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July 22, 2014

Creed Bratton of 'The Office' on Best Creed Lines, Music and Sleeping Under a Tarp

by Ryan McKee, posted Dec 10th 2009 3:42PM
It's annoying when burnt-out hippies on the street say, "Life's been a long strange ride, man" -- but it's all too appropriate when Creed Bratton of 'The Office' says it.

Bratton went to college on a swimming scholarship, then chased his rock star dreams around Europe, hooking up with the folk group The Grass Roots in 1965. Wanting to act, he won small TV roles before a friend gave him stand-in work on 'The Bernie Mac Show,' where he met Ken Kwapis -- "a huge Grass Roots fan," according to Bratton -- who got him background work on 'The Office.' There, he convinced showrunner Greg Daniels to let him create "this character that was sort of addled and weird, who'd done a lot of drugs and stuff." And "Creed" was born.

Creed (the actor) gave us the lowdown on what makes Creed (the character) tick and what his most memorable lines are, as well as the closest he ever got to homelessness and where the name Creed actually came from.It's annoying when burnt-out hippies on the street say, "Life's been a long strange ride, man" -- but it's all too appropriate when Creed Bratton of 'The Office' says it.

Bratton went to college on a swimming scholarship, then chased his rock star dreams around Europe, hooking up with the folk group The Grass Roots in 1965. Wanting to act, he won small TV roles before a friend gave him stand-in work on 'The Bernie Mac Show,' where he met Ken Kwapis -- "a huge Grass Roots fan," according to Bratton -- who got him background work on 'The Office.' There, he convinced showrunner Greg Daniels to let him create "this character that was sort of addled and weird, who'd done a lot of drugs and stuff." And "Creed" was born.

Creed (the actor) gave us the lowdown on what makes Creed (the character) tick and what his most memorable lines are, as well as the closest he ever got to homelessness and where the name Creed actually came from.

You just finished a film up in San Francisco called 'Melvin Smarty'?
Yep, did it with a really cool group of young kids: Rusty Schwimmer, Ken Devitian from 'Borat,' and George Hamilton, the icon. When he walked on the set everyone went, "Wow, that's George Hamilton, now it's for real."

And you've been performing live music lately?
I have! Yeah, I rehearse all the time doing Appalachian stuff with Ed Helms. When we're not shooting on set, we stay in our trailer and he plays banjo and I play guitar. On our last hiatus from the show, I brought him into the studio to record a couple tracks on my upcoming album 'Bounce Back.'



You've also been performing live with cast-mate Kate Flannery, right?
I've done several shows with Kate and her group The Lampshades. I did 'David Watts' by The Kinks at one of her shows. Then Ed had Kate and I and Demetri Martin at his Café Largo show. He brought me out at the end and we played the two songs we do together on my album. We also did it at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in L.A. You can see that on YouTube.



Did you think of yourself as a funny person before 'The Office'?
Oh, gosh yeah. I was voted "Funniest Guy" in my high school. I was always able to make people laugh.

How close is your sense of humor to Creed's on the show?
Well, I don't think Creed the character has a sense of humor. He's never tried to make a joke.

What's your favorite Creed quote from the show?
I think the one that put me on the map was, "Which one's Pam?" Oh, and the other one was, "Is someone making soup?" That got a lot of feedback. And then the infamous "In the '60s, I made love to many many women. Often outdoors in the rain and the mud. And it's possible a man slipped in, there would be no way of knowing." I just did that one up at in San Francisco at the Woodstock reunion. I went up onstage with P.F. Sloan and did that joke. It got a huge laugh.

Do people walk up to you and repeat quotes?
Oh gosh yes, all the time. Especially college guys, they'll run up to me in the airport or at a restaurant and start yelling, "Cool beans," "Which one's Pam," "Soup." They'll just yell out this stuff at me. Oh and, "Animals can't feel pain." I get that one a lot.

How did you pick the name Creed?
I was born William Charles Schneider. My father died in the War when I was two. My mom then remarried a guy named Sam Ertmoed, so I became Chuck Ertmoed. Which is a horrible name! That's probably why I developed a sense of humor, to deal with that sh*t. Anyway, I was in Europe after college with a folk tour called The Young Californians. I was in Athens and I met this couple from Oregon who were on their way to Crete. This is no joke, they were going to teach English to the Cretans. They asked me what I wanted to do and I said, "I want to act and I want to be a rocker." And they said, so what's your name? When I told them, they said, "That's horrible. You need a new name." The next morning I woke up in a small room and my head is throbbing with an Ouzo hangover. I look on the floor next to my knapsack and I see a tablecloth completely covered with all these names written on it. Everyone one was crossed out except one on the side that's circled, "Creed Bratton. " I said, "Oh yeah, that's right, that's my new name."



How angry were you when the band Creed got popular?
[Laughs] At the time, I wasn't very happy about it. But now it's all good.

Your first credit on IMDB is an episode of 'Eight is Enough' in 1977. What was your role?
Ahhhh, I think I was singing one of my songs in a bar sequence, I believe, but that's so long ago. Actually, I have to talk to my people about that. I have people now. You need them. Before that, I was on an episode of 'Quincy, M.E.' playing a coke dealer suspected of killing someone with an overdose. I nailed that one.

Through those lean years, how close were you to homelessness like Creed?
I was. I mean, I always had a place up in the mountains I could have gone to, where I grew up. But you don't want to go home, to give up. So I slept on girlfriends' couches. That's what musicians have, girlfriends who keep them alive.

Was there a particular point you almost gave up?
One time I was staying this girlfriend on her couch. She had a friend coming into town and she said, "Creed, I'm sorry, but I have to kick you out. My friend gets the couch. But you can sleep outside under a tarp." That night it rained. There I was on her outside couch, under a tarp, with rain coming down on my head. That's a time I felt the most miserable, the most maudlin.

To download Creed's new single, 'The Rubber Tree,' go to CreedBratton.com. Bratton says, "I'm giving it away for free as a thank you for how lucky I am."

Watch 'The Office' full episodes and clips on SlashControl.

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