Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor
Life’s full of surprises. Last May, I’m in the main conference room at CBS62/CW50 watching scenes from “The Carrie Diaries.” When Carrie’s dad appears on the screen, I whisper to a co-worker, “I went to college with that guy.” “That guy” playing Tom Bradshaw is Michigan native, Matt Letscher. Fast-forward to the premiere in January. I contact Matt on Facebook. Without hesitation, he agrees to a Q&A. Read on to learn more about this charming, gracious actor.
Vicki: The CW series “The Carrie Diaries” is the coming of age story of young Carrie Bradshaw, a character we’ve come to identify as Sarah Jessica Parker’s role from the HBO series “Sex and the City.” The prequel is set in 1984 when Carrie is a teenager. That must be a flashback for you. What are some of your fondest memories from the ‘80s?
MATT: ’84 World Series! “Bless You Boys!” For those who don’t know what that means, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1984. Being the only regular cast member on the show who actually lived through this time period, I do sometimes find myself in the position of having to explain world events and things like, oh, rotary telephones. I also enjoyed some of the music, like REM, Psychedelic Furs, and Violent Femmes. But maybe the greatest part of the ‘80s for a sci-fi lover was the Star Wars series. In our Halloween episode, my character dresses as a very realistic Chewbacca. Career highlight for me!
Vicki: It’s well established that Manhattan is one of Carrie’s greatest passions. In fact, your character arranges her internship in the city. Do you film scenes in Manhattan? Tell me about any personal connections you have to New York City.
MATT: We shoot in Manhattan all the time. It’s a big part of the show, Carrie’s discovery of the city. As an actor, I have many personal connections to NYC. I’ve performed on Broadway multiple times, made many friends through different projects who reside here, and love the vibe and cultural richness of the city. It can be a magical place.
Vicki: You live in Hollywood now, but our viewers might not realize you’re a Detroit native. You graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School and earned a BA in Theatre from the University of Michigan. What do you miss about living in Michigan?
MATT: I miss the beauty of Michigan. Yes, even in winter. I miss my family and what I remember as “the good life” there: Ann Arbor, the lakes in the summer, vacationing “up north.” California has a lot to offer and I love it, but there are some things that only Michigan can give you.
A Blast From Matt’s Past
Vicki: You started your career on the stage. I’m a little nerdy. I saved all the programs from the plays I saw in college. I remember watching you perform in “Greater Tuna” and “As You Like It.” In 2004, you played Guy Stone in “Straight-Jacket.” You’ve had movie roles; I saw you in “Towelhead” and “The Mask of Zorro.” As an artist, what are the challenges of acting for the stage versus acting for the camera?
MATT: The difference between stage and screen is mainly technical. The discovery process and emotional journey is the same in both, but theater requires much more of you physically. Acting for the camera can also be technically difficult, but the really good ones are able to let go of the camera and the lights and the dozens of people standing around watching you and still be honest and simple. The camera can tell when you’re lying.
Vicki: Speaking of the camera, the breadth of your TV roles and guest appearances is quite impressive. I saw you in “Almost Perfect,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Good Morning, Miami,” “Joey,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Entourage,” and “Scandal.” I know there are many more I haven’t mentioned. Which have been your favorite roles and why? Which actor(s) have you most enjoyed working with?
MATT: You mentioned some good ones. “Almost Perfect” was my first big break in television and it was like being asked by the big kids to their part of the playground. I absolutely loved working with Julia Louis-Dreyfus on “Christine.” She is flat out hysterical but generous enough to leave room in the scene for her fellow actors. She is one of the all-time great comediennes, in my opinion. “Scandal” was a blast to work on, not just because the writing and character were so juicy and fun, but because that whole cast, from Kerry Washington on down, was incredibly close and supportive and welcoming. As a guest player, you can often feel like the odd man out. At “Scandal,” I felt like part of the family.
Vicki: In the family dynamics of “The Carrie Diaries,” you just became a single dad. We find out your wife, Carrie’s mom, has died. It seems there’s potential for your character to start dating. What can viewers expect in upcoming episodes?
MATT: Tom Bradshaw will definitely return to the dating scene, but it will be far from a smooth transition!
Older And Wiser
Vicki: Your TV daughters and the majority of the characters in “The Carrie Diaries” are teenagers. AnnaSophia Robb (“Soul Surfer”) as Carrie; Austin Butler (“Life Unexpected”) as Sebastian; Stefania Owen (“The Lovely Bones”) as Carrie’s sister, Dorrit. As a seasoned actor on the set, tell me what the experience is like for you. Have you worked with anyone from the cast or crew before?
MATT: No, this was a new group for me. And being the “vet” on set, I was nervous going in. But I am learning new things every day from this very talented and kind group of young actors. Anna Sophia Robb is not only a real talent, but an incredibly professional and wise soul. I’m lucky to be able to work with her.
Vicki: Perhaps you have wisdom of your own to share. Many of our loyal CW viewers are young adults. As the TV father of two teenaged girls, what advice would you give teenagers today?
MATT: This will sound like the grumpy old man talking, but I would tell them to step out from behind the screens. I can be very guilty of electronic overload too, but I’m old and my body is near shot! So at the risk of sounding like every other adult: Get out in the world while you’re young! Use your body. Hike. Swim. Cavort. Dance. Whatever! Texting, tweeting, emailing, web surfing will always be there and are now a part of all our lives, but they are not the best connections to the world around you, so get out there and enjoy it. Enjoy your youth and what it gives you. As the ‘80’s icon Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
One thing viewers won’t want to miss is watching the talented Matt Letscher in the next episode of “The Carrie Diaries” Monday at 8:00pm on CW50.
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