August 17, 2007

Aug. 17, 2007

Note: Excerpts of this interview appear as the "Lifestyles" feature in the September issue of Lacrosse magazine. Look for it and subsequent features in the "Scoop" section of LM, a member benefit of US Lacrosse. Join today for your complimentary subscription.

by Clare Lochary, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Usually there's little overlap between the drama kids and the star athletes, but actor Terry Riordan was the 1995 NCAA Division I Player of the Year for Johns Hopkins. After years of working in soap operas and regional theater, the L.A. Riptide attacker has landed a role in the Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's "The Ritz," running from September 14 to December 2 at the Studio 54 Theater in New York City.

Before rehearsals began, Riordan took some time to run lines with LM.

Did you always want to be an actor?
No. As an athlete you get a lot of opportunities to be on TV, in front of people being interviewed. People told me "You're so natural on camera. You should be an actor." I thought, "Yeah right." I'm a kid from Long Island. That's not me. I'm this brutish attackman. You know what art in my family was? It was stuff we bought at the boutique for Mother's Day with macaroni on it. I didn't have an artistic bone in my body. I thought acting was just being hammish. I didn't know it was pretending, and really doing things under imaginary circumstances.

When did you decide it was what you wanted to do?
I remember being in the elevator in New York with my brother-in-law John the summer after junior year. I had an internship with Bloomberg. I guess we were going to get some pasta or something, and I just turned to him and said, "Man, I can't do this. I don't think I want to do this stuff." He's this English guy, dry sense of humor, and I think he was a little fed up with corporate life at the time, too. He said, "Well, what are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to come back here and I'm going be a movie star." He said, "You know what Terry? You can do that." And that was the way I decided. I didn't even give it another thought. I think that's a rare occasion that you know what you want to do when you're 22 years old. If you're lucky, you guess right.

Did you consciously choose theater over film?
I thought I would do a soap opera, a series, and then the movies. But I fell in love with what theater acting was. Also, I'm 6'6", 230, so I'm obviously a particular type. I'm not 5'10", looking like Tom Cruise, where all the film parts are written. My first big theater job, when I did that, I realized, "OK, I'm a big strong guy. I can hit the back of the house with my voice. I've found this funny niche."

Won't [MLL] playoffs overlap with the final days of rehearsal for "The Ritz?"
I'm gonna either miss the semifinals, or I would be excused from rehearsals for that weekend. I've always discussed this with our GM [G.W. Mix] and he's supportive. Obviously it's a tough situation. It's like not being able to go onstage on Opening Night, and leaving all my fellow actors high and dry with an understudy.

Tell me about your role in the play.
Michael Brick - he's an interesting fellow. He's a detective, a private investigator. His voice never dropped, so he has the same exact voice as he did when he was 10. So to hear that voice with a guy standing 6'6", 230 pounds, you'll see a certain sight gag.

How did you get the part?
[Tony-winning director] Joe Mantello and I worked on the touring production of "Take Me Out." It's about a star baseball player who comes out of the closet. I got a call from my New York agent saying "You're on the short list." You don't fly 3,000 miles to suck. I wasn't going to go there and have a bad audition. I prepared my butt off and rose to the occasion like good athletes do.

Do you see any parallels between being an athlete and being an actor?
It seemed like the natural progression, perfectly organic. Being an athlete is being able to be competent and react as things develop and change. Acting is reacting. You have a month of rehearsals, and the idea is that you get it into your bones. It's trusting the people you're on stage with, and getting out of their way when it's their moment.
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