The eleventh profile in the Cleveland Performing Arts Examiner ACTOR PROFILE series features actor, RICK MONTGOMERY JR. This series (in interview form) is in process to “get to know” some of our own northeastern Ohio talent. Profiles will feature equity and non-equity actors, stage and screen actors, as well as young, old and in-between actors. These are your peers and your neighbors – please enjoy!
Full Name: Rick Montgomery Jr.
Years acting: 10
Day Job: Full time actor/ Stay-home Dad
Resident city: North Canton, OH
Kate Miller: Let’s start with your acting training.
Rick Montgomery Jr.: Some seminars, but learned the most from Victor D’Altorio (whom I miss ) and Brian Zoldessy (who I need to call one of these days). They may not want to admit they had me in their classes, but I have the canceled checks to prove it.
KM: I noticed that you have a wide variety of accents listed on your resume! What’s the most difficult accent for you to speak in?
RMJ: The one I can’t do. Usually if I can listen to one long enough, I can fall into it. What’s difficult is just to do it ‘off-the-cuff’, which is one reason when I have to do an accent, I start when I wake up and go through the day with it. It drives people nuts and makes me sound psychotic.
KM: What’s your favorite role ever played?
RMJ: I like all of them. I always find something to love or loathe in them which always make them fun. Best time was doing The Fully Monty at Beck Center… very liberating… HA!
KM: What is your dream role?
RMJ: My dream role is a supporting role I wrote for a project called Rebellion. It’s a character that goes through a remarkable transformation, but the transformation is not by choice – it’s dictated by the nature of the world around him. It’s complex, funny, sad, evil and forgiving. But if it ever gets made is another story.
KM: Do you sing?
RMJ: Depends on who you talk to. I’ve been in numerous musicals, but I don’t know if that qualifies me as a singer… maybe. My sons say I can’t!
KM: Do you dance? What’s your training?
RMJ: I’m like a ‘dog’… I can be trained to dance or fetch a Frisbee. no training as a dancer, but lots of repetition.
KM: Have you done TV or movies? If so, how does acting for the screen differ from the stage?
RMJ: All of the above… the acting doesn’t change… just the ‘scale’ of it. If you’re playing to people 20 rows back you have to play it differently in ‘scale’ to a camera’s ‘close-up.’ The stage audience can barely see your face, and the latter – they can see every pore. So you just have to know how big or small to make each action. The ‘acting’ (the reactions) are still based in the same emotion/moment.
KM: You’re an Equity Member. How long have you been a member?
RMJ: Since 2005.
KM: And you’re SAG and AFTRA eligible (film/TV). For those who are unfamiliar with the term, explain what “eligible” means.
RMJ: It means that I have done enough work in each union that I can join. How that happened… I’ll never know.
KM: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
RMJ: An architect… I actually went to Kent State for it, then ‘life’ got involved.
KM: Why did you start acting?
RMJ: One play in high school. Then after I retired 10 years ago- it’s my wife’s fault.
KM: Any other actors in your family?
RMJ: My wife, and she’s a helluva lot better at it than me, but she wanted a family. Although now my sons (ages 10 and 13) are getting older and don’t need Mom AS much. My youngest is a natural but doesn’t want anything to do with it at this moment… but I think it will happen someday and then I can live off him. It’s in him… he can’t escape it.
KM: You’re a stay-home Dad. Tell me about the kids in the family.
RMJ: Way too many…nah… their ages are from 10 to 34 and two Grandsons which are older than my two sons. I love them all even thought I don’t see the older ones enough. They’re outta house. One daughter was a dancer for 14 years, then she got her degree in Archeology… go figure. The youngest boy, 10, is the actor. He just doesn’t know it yet or won’t admit it, and he fights it every day. He’d rather play football or baseball, but it’s there- everyone sees it. One day, a girl will come along and say, “Will you do this play with me?”, bat her eyelashes and he’ll melt and be off to the races. He will be ‘the actor’ AND play in the NFL and MLB. The 10–year-old got his mom’s genes. Piano? Acting? Sports? All work right? My wife was / is an actress and she’s amazing.
KM: Why do YOU love acting?
RMJ: The WORK… the preparation, the discovery of a character, the process of bring it to life… again… all the people involved… what’s not to love?!
KM: Any hobbies?
RMJ: Not really. When I’m not working, I’m home with my family. I don’t socialize with cast and crew that much outside a project because when I can I want to see my family. They grow up to quickly… I made that mistake before. I have daughters that are 27 and 33, and I wasn’t there enough for them. So I help with baseball and football, homework, cleaning house… I’m the House Dad.
KM: Who are your favorite actors and actresses?
RMJ: Anyone who can disappear into a role, change with each call. Gary Oldman is a favorite. Alan Rickman, lots of actors and actresses.
KM: How do you prep for an audition?
RMJ: Study the script for insight into the character; memorize all I can because I don’t like to audition with my glasses on or looking at the script / sides; do the best I can.
KM: Do you reward yourself for getting a role you wanted?
RMJ: Nope. I reward myself if I think I did a good audition. A friend of mine (whom I don’t speak with enough) told me to do that because after the audition, it’s not in your hands and it could be so many reasons why you do or don’t get a role.
KM: What do you do to get through a rough tech week?
RMJ: I don’t mind them. It was kind of interesting that when doing The Full Monty. We would stand on stage when the lights were being set for the final “blind-out” and the rest of the cast was in the house looking to see if they could… “see anything!”
KM: What’s the hardest part about acting?
RMJ: In film it’s being able to recreate each moment again, as many times as it is needed without getting tired of it, especially out in the 90+ degree sun.
KM: Your resume lists Music Composition as a talent, and that you won the Akron Composer’s Contest. Tell me a little about your musical background: what you play, what kinds of pieces you write, what inspires you. Also, tell me more about the Contest?
RMJ: I was 16 at the time and the Akron Public Schools had a Composers Contest because at that time composition was offered as a class. I won with a piece called “Bittersweet”. I wrote it for my girlfriend at the time. I got to play it for the school in an assembly. Nothing big, but she loved it. I had about two years of piano and then quit – who wants to ‘practice’ when you can ‘date’? But I wrote my own pieces and the girls liked them (I think this is a running theme in my life). It was simpler than taking the time to read music and play – it was mine, let other people read the sheet music. Most of my work is ‘classical-sounding’ in nature – light but detailed.
KM: Random – Do you have any pets?
RMJ: A cat, and maybe a dog by tonight. One of our neighbors is looking for a home for their 7-month old ‘mutt’. It’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and we’ve been looking all summer. Tonight might be the night!
KM: What / when’s your next acting gig?
RMJ: Actually leaving for a job in Kentucky for a few days. I’m doing a film called Last Kind Words and I’ll be working with Brad Dourif, an Oscar nominee. It will be fun. I like watching people work. I love being on set. I like the people and the work that goes into a production. The past ten years have been the best. Better than wearing a shirt, tie, and jacket and sitting at a desk like the first twenty-five.
KM: Lastly – Why do YOU think Cleveland rocks?
RMJ: The potential for Cleveland has been buried for so long underneath the political fighting, jealousies, lack of direction, lack of a winning spirit. Of all the places I’ve been, Cleveland has the potential to be the Crown Jewel on the Great Lakes, but it’s up to the people to seize that Spirit and act on it even when the chips are down. Whether it’s a city or a person, it comes down to “how BAD do you want IT! “ Are you willing to do what it takes to make your goal, your dream a reality? So Cleveland: how bad do you really want it?! I need to hear it here in North Canton, then I know you’ll succeed!
If you have Cleveland area performing arts related story or even that would be of interest to our readers, please contact KATE MILLER at [email protected] with your pitch!