NOTE: This is a work in progress.
Link to first resume + photo
variety of photos from shows.
Begining My Film Acting Career
I began acting in films sometime in 1990, although I acted in several student films after I graducated from Yale in 1983. My serious work as a film actor began when took a summer film class from the American Film Institute taught by the late Adam Rourke.
Adam was a no nonsense teacher and I quickly realized that despite my MFA in Acting, I had a lot to learn about not only the art of film acting, but the business as well.
After finishing the AFI course, I was fortunate to get a recommendation to a decent agent (he eventually screwed me over, but that's another story). This agent liked actors with theatre experience, so after looking over my resume, he said he'd like to work with me. I signed a one-year contract with him and he started sending me out to casting directors.
I quickly realized that I needed a lot of help with auditioning. In school, I didn't have to audition much,so I didn't quite know how to do "office acting", as I call it.
I was lucky enough to get a good recommendation to Brian Reise's Cold Reading class. This class was tough, but really helped me get my audition chops down. I highly recommend Brian's class. He's smart and knows the business backwards and forwards. I owe a lot of my success as a film actor to Brian and his teaching.
My first acting job was as a police officer (Officer Pratt) on L.A. Law. I had about 6 or 7 lines and was hired for the week at around $750. LA Law productions also gave me an opportunity to join the Screen Actors Guild through the Taft-Hartley act. So most of my weeks salary went to paying dues to join the union.
I chose the name Richard Grove to use as my professional name in film. The reason for this is that I've always been somewhat embarrased by me birth name of Ricky Grove. Richard had a nice ring to it and made me sound more serious. Of course, this was all crap and I regret the change. But I'm stuck with it.
My Career Takes Off
One truism about Hollywood is that success usually brings you more success. You get on peoples radar and if you deliver, then you get more work. I got good at "office acting" and the "schmooze", although there were times when I was sarcastic and rude. Needless to say I didn't get those jobs.
You see the big truth I learned as I kept doing more auditions and getting more work was that talent had little to do with getting cast. I know this may be hard to believe, but the real reasons are how you look, your personality and a little bit of luck.
There were auditions I did so well you could have filmed them - and I didn't get the job. There were auditions that we so bad, I wouldn't have cast myself - and I got the job. I quickly learned that the audtion starts the moment you walk in the door. I know for a fact that I was seriously considered (if not cast) the moment I came through the door, walked over to the chair and sat down.
In Hollywood your type is everything. My type(s) were bad guys, nice dads and crazies. I also had good luck playing latex monsters.
From LA Law I went on to work on Jake and the Fatman, Matlock, Hunter (one of my best roles as a serial killer behind bars), Quantum Leap, Knots Landing and many other TV series.
I generally liked the work in television as it was quick, most crews were friendly and I got paid a lot of money. In television, my theatre acting chops came in handy plus the tips I got from Adam Rourke's AFI class. Usually, you got maybe one reheasal on a scene and maybe two takes on your close-up. I worked hard to get my lines down and to pay attention.
I quickly learned to always be early for everything on set. I reveled in being professional more than the acting at times. Most of the roles I played were slight and more functional that anyting else. There wasn't a lot of room to create a real character, so I just made sure I did everything right. This got me in good with various directors and casting agents which, in turn, brought me more work.
The Downside of Hollywood Acting
How about getting your 12 page contract on the first day of work? And they want it signed in 10 minutes. No, when you are a nobody actor like I was you don't get the contract sent to you before you start work. Good luck trying to actually read the fact that there's a morals clause in your contract that allows them to essentially fire you if they don't like how you behave not only at work but in public. My agent told me this was standard and that I shouldn't worry about it. So, I didn't. But it always galled me that I couldn't read my own fucking contracts before I signed them.
Another crappy aspect of Hollywood acting is that the stars don't have to stay to do the off camera lines while they film your close up. Happened to me on a show with a pretty big name actress. We came back from a short break to do my close up and when I asked where this actress was, they said, "Well, she had to go. Just do the scene with the script girl". Needless to say I was somewhat piqued. And this happened all the time.
12-hour turnaround. SAG rules require an interval of 12 hours from when you sign off from an acting job to when you sign back on in the morning. Violation of this rule involves kicking your overtime salary into "Golden Time" where you get, if I remember correctly, 3x your regurlar hourly rate (something like $300 an hour). So, producers like to glad hand and promise you all kinds of nice things ('well cast you in our next show") to get you to waive the additional fees.
Guess what? They are lying. They just want to save money and they will never follow through on their promises. I waived fees 2x and got squat. But you are in a double-bind because if you don't waive the fee, they get mad at you and will definitely not cast you again. Catch 22.
Last bit of Hollwyood sleaze and I'll stop; many times in my career I was called on to do stunts like being shot, being punched, falling over a table, etc. Directors LOVE to get you to do these stunts because they don't want to pay a stunt person to do it AND it looks better when they cut to a close up in the scene. All kinds of back patting, ego stroking and generaly nauseos bullshit comes out of directors mouths to get you to do the stunt. And I did the stunts even if I didn't know how to do it.
Of course, this made me look good to the crew if I did the stunt well. Little did I know that there is a pay upgrade due an actor when he does certain kinds of stunts. I never asked about it, so they never offered. My back hurt like hell at times and I smacked my head and arms and elbows. I have arthritis in my left him which is mostly likely due from falling on that side a jillion times while doing some kind of stunt.
The Movies Come Calling
It was harder to get cast in Film that it was TV. Auditions were longer and more involved. I frequently had to come to multiple call-backs and was often video-taped in my Film auditions. Eventually, I booked a Film job in Sam Raimi's film, Army of Darkness. Never met Sam during the audition which was taped in the casting agents Hollywood Blvd. office.
AOD is probably the work that most people will know me for and thank god I did a good job in spite of the difficult working conditions. Sam was a great director and Bruce Campbell was wonderful to work with (as was Marcus Gilbert who played Arthur). But the killer heat and big your butt cold coupled with long, long days really made it tough. I spent a month on the show, went away to film an episode of the TV show "In the Heat of the Night" in Atlanta, then came back for the last week or two of the shoot.
Film work is much more interesting to an actor as there is generally more time taken to get shots right. I liked the slower pace and the attention to detail. I immediately understood why so many actors preferred film work to TV. You just have more opportunities to do good work in Film.
AOD led to another interesting film, Extreme Justice, which was shot primarily in downtown LA often at night. Hair-raising and fraught with stress is all I can say about this job. I was thrilled to meet an actor I admired, Yaphet Kotto, but so many things happened on that set, not to mention all kinds of behind the scenes politics, that it was not much fun.
1997 was my last year working as a film actor. I had over a dozen TV series to my credit and half as many film jobs. But my agent had some problems. He ended up getting sued for not paying all of the fees due another agent in office for booking an actor into a big series job. He lost the suit and lost in agents license. So what do you do when you lose your agents license? You become a personal manager, which isn't regulated by any agency so you can be as dishonest as you like.
I got dumped after 7 years of successful work. No response to phone calls, no response to door knocking, no response to emails. "Hey, I dont' really need you any more, so good bye".
Why not find another agent? Well, I was just fed up with Hollywood and simply didn't want to work there anymore. Too many times I was screwed over and treated poorly. Too many times I worked with people who didn't really care about the work they were doing. And the material I worked on was mostly full of cliches and stereotypes. I'd had it.
So I went back to the Theatre. I got in shape, started attending all kinds of plays and eventually found a home at an avant-garde theatre called City Garage.
But that's another story.....