Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Victor Garber on his love for Judy Collins and his bar mitzvah encore

Illustration for article titled Victor Garber on his love for Judy Collins and his bar mitzvah encore

In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.


A veteran actor who has worked in film, TV, and on the stage, Victor Garber is currently playing the vice president in Big Game, a Finnish action movie also starring Samuel L. Jackson as the president. Though he’s Canadian, it’s a natural role for Garber, who has brought a certain level of decorum to most of his roles, from Titanic’s Thomas Andrews to Alias’ Jack Bristow. This fall, he’ll star on The CW’s Legends Of Tomorrow.

1. What’s the worst job you ever had?

Victor Garber: I’ll tell you right now: Questions about the best and the worst, I’m not really good at. But I would say probably when I was very young I worked at a transport company and it was a night job and people typed invoices. There were many people with typewriters—they were perforated invoices. I had to rip them out and take out the carbons and separate them and put them in piles.

The A.V. Club: That’s pretty tedious.

VG: And I was half-asleep.

2. When did you first feel successful?

VG: When I was 13, I was bar mitzvahed in London, Ontario, and I had to sing the prayer that was designated on the day of my bar mitzvah, and it went so well that I went back and repeated the last four lines. And it was to the shock of a lot of the elders in the synagogue. But I felt incredibly successful. Basically, I did an encore at my bar mitzvah.

AVC: Had you been entertaining before that?

VG: Growing up I was involved in children’s theater, so I was definitely on the path to be an actor and a singer.


3. If you were a supervillain, what would your master plan be?

VG: Oh, golly, this is where I crumble.

AVC: You can pass.

VG: Okay, pass.

4. What were you like as a kid?

VG: I have an older brother, a younger sister—I was the middle child. It was a very— although one would call it dysfunctional, I suppose—a very loving home, even though my parents separated when I was 16. But I had already left home. By the time I was 15, I was pretty much out of the house, so I didn’t finish high school. But it was a very musical family; we all sang, so the joy in the household was music.


AVC: What kind of stuff?

VG: We were folk singers. Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger and all those folkies. And musical theater—my mom always brought home-show tune albums.


AVC: Was it for children’s theater, or just for your family?

VG: I got involved in theater and I played Tom Sawyer when I was 9 or 10 or something. I was bit by the theater bug.


5. Who was your celebrity crush when you were younger?

VG: Oh, golly, I was enthralled by Judy Collins.

AVC: She’s beautiful.

VG: I met her once and I was star-struck.

AVC: She has very striking eyes.

VG: Yes. She has a beautiful voice, too. She’s now elderly, but she’s still singing.

6. If you had entrance music, what would it be?

VG: I’ve never thought of it. And I don’t have any idea. I don’t know what it would be.


7. What have you done so far today?

VG: I went to the Whole Foods store and bought some very expensive groceries. And I’m packing boxes because I’m renovating the apartment and have to move out.


AVC: And you’ve done other interviews, I assume.

VG: Yes. You’re my second of the day.

8. Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity? If so, who?

VG: Gordon Lightfoot, when I was very young, was in a restaurant in the Holiday Inn in New York. I was twentysomething, 21 maybe, possibly younger. I walked up to him to introduce myself because he was Canadian and I was so excited to be there. And he looked at me and he thought I was Art Garfunkel.


AVC: Really?

VG: Yeah, because I had hair like Art Garfunkel. It was big. Those were the Godspell days, so….


AVC: Did you have to let him down? Did you break it to him?

VG: I said, “I think you’re confusing me with someone else.” That was about it, though.

9. If you had to find another line of work, what skills would you put on your resume?

VG: I have no skills. The only thing I could possibly do is teach.

AVC: Teach what?

VG: Teach acting. I have no education.

AVC: Are you good at cooking, or gardening, or anything?

VG: No.

AVC: Just acting?

VG: I mean, I learned how to roast a chicken from Ina Garten’s cookbook. She’s sort of my go-to for when I have to make something—when I have to cook.


10. Do you collect anything? If so, what and why?

VG: I don’t, actually. I don’t collect anything. I collect people, I think. I’m very social and I like seeing a lot of people.


AVC: I’ve done a few of these with people who live in New York, including you, and I’ve found that those people generally don’t collect anything. They have to keep their spaces streamlined.

VG: Yeah, I mean, also, there’s so much stimulation here. But when I was a kid, I didn’t collect stamps, or weird toys, or anything. I don’t even have music—I don’t even have a CD collection. So that’s not really my thing.

11. What would your last meal be?

VG: Well, I guess, Italian food is my go-to as my favorite. That, and then chocolate mousse for dessert. Just dark chocolate mousse; I’m always on the search for the perfect one.


AVC: In Paris, there’s a restaurant that had bottomless chocolate mousse. You could just keep having as much as you wanted. It’s amazing.

VG: Was it?

AVC: It was.

VG: See, that’s interesting to me. That’s the most exciting thing we’ve talked about so far.


AVC: What Italian food would you want?

VG: I like chicken Parmesan. There’s a restaurant that opened near me that has the best short-rib penne. It’s so good, and it’s right around the corner. I might go there tonight, just talking about it.


Bonus 12th question from Godfrey: Do you think racism will ever go away?

VG: I wish, but no. Racism, that’s just one of the hideous things. No.

AVC: What would you like to ask the next person?

VG: Oh, dear. Just use the last question.