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TV Stars We Know: Remy Auberjonois

by Van Sias, posted Dec 5th 2010 11:00AM
Remy AuberjonoisTV Squad writers interview celebrities they personally know

As you were watching the latest episode of 'Boardwalk Empire' and finally saw Harry Houdini's brother, Theodore Hardeen, you might've thought, "Wait a minute. Wasn't that campaign manager Martin Parillo from 'The Good Wife'? " Or, "Isn't that Joan's gynecologist, Dr. Emerson, on 'Mad Men'?"

You could have even caught yourself saying, "That's Olympic tetherball medalist Tyler Brody from the Oprah episode of '30 Rock'!"

Turns out you would have been correct on all counts. He's actually veteran actor Remy Auberjonois, a friend and neighbor of mine in Brooklyn, N.Y. we recently chatted about his roles, how he got into "the business" and if he's picked up any tips from the various trades he's performed in his roles.

So how did it feel to be part of a major conspiracy during the Olympics?
I felt a little bit like a stuffed sausage in that outfit I had to wear during the tetherball sequence, and I got a terrible sunburn shooting on Randall's Island. A two-second flash of me playing tetherball and I looked like a lobster afterward!

That was actually a pretty good gig for me to get; it was the first episode of the season, Oprah was in it. I was there right when Tina Fey was considering doing (her impersonation of Sarah) Palin for 'Saturday Night Live.' I was in the makeup room and she was talking to her hair guy on whether or not she should.

What inspired you to become an actor?
I'd be lying if it was anything other than my family, my father (actor René Auberjonois). The inspiration certainly came almost consciously; it was what I wanted to do since I was little, perhaps because it was "the family business" and also because I have my own call to it.

How important is it to have a wife (actress Kate Nowlin) going through the same thing career-wise?
There are pros and cons because we understand what the other one is going through. We are able to help each other prepare for roles and the demand of the career. But there's also an instability to it.

What's been the most challenging part of it?
Lately, getting the job.

And the most rewarding?
I would say, getting the job!

You've had roles on stage and in the movies. How do you compare that to playing a part on TV?
I've never been a regular on TV. I've done roles where I've maybe been back once or twice, but most of my work has been one-off guest stars, for a day or a few days. In TV, it's a very different experience to come into an ongoing scenario and be the person that's there for that day or a couple of days. That's the largest difference.

In TV, you are a "guest." The dynamics are different, and the experience and the pacing are different. Everybody there is just in their rhythm and you have to sort of pick it right up and hit it.

I saw your part on 'The Good Wife,' and it seemed you definitely did that, as it was one scene, but an intense one. Where did the emotional level come from?
There was a piece by Stephen Tobolowsky in the New York Times about being a character actor. It was a bit of a memorial to a number of his fellow character actors who have passed away recently. The character actor is not somebody who generally has an arc, but you still have to be a full person. You have to bring the whole thing to it and you have to invest in it.

Based on three of your most recent roles, if I was a woman looking for a doctor who could manage a political campaign and escape out of handcuffs, you'd be the guy to turn to, right?
No, but I'd play one on TV! If you need that for a day on a set ...

OK, how about if our kids were on the playground and got tangled up in the swings. Could you channel your "inner Hardeen" and break them out?
I'd call 311.

Should we be looking out for you on any other TV shows coming up?
You might catch a "Where's Waldo" moment of me in 'Mildred Pierce' on HBO.

A lot of 'Boardwalk Empire' was shot in our neighborhood. Was your part filmed around here?
I did shoot the interiors at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and I walked to work, which was nice. It was a very long day and the guy that was driving Steve Buscemi gave me a ride home.

I guess being hung upside down and chained kind of took it out of you?
It did, and it was about 3 in the morning and I didn't want to walk home. I was getting on a plane at five that morning to go do 'Mad Men.'

So with your feats of tetherball dominance and chain-snapping on-screen, do you do your own stunts?
I did my own escape on 'Boardwalk,' but I also had a stunt double, which I highly recommend whenever one is available to you. If you're ever in a situation where a stunt double is available, I'd say go for it. It's a stronger, more able version of yourself!

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Thanks for the fun article! I really liked hearing the little anecdotes related to his work!

December 05 2010 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John F.C. Taylor

I've seen the father in lots of things. I haven't watched anything the son has been in.

December 05 2010 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remy Auberjonois is Rene Auberjonois's son. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0041280/bio

December 05 2010 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh my goodness, René's son all grown up. Why should I be surprised since my kids are grown up too? I went to school with Rene at Clarkstown in New City, NY. He wasn't there all that long, but I mostly knew him from junior high and part of high school. We had a few classes together in the seventh and eight grade and took French class together as freshmen. This little country girl was always impressed that he had been to see Marcel Marceau and wanted to fashion his life after that great mime. René disappeared from our lives and the next time I saw him (onTV) was in the mid-sixties when I lived in NYC and he played a troll. Was an avid fan when he was on Star Trek. Good luck to Remy and all the family.

December 05 2010 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not to be confused with Deep Space 9's Rene Auberjonois (after seeing the credits in Boardwalk Empire the other day, I thought "Odo was in this episode? I didn't even recognize him!").

December 05 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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