I have known that I wanted to be a performer since I was the age of 5, when I fell in love with three classic entertainers that set me on my life’s journey: Flip Wilson, Tom Jones, and Get Smart’s Don Adams. I would spend hours imitating Flip’s “Geraldine,” singing Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” and mimicking Don Adams catchphrase, “Missed it by that much!” From such auspicious influences at an impressionable young age, one might have expected me to grow up to be a devil-made-me-do-it Casanova, equipped with only an impish grin and a shoe phone, but instead I’ve followed a much straighter path to some of my most notable characters: A megalomaniacal alien, an anthropomorphic red squirrel, an über-nerd, and an angry beaver. But keep reading, because it’s been a winding road to success…
It all started when I was cast in a TV commercial for Freshen Up Bubble Gum. The famous line, “There’s liquid inside this gum!” took a certain sense of self that not many 10 year olds could pull off… but miraculously, I did. From there I began to do commercials for many products including Chevrolet, Rustler Steak House, and Mattel Toys. I also began appearing on many TV sitcoms, from Different Strokes to You Can’t Take it With You, Head Of The Class, Rags To Riches and more. It was the era of the adorable wisecracking kid, and I fit the bill. Truth be told, I still do.
When I was 13 years old, I was cast in my first Equity job in the musical Oliver! at the Aquarius Theater in Los Angeles. Thus began my life long love of theater, and especially musical theater. The show was directed by Onna White, the Oscar winning choreographer of the 1968 movie version of Oliver!, and starred Dick Shawn, Stubby Kaye and, reprising her film role as Nancy, Shani Wallis. The time we spent on that show and in that theater are some of the happiest days of my life, despite the fact I played a street urchin and incorrigible pickpocket. Just another instance of art imitating life.
During my freshman year at UCLA, I was cast in the TBS sitcom Safe At Home. Cable was new at the time, and our show was one of the first sitcoms rocking the cable airwaves. We did 103 episodes, and I played the nerdy nephew of the station owner where the series was set. By that time, I’d elevated the art of wiseacre to new heights. The best part of working on Safe At Home was that I had the great opportunity to work with many actors I had grown up watching on TV, including several of the Brady Bunch, David Carradine, and Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family). The highlight, though, was when I got to play “Gilligan” to Alan Hale Jr.’s Skipper! I dare you to top that!
In 1987 while I was still working on Safe at Home, I was cast in my first feature film. Summer School was a Paramount Picture and directed by one of my all time idols, the legendary Carl Reiner. By now I’d graduated from wiseacre kid to super nerd –-“Eakian” in Summer School.
Given the trajectory I was on (careening toward the nosy neighbor or kicking and screaming little league dad), I changed the focus of my career in the early 1990s to voice over work. If you have been kind enough to peruse the rest of my website, you probably have a good idea of how I’ve taken to the animated world (and it’s taken to me). From Daggett (The Angry Beavers) to Zim (Invader Zim), Billy (The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), Rodney J. Squirrel, (Squirrel Boy), I love ’em all. Plus all the gamers out there may recognize my voice in many video games including Psychonauts, Destroy All Humans, Ratchet and Clank, and many more.
richard_nowIn addition to my voiceover work, in 2001 I began performing sketch comedy with the very talented and very funny Fred Willard and his sketch comedy group “The MOHOS.” I have had the good fortune to appear often with Fred in many sketch shows, as well as many television appearances including twice with him on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. I’ve also made several appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, including a memorable turn as a caroler along with ultimate merry gentleman, Jim Carrey. I also was featured on SNL in the digital shorts “Bear City,” and have appeared on TOSH.0. All in all, the giants of comedy know whom to call when they need someone who is equally engaging in fur or in bowties. My previous work experiences lend themselves perfectly to all such occasions.
My most recent film moments are probably some of my most memorable. I appeared as Matt Damon’s attorney, Bob Zaideman, in the feature film, The Informant! Later this year you will see me improvising along side Steve Carell in the film, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
In addition to voice acting, I teach voice over acting to aspiring talent as well as to already established performers. Teaching is one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Whenever I hear a rabid, screaming ferret or a butt-kicking five-year old ninja and recognize the voice as that of one of my students, I have to smile. And laugh. And fall on the ground, writhing in glee. I’m so grateful for it all, and in particular that it’s an actor’s life for me!
Want more? Listen to an interview I did on Blog Talk Radio.