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.
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.
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.
VG: Oh, golly, this is where I crumble.
AVC: You can pass.
VG: Okay, pass.
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.
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.
VG: I’ve never thought of it. And I don’t have any idea. I don’t know what it would be.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.