Interview by Greg Carlson
Actor Rich Sommer is best known for playing Harry Crane on “Mad Men,” but his extensive performing credits include appearances on “The Office,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “CSI,” “Law & Order,” “Without a Trace,” “Ugly Betty,” “Nikita,” and “Burn Notice.” He made his feature film debut in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
This week Sommer returns to Fargo-Moorhead, where he graduated from Concordia College, as a special guest of the Fargo Film Festival. Along with Matt Walsh, Sommer will be headlining “Celebrity,” the closing night event of the film festival on Saturday, March 10.
GC: I read in another interview that you made haunted houses as a kid. What was your best ever Halloween costume?
Rich Sommer: My mom usually made our costumes. They were pretty great. I think the family favorite is when I was a magician, and my brother was a rabbit popping out of a hat. She also made a Kermit costume that was a hit. She is crafty. Now she makes costumes for our kids. It’s a nice nostalgia buzz.
GC: Did you perform as a kid?
RS: Kind of. I was Johnny Tremain in the Newberry Elementary School production of “Johnny Tremain” when I was six. Otherwise, just school and church plays. I didn’t take any of it too seriously.
GC: What movie do you know by heart?
RS: “Dumb & Dumber.”
GC: Your ardent followers know you love board games. Which is your favorite?
RS: Die Macher, which no one reading this has ever heard of.
GC: Did you read comic books growing up?
RS: A little bit, but not with any consistency. There was an issue of Batman where he runs into this vampire girl and her parents are dead and it was terrifying.
GC: Your Fargo-Moorhead fans would love to hear an interesting anecdote or memory from your time at Concordia.
RS: There are too many to mention. Walks to Mick’s Office from campus, performing in a tiny room at Noah’s Coffee with my improv group, that tiny Statue of Liberty across the bridge. It’s all rolling around in there.
GC: You met your wife in Cleveland in graduate school. How were you introduced to one another? Was it love at first sight?
RS: We were two of an eight-member class. I thought she was a knockout, but we didn’t hit it off right away. It wasn’t until about halfway through our time in Cleveland that we even acknowledged any interest in one another.
GC: The actor’s life means maintaining some wild hours. What are some of the things you do to balance career with being a father and husband?
RS: The nice thing is that mine is not a nine-to-five job. I usually work two or so days a week at “Mad Men,” and am around the rest of the time. When I’m traveling, it’s harder. Lots of FaceTime and phone calls. I miss them a lot.
GC: Can you tell us a little bit about Matt Walsh and Celebrity? What can we expect to see on stage Saturday night at the Fargo Film Festival?
RS: Matt Walsh is one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv group and school with theaters in New York and Los Angeles. He is one of my idols, basically. He asked me a while ago if I would host a new stage show he had come up with called “Celebrity.” It’s a stage version of a popular party game. What can you expect Saturday? We have no idea. We are doing an approximation of our show, which is already an approximation of a real show. So expect a couple guys grasping for straws. And it might even be funny.
GC: What will you be doing for the March 25 premiere of the fifth season of “Mad Men”?
RS: I’ll be with my wife’s family in Minnesota. I can’t wait.