Way before the Regal Beagle, legendary sitcom funnyman – Richard Kline – aka Larry from Three’s Company, began to build a regal career in the entertainment industry with an acting degree from Northwestern, major theatre credits and enough commercial work to keep him from waiting tables.
But here’s the part to really toast a beer over… Richard Kline continues to take a step that is new’ every year. Richard hasn’t stopped working, as an actor/director, since his 8 seasons on Three’s Company, for over 30 years!
Today, he plays the role of The Wizard’ on the First National Tour of Wicked.
No doubt, this funny ladies man also turned out to also be a seriously successful actor/businessman. So if you want to learn how to get Hollywood knocking at your door… join us for this Q & A with Richard Kline.
We’ve been waiting for you…
Q&A with Richard Kline:
Q: Since your opening credits in this business, what has changed the most?
The major change in the business is that there seems to be much more competition now. I was born in New York and started with theatre and commercials. Commercials are what sustained me so I didn’t have to wait tables. I would go in for a commercial at age twenty-five for a young husband and the call would be 80-100 people. Now they call in 300-500 and they are not all the same type. It’s as if they throw creative mud up on the wall and if it sticks that is what they take. So the casting, at least in commercials, is very different.
But there are more resources available to young actors today. There are more resources available now in terms of putting yourself out there. From podcasts to webcasts, there are many more vehicles.
Q: How can actors get Hollywood to come knocking on their door?
The #1 thing in Real Estate is location, location, location – well, in acting – it’s study, study, study. The more prepared you are with acting classes, and voice and dance, the more it makes you a triple threat and a commodity when it comes to going out looking for work.
#2… Get a day job and support yourself so you can take more classes.
Also, if you want to be in television and movies you have to move to LA. I am sorry to say that… but that has pretty much stayed the same over the years. If you look at the castings outside of Law & Order, there is little shooting in New York. And, the movies that do shoot in New York still often cast in LA.
Q: Do you have any secret way to keep Hollywood knocking, once you’ve gotten their attention?
Here are some magic words… passion and focus. I think they go hand in hand. You have to be desperately passionate about wanting to be an artist and very focused on the business side.
You need a three prong attack:
1 – is the studying.
2 – is the business itself, with photos and resumes and writing. Get into a group with other actors who want to start improv or something.
3 – is attitude and the power of positive thinking. You have to have a positive outlook on yourself and maintain yourself health wise. If you are really pretty lady and you let yourself go, then you aren’t going to get those pretty lady roles. The same thing goes for men. Your body is your instrument, so you have to maintain it.
I went to college and studied acting, took classes in LA and now I’ve taught for about 12 years, which keeps me sharp as an actor because I do research for every class. I’ve never abandoned prong #1, which is studying. For me, personally (regarding prong #2), I have an agent but I am always looking out for work. And I know it sounds Pollyanna, but (regarding prong #3) I have a very positive attitude.
Q: You were the only cast member, besides for John Ritter and Joyce Dewitt, to remain on all 8 seasons of Three’s Company. What is your secret to keeping a gig?
Besides my contract? (Richard laughs)
I think… because John and I got along. And, plot wise they needed me just as they needed a landlord to move various plots along.
(FYI – I think Richard sounds modest here! Perhaps that also has something to do with his longevity… having an unassuming, appreciative energy?!)
Q: In Three’s Company, there is always a misunderstanding. What is a big misunderstanding in this industry?
If you have an agent, don’t sit back and think the agent is going to do everything for you. I strongly recommend that if you have a shred of writing talent – write a script. Write a one person show and get your tukas out there, even if it’s in a church basement.
Q: Did the role of a used car salesman give you any ideas on how to sell yourself to the industry?
No. it’s just a part, like any part.
When you do a role, people say, ‘Are you like your character?’
And I say… for every part you play you have to find some part of yourself that is a little like that character. Or, you have to use your imagination. If you are playing a killer, and you are not a killer, you have to imagine what you would do if you had the opportunity to be in a room with Hitler just as he is about to exterminate one more person. Would you shoot him?
Q: Why should actors enjoy being the neighbor, just as much as main/Jack character?
If you focus on the money and fame, you are a dead person. It’s not about money or fame. That is ancillary. The most important thing is to focus on the work and become the best you can be. If you are prepared, have studied, have been in plays and continue to do a lot of work… then fame or fortune may or may not follow. But if you just look for it, then I think you are doomed. I really do.
Q: Do you have any neighborly advice to pass along?
Never leave your wallet in the dressing room.
“It is concentrated on comedy, learning how to deliver comic material – which requires a certain technique. It is not that different than being believable on stage, or on camera. But with comedy, you have to have a certain added technique to deliver the material. There isn’t a trick, but there is a way and you can learn it.”
In his class, Richard uses sitcoms, comedies, and plays. He starts out with a series of exercises, one liners and then does short scenes in which he directs you and then helps you analyze it.
Richard’s teaching style is tough but fair.
“I direct students and tell them what to expect if they get an audition. I am not a guru and I am not a dictator, but I don’t let stuff slide by that doesn’t score.”
Thank you Richard for sharing over 30 years of expertise with NYCastings. We look forward to many more years – where laughter is calling for you…