complicated turn at that point in that second season.

GH: Yeah. Absolutely. But it began dark and complicated. You remember that car crash? When that car crash happened with the family in the pilot, and they go and take stuff, you go, “Wow. What am I watching?” Not to mention going to get Minnie [Driver’s character] out of prison and everything. So it’s not a normal place for a TV mom to start the series. 

EZ Streets (1997)—“Carl Eiling”
GH: We plugged away for a lot of episodes before it was on the air. It was not like we were considering what the network was thinking in terms of their broadcast philosophy while we were doing it. And it was utterly mysterious. It came on and it got reviews that you just could not write for yourself. I think it was on the cover of Time magazine as “the great new show” or something. There was just phenomenal press. And it was canceled within two weeks. I don’t know why, really.

AVC: Do you get to the point where you’re just like, “You know what? I’m not going to ask why this stuff happens”?

GH: You have to have that mindset, ultimately. It doesn’t stop you from going, “Jesus. Why did this happen?” But ultimately, you just don’t have any control over it. It’s hard to say.

Payback (1999)—“Val Resnick”
GH: Oh, I just loved this character from the moment I read it. Sometimes you read a character and you just go, “I know this guy.” An image hits your head of what he is and who he is. And that was very much the case with this. Marion Dougherty was the casting director on that, and I read for her and Brian Helgeland, the director. They loved it, and they loved me. Then it was about two months until Mel [Gibson] saw the audition and gave the okay. That was a long and torturous time.

AVC: While waiting for Mel to give the thumbs-up?

GH: Yeah. Because he was promoting something else. He was on this world tour and everything, so we had to wait for quite a while before I got the word that I got the part. Working with Mel was great. He was very generous and open. I didn’t meet him until we were in Chicago at the first table read. And table reads are often interesting, because you meet people, but you don’t know, really. Oftentimes it’s just like the words are coming out. Some people are aiming more for what the performance is going to be, and other people are just clocking where they are in the picture.

AVC: What do you do when you’re on a table read? What did Mel do?

GH: Well, I tend to do the work. I tend to see what’s flying. And Mel’s a little closer to that at the table read. So it was really… once we got on our feet, we kind of found out what each other was going to do.

AVC: Is it a weird experience when you’re there in the rehearsal studio, and you’re shaking everybody’s hands, and half an hour later you’ve got your coffee, and you’re sitting down at a big table trying to act out the movie? How hard is it to feel that out every time you do a new project?

GH: Well, it’s always the first thing you’ve got to do aside from those ones that decide not to even have a table read or a rehearsal. But it’s very much like the experience from theater. You all get there, and you read the play for the first time just so you see where you stand. It’s different in movies, because a lot of movies don’t rehearse. De Palma for Body Double fully rehearsed that. We rehearsed for a full 10 days before we started shooting. The floor was taped out just like a theater. Just like we knew what the sets were going to be. But a lot of directors don’t like that. They like to do it a different way. So people come to those table reads in film and television with a different sort of background or expectation. But really, all it is, is just to get the words out for the first time, and hear the words back. The more you stay that simple in your expectation, the better it is, I think. 

AVC: And there was no indication that Mel was going to have those problems that he had down the line?

GH: No, no. There were no indications from Mel at all. The shooting time on that was great. And we were in Chicago for six weeks, an Indian summer. It was perfect. And the backlot at Warner’s for another six weeks. That’s how we shot that. It then had to go through re-shoots, but I was not a part of any of the re-shoots. Those all happened after my character died. But the movie that was made was ultimately quite a different movie than was originally written, or that we originally shot. And if you want to find that movie, you go for Brian Helgeland’s cut. [It’s called Payback: Straight Up —ed.]

AVC: When that happens, are you disappointed by it, that they change it that much?

GH: Ultimately, I thought it worked, what they did. I thought they made a movie that worked really well. But it had more explosions. It had the whole kidnapping thing in it. It added Kris Kristofferson. It was a different movie in many ways. At first I was like, “What the hell?” But then as I looked at it, I went, “Wait, this works.”

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)—“Gallatin”
GH: I was three hours in the makeup chair. A specky-face guy. If you remember the story, F. Murray Abraham was the lead villain of these people who—they all were once part of a beautiful race—but then he did something that got him outcast and started to age, and plastic surgery became the way of life. And so these faces are just like stitched together. So we were all people who had tons and tons of surgeries, so that’s what our faces looked like. 

AVC: When you’re with a cast that has been together for that many years, do they bring that kind of, “Hey, this is how we operate” vibe to a movie set?

GH: Oh, well, yes they do. Absolutely. And they do it in a great way, because that was under the direction of Jonathan Frakes, who was captain and the director. It was a very wonderful sense of camaraderie and, “Let’s have a good time while we’re making this movie.” It’s funny. I’m working with Jonathan Frakes right now, actually, shooting an episode of Leverage.

White Collar (2012)—“Henry Dobbs”
AVC: And you’re in the season première of White Collar?

GH: Well, I don’t want to give away too much. But he’s a guy who lives on an island and gives sanctuary to Matt Bomer’s character, protection on the island for a nominal fee.

AVC: What difference do you see when you’re shooting an episode of White Collar, as opposed to shooting something a little more complicated, like The Riches or 24?

GH: Well, it is and it isn’t. I mean, it’s not every time you act and go and do it, it’s like you’re controlling what you do. You’re the person that has the ultimate responsibility of bringing something to the table. So you’ve got to bring the very best that you can within your limitations. 

AVC: Have your varied roles and varied projects given you a skill where you can adjust to short lead times or larger demands?

GH: You have to, because you’ve got to be alone in a crowd. You have to find where you sit in this thing, and you can’t be too overly concerned or pushed by whatever circumstance you enter into, because your time is always going to be only so much. So if you get too much into that, it’s just a distraction.

Slither (2006)—“Jack MacReady”
GH: Yeah. Mayor Jack. I loved that movie. I think that movie is hilarious. It makes me laugh. And it’s got great scares in it. I think it’s just tons of fun. I think James Gunn is a big talent who knows how to mash up genres and really come up with something great.

AVC: Are you playing to the funny part? What do you have to balance when you’re doing that kind of thing?

GH: Well, my obligation was that. I’ve got to be scared shitless by the monster like everybody else, and by the zombies. But it’s a full-on comedy from my side of things. And oh God, did we laugh. I mean, there are a lot of funny people on that. But the scares and all of that, that’s in James’ hands.

AVC: What was a good example of on-set joking around?

GH: Oh, I don’t know. It’s like when she’s pregnant with all the slugs, the lady in the barn. And it explodes and it goes flying out, and I’m supposed to slip and fall. Then they’re getting in my mouth, these slugs and all that. Well, of course, you’re imagining all that stuff, and it’s just like “action,” it happens, and I go out and I dive on the ground. I’m swimming in it. I’m covering my mouth and everything. And James is over there directing, just laughing the whole time. “No! No! Cover your mouth!” He’s just howling the whole time, because I look like an idiot. There’s nothing there, you’re just sort of doing it. But that’s an example. And another example, there’s a great take that Elizabeth Banks and I do when we see that the guy’s not dead and he’s become zombified. We do one of those double takes like [motorboat noise] and head off to the right. And James hated it every time. He’d go, “No, no.” But he kept laughing every time. And I said, “Well, you keep laughing.” He was like, “Yeah.” Finally we did one that was without it, but we used the one that had the [motorboat noise] take, because it was hilarious. 

Glee (2009)—“Russell Fabray”
AVC: You played Quinn’s dad.

GH: Yes. Little Quinn.

AVC: That set is notorious for all the kids being on set for hours and hours at a time rehearsing and doing all the work they need to do to get these musical numbers done. Did you see any of that?

GH: No, unfortunately. I got to sort of feel it, because they all were like, “Okay, I’ve got to go for a dance rehearsal,” and “Okay, I’ve got to go for a recording session,” and things like that. But since I wasn’t in any of the musical numbers, I didn’t see it. But they worked long, hard hours. That’s a lot of work to get all that stuff down. They were just heads-down working. Because it was a pretty full-tilt hit already.

Simon & Simon (1984)—“Bryan Gatewood”
GH: I can’t remember what I played at all. 

AVC: Does it get to a point when you’ve done so many things, you’re just, “Yeah, I have no idea…”?

GH: Well, I’ve got to say, with the episodics, it does a little bit. I’m ashamed to say that, but that was a long time ago, Simon & Simon.

AVC: Yeah. Probably almost 30 years ago.

GH: Yeah. On the Universal lot back when Scottie was at the gate. That was a long time ago.

AVC: So you remember who was the guard at the gate, you just don’t remember anything about—

GH: Well, but Rich Man, Poor Man—Book II shot there as well. So that’s why I remember Scottie at the gate.

AVC: Yeah. But those one-offs kind of run together at a certain point?

GH: Yeah. They kind of do, unless there’s something really memorable about the role.

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