Richard Riehle [Interview]

Richard Riehle

Richard Riehle is one of those actors that you just know.  He is instantly recognizable with a frame and mustache that makes him an obvious choice for a Santa Claus character (which he has done, most recently in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) or a cop (The Odd Couple II).  But even with this sort of typecasting in mind, it is the versatility of this fine actor that is so impressive.  Most people are going to remember Richard for his hilarious supporting role in the film that epitomized the hilarity of slackerdom, Office Space, in which almost stole the show with his “Jump to Conclusions” mat, that I wish actually existed.  But on a personal level, Richard Riehle will always be Principal Beasley from one of my favorite films as a kid, Jury Duty with Pauly Shore (don’t judge me hipsters, I was 10 years old!).  This is an actor who is always recognizable in my book, and a great talent with almost 300 television film credits to his name.  His work ethic is amazing, and his talent is the same.  And we were fortunate to steal some time with Mr. Riehle, and grill him about the world of acting, Office Space, and much more.  Enjoy!

You are one of the busiests character players in Hollywood right now.  What motivates you to work just so damn hard?

It doesn’t seem to me that I’m working hard at all. I really enjoy what I’m doing and hardly think of it as work. Every project is a new adventure that I eagerly look forward to.I love working with new people; experiencing new processes and ideas; and exploring new characters stories and situations; and if I’m lucky doing this in new places around the world.”Work” is a blast, and usually more interesting and fun than day to day existence.

We’ve watched your stellar performances in comedy, action, horror, and so on.  What is your favorite genre to work in? 

My favorite genre is the one I’m working in at the moment. And I love shifting from one to another. You learn more about each genre by experiencing it from the prospect of the genre you’ve just been working in, or the one you are preparing to work in.It makes for a more interesting character or project if you can find some comedy while doing horror, some serious underpinning for knockabout farce, or some thoughtful character work in an action/adventure piece.

You are a man of the theatre as will as the screen.  Tell us, have you ever had a truly embarassing moment on stage, or witnessed something extremely embarassing?

How much space do you have for embarrassing theatre moments. I’ve gone up in the middle of a 2 page Shakespearean monologue, when all I could think to do was beat on the only other actor on stage until I remembered the next line. That was in front of 1200 people. Or falling asleep on stage and snoring.

I understand you are fluent in German.  You have been in more films than I could possibly remember, so tell us, has your German fluency help you in the acting world? 

I shot a film this week about the childhood of Charles Bukowski, playing Bukowski’s grandfather, who was meant to be a German emigre, so my background in German allowed me to use a German accent,and throw in a German word or two at the audition and in the filming. The 2nd film I got cast in was as a German speaking Gold Rush bar owner, and we shot a scene in Growth in which I had a phone conversation in German. Neither made the final cut.Richard Riehle3

What was the dynamic like shooting the now cult favorite Office Space Did you get to keep the Jump To Conclusions mat?

Office Space was a great experience from beginning through its still continuing life. Mike Judge took his time casting the film then told us we’d be going to Austin for 25 shooting days, his hometown, where no suits would be looking over our shoulders. We’d have to work hard to get everything, but at the end of the day he’d introduce us to some of his favorite restaurants and music spots. Mike did his role the first day, giving us all a clear sense of what he was going for.

Mike wrote a great screenplay, and was a wonderful director, making the set a fun place to be.

He put together a terrific group of people who enjoyed spending time together both on and off the set. He knew exactly what he wanted, and was clear in describing it. I couldn’t have had a better time working on it, and to this day people still stop me and tell me it’s their favorite movie. And I have no idea what happened to the jump to conclusions mat, I swear.

I’ve noticed that you already have quite a few projects coming out this year?  Can you tell us a bit about what we will be seeing you in this year?  Especially the mysterious modern day thriller Friend Request?

It’s always hard to tell when a film will be released, whether it will be in theaters or on cable or DVD or streaming, or even what it will be called. Friend Request was fun to shoot around Salt Lake City, and evidently went well enough that they’re already in preproduction for Friend Request 2. And one of the producers is putting together a terrific Western that I hope he’ll use me in. I did a Western last year called Dead Man’s Burden starring Clare Bowen who’s now one of he leads in Nashville. It turned out great and was screened at the LA Film Festival. And I did another social network film, Death By Facebook, a dark comedy(aren’t they all?). Did a double/triple cross film with Ray Liotta; Scribbler, based on a graphic novel in which I have a scene with Gena Gershon and a boa constrictor; Obsession with James Duvall about a hedonistic reporter; and Lovesick with Matt LaBlanc about a relationphobe. Any of them could appear in the near or distant future.

Richard Riehle2If you could portray any famous Revolutionary War era figure, who would it be?

Benjamin Franklin would probably be the Revolutionary War figure I would have liked to have been. He got to participate in most of the important events of the day, but never had to be responsible giving him time and opportunity to tinker with things that interested him, inventing, writing newspapers and almanacs, creating the postal service and libraries, even flying a kite. Meanwhile, enjoying all the good things in life, wine, women, and song throughout the new country and Europe.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was waking up this morning, having made it through the night, with all the possibilities of a new day.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

2 Responses to Richard Riehle [Interview]

  1. Pingback: Two Years of Trainwreck’d [Exclusive!] | Train Wreck'd Society

  2. Gonzalo says:

    He’s so great! I will always remember you as Walt on Grounded For Life. Such a great actor. Love you Richard

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