Kidnapped (2006-07)—“Conrad Cain”

AVC: Speaking of closure, NBC’s Kidnapped did end up delivering an ending, but it was frustrating for viewers to start on something as serialized as that series and have it pulled out from under them.


TH: Yeah, that was an interesting show, because some of the cast members were signed on as series regulars, and the concept with that was that every year there would be a new kidnapping. Some of the investigators could continue, and I guess they would change out the family or the people around the family of the person kidnapped, but they’d have a new kind of kidnapping every year. For example, Dana Delaney and I were only signed on for that first year, but some of the other actors were signed on for a regular series run should it go longer. It was a very dark story, but there were very well-written scenes to play, and it was great fun working with Dana Delaney, and with Ricky Jay.

AVC: What do you think was the downfall of Kidnapped? Do you think audiences were being bombarded with too many serialized dramas to keep up with them all?


TH: I don’t know. You never know how these things work and what exactly is going to grab an audience. Sometimes even the best material and the best collection of people interpreting that material just for some reason doesn’t fly with people. All of these things that we do, they’re contingent on people being interested in it, and if they’re not, it doesn’t mean it didn’t work on some level, but it means it didn’t work on a lot of other levels. There are a lot of TV shows or movies that maybe aren’t as good as others that do work when it comes to finding an audience. It’s a mystery, that whole thing. If somebody figured it out, this would be quite a great industry.

Never Too Late (1965)—“Boy Running To His Daddy” (uncredited)

AVC: We try to go as far as back in an actor’s on-camera history as we possibly can, and in your case, it looks like it was actually an uncredited appearance in the film Never Too Late as a boy running to his daddy.


TH: Yes! That’s right. I think that was in… 1964?

AVC: Well, it was released in ’65, so, yeah, it probably happened in ’64. Were you on the set visiting your father [actor Jim Hutton] and they needed a boy?


TH: Yeah, that’s more or less what that was. We were visiting my father, and he had this idea that he came up with that it’d be great to have me be a part of this flashback scene. You know, it seemed kind of random, but I think it was probably a little more planned in advance, because they were doing a scene that required that, so my dad probably a week in advance decided to ask or something. But that was a pretty cool experience! [Laughs.]

AVC: At what point did you officially decide that you were going to follow in your father’s footsteps, career-wise?


TH: I don’t remember a specific time that I decided I was going to do it. I was interested in sports, I was interested in music, I was interested in maybe going to school to become an architect. I did a play with my dad when… I think I was 16 or 17. He was doing a play up in Santa Cruz, he was doing The Heart, and there was a little part of a cab driver who comes in at the end of the play, and he asked me if I wanted to do it with him—it was going to take place over the summer—and I said, “Yeah.” It was always kind of fun to me, not anything I was taking too seriously. I enjoyed doing the play with him, and then maybe a year later I did a TV movie, and I had a really interesting experience doing that. It was Friendly Fire. But even through Ordinary People, I still didn’t know if that was going to end up being what I was going to do for a living. I know that sounds kind of strange, but I guess because I wasn’t someone who always wanted to be an actor. It was slow in coming where I realized, “Okay, well, this is what I’m going to be doing.”

The Ghost Writer (2010)—“Sidney Kroll”

TH: Oh, yes. Roman Polanski. That was a great experience, doing that. We filmed it in Germany and Poland, and just working with him… I mean, my memory of that is not so much of the character, although it was certainly an interesting character on paper and getting to play, but watching Roman work, and his specific attention to detail, and how involved he was with every part of the set, whether it be the costume or where someone was at, the color on the wall, the picture and where it was in relation to the frame. He was so hands-on with everything. He even operated the camera, because to him it made him feel closer to what the character was doing and the behavior of the character. It’s very interesting to watch him work.

Beautiful Girls (1996)—“Willie Conway”

TH: One of the greatest, most fun experiences I’ve ever had working with a cast or working with a director, Ted Demme. It was a wonderful, amazing script by Scott Rosenberg and a very special set of circumstances playing that character, Willie, and the relationship with the Natalie Portman character, and how well that was played by her and how well she was directed by Ted. It was just one of those experiences where everything about it just came together and was one of the really great memories that I’ve had working and being around a very special group of people.


AVC: Have you developed more or less of a fondness for Neil Diamond as a result of that film?

TH: [Laughs.] Probably more! Although I always liked Neil Diamond.

Zuma Beach (1978)—“Art”

TH: [Laughs.] Yeah, I was basically a sight gag. Because the whole idea of the role I was playing was that the main lifeguard—I was the assistant lifeguard—was a very athletic-looking, muscular person who you know is able to kick ass and save lives, and if anyone’s having trouble in the water, you’re in good hands with this lifeguard.


The assistant lifeguard, on the other hand, which was the idea behind the character, would be just the opposite: a skinny, kind of bewildered 18-year-old kid or whatever who barely has a license to be a lifeguard and doesn’t appear to be able to do anything in a crisis. [Laughs.] And that was all done with us standing next to each other, and since I was quite a skinny 18-year-old… well, like I said, that was a role of being a sight gag. But it was fun.

Turk 182 (1985)—“Jimmy Lynch”

TH: Oh, Turk 182 was a blast. Whenever I think of Turk 182, I think of a scene where the character is on the 59th Street Bridge, hooking up lights to read “Turk 182,” and the police arrive, and they’re telling him, “Get down off of the bridge!” And I was actually up there! I was hooked to cables, and we were filming on the Fourth Of July, so there were fireworks going off—up river, down river—and when it was my time, they said, “Okay, are you ready?” And I was all harnessed up, so they lifted me up, and… I wasn’t just way up on the top part of the bridge and hanging lights in the scene, but also pushing myself, because the cable showed. It was meant to be that the character had put himself on a cable, so I would push myself away from the bridge and swing from one span to the next. And I don’t know that they would let an actor in a role do that today. [Laughs.] But there was a great, legendary stuntman called Dar Robinson who rigged the whole thing. So, yeah, that was very memorable!


AVC: Turk 182 wasn’t a “teen movie,” per se, but it certainly appealed to the teen market, particularly those who wanted to be a bit rebellious.

TH: Well, you know, around that time—’84, ’85—there were a lot of stories going on about graffiti artists, and a lot of young people were fascinated by graffiti artists and getting away with it and what the message was. I don’t know if that necessarily was the marketing angle for the movie. I think more they wanted to make it a movie about a younger brother really trying to help out his older brother, who he believed was wrongly discharged from being a fireman, and call attention to it. It was just a lot of fun to make, and I had a great time. It had a wonderful cast, a whole lot of actors that I got to work with on that. Robert Culp and Robert Urich, Darren McGavin, Peter Boyle, Paul Sorvino… There were some really great people in that.

The Dark Half (1993)—“Thad Beaumont / George Stark”

TH: That was quite an experience. I mean, working with George Romero was wonderful, and Amy Madigan was great. Playing those two roles was… something I hadn’t done before, and it was really a terrific script. Any actor, you get a script like that… You’re playing not just two roles in it, but you’re playing kind of the alter ego of one character, and it’s in a horror story context, or a suspense thriller, or a psychological thriller, whatever you want to call it, and it’s two dramatically, wildly different characters. Yeah, I had a good time working on that.


AVC: When you were playing the George Stark role, was there ever any point when Romero said, “Okay, take it up a notch”?

TH: No, I don’t think he ever said, “Take it up a notch.” [Laughs.] But I remember he said, “Take it down a notch!”

The Cars, “Drive” (1984)

AVC: How did you come to direct the video for The Cars’ “Drive”?

TH: Oh, directing “Drive” was a very unexpected situation, although I had a great time doing that. I happened to be living next door to the manager of The Cars, a guy named Elliot Roberts. He had some people over to listen to the new Cars album that hadn’t come out yet [Heartbeat City]. So I listened to it and thought it was great, and… the next day, he said, “What’d you really think of the album?” And I said, “Oh, I thought it was great! I especially liked that song ‘Drive.’”


And at that time, everybody was making videos. It was the height of MTV, and when you made a record, you were also thinking about the video. I talked to Elliott about how much I liked that song “Drive,” and I started describing all the different ways I thought they could go with it, as far as the video. And he said, “You know, everything you’re saying sounds really interesting. Do you mind if… Would you be up for me passing that concept along to Ric Ocasek?” I said, “Sure!” So he got back to me the next day and said, “Ric and I think you should direct the video. We love your idea, your take on it.” So that’s how that happened. And about a month later, I was in New York at the Astoria Studios over two days, filming the video.

Made In Heaven (1987)—“Mike Shea / Elmo Barnett”

AVC: So was it coincidence that Ric Ocasek ended up in Made In Heaven?

TH: No, we became friends from filming the video, and Alan Rudolph, who directed Made In Heaven, was talking to me one day, saying, “We have all these great little parts. Rather than getting just somebody that you’ve never seen before, since it’s such a heightened-reality kind of film, what do you think about… I mean, you know some people you’ve worked with, I’ve got a few ideas, why don’t we see if we can get people we know that might be really interesting to fill those roles?” So I brought Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Ric Ocasek into Made In Heaven, because I knew all of them.


Alan Rudolph is amazing. He just creates a really spirited atmosphere on the set, and there’s always music playing from some unknown source, there’s great food around, and, yeah, there happens to be a camera there and a script that needs to be shot, but it’s more of a gathering of people and costumes and story. It just puts everybody in a really interesting frame of mind.

A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-02)—“Archie Goodwin”

TH: Working on Nero Wolfe was one of the best times I ever had… I loved that I was able to work with Michael Jaffe in turning the Rex Stout books into these dramas for A&E. Michael asked me to direct some of them, and he invited me to be an executive producer with him and really be partners with him on it, and he asked me to place the music and to be involved in the editing. I directed quite a few of them, and playing that role and being able to bring those Nero Wolfe books to life, and being able to work with somebody like Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe, that was just one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.


AVC: It was really a great ensemble cast, and a unique one.

TH: Yeah, the really fun thing that happened when we started filming it… I had this idea that Michael liked of figuring out 10 or 15 actors that were Toronto-based and New York-based—because we were filming in Toronto, so New York was the closest other city to pull actors from—and creating a kind of rep company and have, say, Ron Rifkin play different roles in each book, because each book was self-contained. George Plimpton came and did a couple of roles, and so did Marian Seldes. Kari Matchett was a local Toronto actor, and she was in a bunch of them, usually playing the female lead. Kathryn Zenna was another one. My good friend that I’ve known forever, Jim Tolkan, who was in Back To The Future and Top Gun, he was in a bunch of them, playing different roles. One episode he was a bartender and had one scene, and then a couple of episodes later he looked different and was playing the villain. There were wonderful, just great actors out of Toronto, some of whom really moved on, like Kari Matchett, to really incredible work. I really enjoyed working with Kari, and I suggested her for Leverage. She’s just amazing to work with.

Leverage (2008-12)—“Nathan Ford”

TH: A really interesting character to play. I liked how the character began by having hit rock bottom as a starting point, with only one way to go: up. And having the character sort of evolve over time, from being consumed by his past to letting that go and being more embracing of what his future might be and more protective of the possibilities of his future, and sort of an interesting kind of challenge to play that. And fun. A very fun character to play.


AVC: It was nice to see a character who’s not afraid to embrace his imperfections.

TH: Oh, absolutely. That was the most fun of all, just being able to play a deeply flawed person, showing all the sides of the character.


AVC: When you first got the pilot for the series, how fleshed out was Nathan? Was it just a pencil sketch, or did they have him really plotted out as far as where they wanted him to go?

TH: In the pilot, you knew that this was a guy who lost his son, whose marriage kind of dissolved because of that, who didn’t have a job anymore and was drinking his life away. That was all very specific character stuff… It was a very well mapped-out character by John Rogers and Chris Downey and Dean Devlin. But the nice thing about it, too, is that they watched how the characters interacted, and a lot of character development and story came just by them being open to seeing the different dynamics on the set and seeing that all five of us really got along so well and had a kind of chemistry and really offset each other nicely. I think a lot of story ideas and character development came from just seeing what was happening on set.


I can’t remember what the episode was, but we were doing one where I remember I was in the middle of a scene in the bar, where a lot of scenes took place, and I looked at a chair. One of the other characters asked me about my father, and there was a stool, and for some reason in rehearsal I decided to tell a story about my father while staring at that particular barstool. And John Rogers said, “Wow, I don’t know what happened just there, but there’s something about the way you looked at that barstool. Were you thinking that that was where your father used to sit? That that was his spot in this bar?” And I said, “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. As I was telling the story, I was thinking, ‘That’s where I used to see him.’” And John Rogers said, “Wow, okay, then we’ve got to create Jimmy Ford. This is great!” So things developed just by the way people were playing scenes, and that’s just one example of that.

We had such a good time on Leverage, I think we all could’ve done many more seasons. But, you know, five seasons was a really great run, and I think we did… 76 episodes? Something like that. But those five years flew by. We had a great time, we filmed four out of the five years in Portland, Oregon, and for half the year during those five years, we all lived in Portland, had apartments there, and really became a kind of family together.

Friendly Fire (1979)—“John Mullen”
And Baby Makes Six (1979)—“Jason Kramer”

AVC: You mentioned Friendly Fire offhandedly earlier. You had some pretty impressive actors as your on-screen parents.


TH: Yeah, that’s very true. Ned Beatty and Carol Burnett! How about that?

AVC: The same year you did another TV movie, And Baby Makes Six, where your dad was Warren Oates…


TH: …and Colleen Dewhurst played my mother!

AVC: How did you fall into the TV movie realm instead of going theatrical first? Was it just a matter of what was available?


TH: Yeah, those were kind of the first parts that were available. It was pretty rare that you’d go in and audition for a film. I remember auditioning for Ordinary People, and… I remember auditioning for The Great Santini! But I… really don’t remember exactly how it happened, but it just seemed that at the time there were more good parts available for TV movies than there were for features. That was kind of the golden age of TV movies, you know?

Ordinary People (1980)—“Conrad Jarrett”

TH: It was a very surreal time. I wondered constantly if I was doing a good job, hoped that I wouldn’t be replaced, and… I’m sort of answering these questions in terms of what my memory is of my mindset, but that’s the only way I can approach it, I guess: my memory of my mindset. But that was a very intense time. From the moment I got the phone call that I got the part, all the way through every day of filming, I just had to keep it out of my head how excited I was and how big it was to me. You know, the script, the character, the book, the people I was working with… I just had to sort of keep myself very focused and have a level-headed appreciation of where I was. It was one of those most ideal set of circumstances I’ve ever experienced in my life.

AVC: Do you remember your mindset when Mary Tyler Moore called your name at the Oscars?


TH: Oh, yeah, I remember that very well. She opened the envelope, and then she looked at me, with a look that felt like it lasted an hour, and then she said the name. The cool thing I remember about it was that Jack Lemmon was presenting with her, and he was someone who I’d always liked very much, so I couldn’t believe that. And sitting right in front of me was Peter O’Toole, who was a very good friend of my father’s, so that was kind of great, having him there. And he was talking to me before we all took our seats and throughout the ceremony. Oh, and the other thing I remember about that night was that Diane Lane was my date! [Laughs.]

AVC: How surprised were you when you got nominated, let alone when you won?

TH: Well, it certainly took me by surprise, as did all the reaction to the movie, which was so positive, and the different things that the movie was recognized for and nominated for. It was a really amazing thing to go through that cycle of award season, and… it’s really quite something. What I remember mostly, though, was that I had started rehearsals on Taps in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and I flew back to Los Angeles to attend the ceremony… and the ceremony was postponed a couple of days because Reagan had been shot! I don’t know if it was 24 hours or two days, but I went to the show, and everything that happened, happened. And it was amazing. And then the next morning I flew back to Philadelphia to begin the first day of filming of Taps! So it was very surreal for me at the time, because I was already deep in the woods, so to speak, on a new project.

Taps (1981)—“Cadet Major Brian Moreland”

TH: That was very intense. Coming off of Ordinary People, the next film after that, and wanting to do good, wanting to be as present as I was on Ordinary People. I felt like I was working with a really interesting group of young actors, which obviously proved to be true. [Laughs.] It had a very strong, very smart producer in Stanley Jaffe, a great director named Harold Becker, and I loved the story and what it stood for. I felt very lucky to be doing that particular movie as a follow-up to Ordinary People.


AVC: You played a fair amount of chess with George C. Scott during the course of making that film.

TH: I did. I played a lot of chess with George, and I always lost. [Laughs.]

AVC: You’ve managed to reunite with a couple of people from the cast over the years, but the one you seem to have crossed paths with most often is Giancarlo Esposito. He was also on Nero Wolfe, Kidnapped, and Leverage. Did you guys stay in touch over the years?


TH: We absolutely did. I know his family, I know his kids, and to be able to work with him on those shows was great. We also worked together on 5ive Days to Midnight. He’s great. And he was amazing in Breaking Bad.

AVC: He has said that his appearance on Leverage was a case of him bailing you out of a jam.


TH: [Laughs.] Oh, well, yeah! He was great, too. It was a great role, really terrific, but we were having trouble finding somebody who was just right for it. So, you know, I suggested Giancarlo, and Dean Devlin and John Rogers, the executive producers, leapt at the idea. And I called Giancarlo up, and he’s always been such a great friend that he said, “Sure!”

The Temp (1993)—“Peter Derns”

TH: Made at Paramount around, what, ’91 or ’92? Lara Flynn Boyle, Oliver Platt, Steve Weber, and, of course, Faye Dunaway. What I remember from that is that there were a lot of differences of opinion. Not with the cast, but with everybody else, in terms of what kind of movie was being made. The script read like a kind of interesting sort of character study of what happens to a man’s life when his family falls apart and he’s not happy with his job, and then this temp ends up coming in and sort of grabbing this person at their most vulnerable moment and taking over their life.


But what happened as we were filming was that there was a lot of discussion, I think on the studio level, that a movie that had come out the year before, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle—you know, about the nanny?—it did very well, and the powers that be felt that The Temp should be more in tone with that movie. And it’s a funny movie, because it read really well on the page, but somehow the translation… I think it tried to be a movie that was different from what I think the writer intended. But I still had a good time on it, and it was great to work with Faye Dunaway. I’d always admired her so much.

Sunshine State (2002)—“Jack Meadows”

TH: That was a great one to be on. A really interesting cast… We filmed it almost all in one spot, except that there was one location that we had to be at across the state. We were on the eastern part of the state, and on the western part of the state, on the gulf, there was one location where we were going to be filming, and I thought it would be kind of great… Edie Falco had told me that she had never been in a helicopter, which isn’t that uncommon, but one of the people working locally had a really great rate for helicopter rides. So I arranged to make a sort of surprise for Edie and say, “Hey, I know that you were planning on driving however many hours it is to the next location and everything, and I was going to be doing the same, but… what if I told you we can get there in about 45 minutes instead of three hours?” Or whatever it was going to take. And she said, “Yeah! How?” I said, “Well, I rented a helicopter and a pilot, and that’s how we’re going to get to location.”


The next morning, we had to be there at, like, 11 o’clock or something, so I picked Edie up where she was staying, and we went over the airfield… and it was the worst possible storm you could imagine. Rain and wind, low cloud weather, just miserable. And we saw the helicopter, and the pilot was walking around the helicopter, making final checks, and he looked really concerned. He kept looking up at the sky and shaking his head. [Laughs.] His name was Otto. And I said to him, “Are we okay to fly?” He said, “Well, with this pilot you are.” And he was an amazing pilot. We went up in this helicopter, and it was both terrifying and exhilarating, all at the same time. I’m sure it’s something that Edie Falco has never forgotten!

The Falcon And The Snowman (1985)—“Christopher Boyce”

TH: Falcon And The Snowman came together in a really great way, with [John] Schlesinger as the director and a really strong studio at the time, Orion, that was putting out really great movies, and then Sean Penn being brought in… It was an amazing rehearsal period. We rehearsed at the V.A. hospital in L.A.—there was a space that they used to rent out—and we spent a couple of weeks rehearsing there, and then we all went down to Mexico City, where we filmed, and Cuernavaca, which is nearby, where we filmed as well. We were there for about four months, and then we came back up to L.A. and filmed in Venice Beach and Palos Verdes.


That whole experience was very intense because of the subject matter, but Sean and I already had a great comfort level, because we had done Taps together, and became great friends after that and saw each other all the time. That was great, to really know and be familiar with the person that you’re going to be doing that story with. I also remember how great it was, when the movie was being put together, to go into a recording studio and watch Pat Metheny and David Bowie record “This Is Not America.”

Betrayed (1988)—“Juggler At The Fair” (uncredited)

AVC: This is one of those roles that first needs confirmation and then demands an explanation, but are you actually a juggler in Betrayed?


TH: Yes. In fact, I’m a juggler on stilts dressed as Uncle Sam! And there’s a brief little flash of me. I don’t know if I’m actually juggling during that flash, but that’s one of the things I was doing. My wife at the time [Debra Winger] was acting in the movie, and I was up there spending time with her, and [director] Costa-Gavras wanted to kind of sneak me in there, so there’s this guy on stilts dressed as Uncle Sam! [Laughs.] I had a blast doing it. It was, like, a Fourth Of July picnic sequence, I think.

Q&A (1990)—“Asst. D.A. Al Reilly”

TH: That was great, and that was my second movie with Sidney Lumet, filmed in New York City. Working with Nick Nolte was amazing. Armand Assante and Sidney’s daughter, Jenny Lumet, were in it. So, yeah, that was just a great reunion with Sidney. It was the better part of 10 years since I’d first worked with him… As was usual with Sidney, the rehearsal process is three weeks, and you rehearse it like it’s a play. You rehearse the first week, every scene, you kind of break it down and talk about it. The second week, you start to rehearse with costumes and props, and the third week you start to do full run-throughs. You do the entire movie as if it’s a play. All the actors are there, and if you’re not on, you kind of sit off to the side, but everything’s taped out on the floor, and you do these full run-throughs… Yeah, that was one of my favorite experiences.

Daniel (1983)—“Daniel Isaacson”

AVC: Is there a favorite project that you’ve worked on over the years that didn’t get the love you thought it deserved?


TH: Where do I begin? [Laughs.]… Well, there’s a movie I did with Sidney Lumet called Daniel that I really felt was a powerful movie, and… it might’ve possibly come out at the wrong time. Or the subject matter was something that people weren’t drawn in by. I don’t know, but I think it’s a powerful movie with quite a cast. Made In Heaven, we talked about that before, but that’s one I thought was one of those things where you just think, “Boy, this was so much fun making, and it’s such a great love story… I can’t wait for people to see it, because I really think they’ll enjoy it!” I don’t know who ended up seeing it, but that’s one of those movies that, over the years, I’ve been surprised how many people have seen it, actually. Because I’ll have people come up to me sometimes and tell me that it’s their favorite movie.