BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Tom Hollander may have spent a lifetime as an actor, but he thinks it’s a profession that’s harmful to your health.
The British actor has co-starred in productions like “Pride & Prejudice," “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," and “Dead Man’s Chest," “Absolutely Fabulous," ‘In the Loop," “Cambridge Spies," and now “Rev.," which is streaming on Hulu.
Ever since he was 11 and held out his chipped crockery begging for more in his school production of “Oliver," Hollander has been unable to resist.
“It’s just ‘let’s pretend,’" he said. “I think everyone likes that. Everyone as a child likes ‘let’s pretend’ and I suppose I haven’t grown out of it."
He says his parents were “cautiously supportive" of his mission, but they were always worried.
It’s been a colorful life for Hollander, 45, a life of touring companies, Shakespearean plays, TV series and voice-overs.
But there are wonderful, wonderful moments and I tried to describe it the other day, what actors get from people: They get love from strangers.
The man who traveled the world with the Cheek by Jowl Theater Company figures he’s been living in an alternate universe.
“You also get to live extraordinary moments, you get to travel and have adventures and there’s the running-away-with-the-circus thing that’s wonderful. And you get to do and say extraordinary things because you’re always playing exaggerated and extraordinary situations which have been constructed and written so that you’re always playing stronger, wiser, bigger, smarter, richer more extreme versions of humanity than most of us live.
“You’re more handsome, more daring, richer, poorer — whatever it is. That’s not healthy for people in a way. But that IS the joy of it. You have to remember you are just playing ‘let’s pretend.’ Then you have to go into your own house where you’re a normal person going, ‘Where is the buzz coming from?’"
Of course, it hasn’t all been scepters and sabers. Hollander remembers his struggling days. “I had a couple of years in the beginning where I worked as a toy demonstrator in shops. I was young and it was all right. In Britain you don’t make huge amounts of money as an actor, the way you do in the States. In the States, the stakes are much higher. You’re more likely to be living the ‘peanut butter’ life statistically, but then if you make it, you make real money," he said.
“In England, you’re more likely to be working because there’s so much theater and also because we’re English speaking (and) we get to work in the American industry, which is very fortunate. British actors have a lucky time because they get to work in both countries and there are so many theater jobs. So you can have a working life as an actor without becoming a superstar, which is perfectly fine in England. Here you get a TV show and when that show is canceled, maybe you get another one maybe you don’t. There’s not a whole lot else to do."
He says making “Rev." changed him because he not only stars as the comic vicar, he co-created the show with James Woods.
“It’s giving me a feeling of weight because it was having an action that has real consequences. If you’re an actor, none of what you’re doing is real. If you’re collaborating with a writer it turns into a real show, and you make real decisions about casting and story lines. You write bits of it. That’s changed the way I feel about myself."