This was a bit of dialog on a TV comedy a few years ago: "Who's that guy?" "What guy?" "The guy who's in every movie." "Oh, Jeff Daniels."
And now Matt Letscher, Daniels' former protégé, seems to be that guy. He's everywhere, from CW to HBO, from ABC to indie movies. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Maybe this should be a defining question for actors: How
many Kennedys have you played?
Matt Letscher has now done the ones on each end – Joseph
Kennedy Sr. and his youngest son Ted. At 44, he has plenty of time to do more,
in a busy career.
He was Ted in the 2001 mini-series “The Women of Camelot”;
he’s been Joe in three “Boardwalk Empire” episodes, one rerunning this week.
Alongside acting, he’s been a playwright, director and screenwriter. “I have a
mind that always wants to be busy,” he said.
The Kennedy roles could keep any mind busy. “Ted’s entire
life was a public one,” Letscher said. “Joe’s life was not so public, (but) he
definitely had his plan for world domination through his sons.”
Joe brought a mixture of charm, cunning and sheer
determination. “He was constantly the underdog,” Letscher said. “He was a first-generation
Irish-American; no favors were done for him.”
And that requires
acting; no one refers to Letscher as an underdog.
He grew up in Grosse Pointe, a high-end superb of Detroit.
His dad was a general contractor, his mom taught special education and his only
wayward moments came in his teens. “It’s not like I was cooking meth in Grosse
Pointe,” he said. “But I definitely was making poor choices.”
His parents insisted he find something new. “From the first
audition on stage, I knew I loved acting.”
He studied theater at U-M and landed a spot in a workshop
that Broadway great Uta Hagen held in Detroit. Next came his professional
debut, in a comedy Jeff Daniels wrote for the theater (Purple Rose) he started
in his home town of Chelsea, Mich. “It was one of the best summers of my life,”
And it led to more: Daniels was about to star in TNT’s
“Gettysburg.” When the director came to talk to him in Chelsea, Daniels asked
him to see Letscher. That led to a small role and the start of a big career.
Letscher has had recurring or regular roles in at least 13
series. Of late, he’s been Carrie Bradshaw’s widowed dad in “The Carrie
Diaries,” Eli’s brother in “Eli Stone,” the vice-president’s chief-of-staff and
campaign manager in “Scandal” … and now Joe Kennedy.
That – and playing sports with his two sons – should be
enough to keep him busy, but Letscher uses Daniels as an example: “Jeff is
always doing something else – writing plays and scripts.”
Letscher has returned to Purple Rose twice – once as actor,
once as playwright-director -- and expects to be back. He co-wrote, directed
and acted in the pilot for the Web comedy series “One & Done.”
And he’s done indie movies, including “Teacher of the Year,”
now heading to film festivals. (“It’s in the ‘mockumentary’ style, very funny .”)
He keeps trying new things; Joe Kennedy would understand.
“Boardwalk Empire.” Letscher’s third Joe Kennedy
episode reruns at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 1), 10 p.m. Thursday and 11 p.m. Saturday on
HBO. Also, 10 p.m. Wednesday and 1:15 p.m. Sunday on HBO2, 11 p.m. Friday and
5:45 p.m. Saturday on HBO Signature.
Also: Movies (most recently, “Her” and “Teacher
of the Year”) and TV guest roles. On Monday (Sept. 29), he was a witness/suspect on “Castle.”