Currie Graham needs no introduction. The Canadian actor has worked on countless shows and even had his own for a while. A true veteran, Graham’s talent has brought him to work side by side with Emmy winners like Mary Louise Parker (Weeds) and Hugh Laurie (House). He’s also had recurring roles on popular drama’s like NYPD Blue, Boston Legal, 24, and the classic sitcom Suddenly Susan. The king of crime-solving procedurals CBS’s CSI even had Graham guest star twice for different characters. Writers and producers just can’t seem to get enough of him. Neither can audiences.
In 2009, The Mentalist fans were overjoyed when their beloved Senior Agent Lisbon (Robin Tunney) garnered the interest of attractive billionaire Walter Mashburn, Currie’s character in Season two’s episode “The Red Line”. Despite the fact that most viewers are avid shippers of a Jane/Lisbon romance, the charisma, elegance, and playfulness Graham brought to his role made Walter Mashburn irresistible to even the most die-hard fans. I shall forever be grateful to Mentalist writer Jordan Harper for creating this fun character.
And when Currie reprised the role in 2010, the fanfare was undeniable. Twitter virtually exploded with the news and I was prompted into writing my first ever episode preview (at a time when I wasn’t even able to write regular reviews). One has only to search #Mashburn on twitter to read all the love viewers have for the character, and for Currie.
This love is more than justified. When Graham was tweeted on whether he would be interested in doing an interview, the married father graciously agreed.
Q1. Thank you for your time. Regarding your background, you’re Canadian, but sources state that you graduated from the American Academy of Creative Arts in New York. Can you tell us a bit about the decision to move to the States? Was there a lack of film schools in Canada, or was it a strategic career decision?
I went to The American Academy in NY because my mother had been accepted there when she was a kid. I didn’t have a lot of information about acting schools, coming from a very small town in Canada, so I just went with what information I had. I knew it was a full time school, and I thought that structure would be beneficial. I was also very interested in living in NY and knew it would be a great place to educate myself. Museums, theatre, opera, film, art, it was all there and I was very excited about learning and being a part of it. I do think there are good schools in Canada but I just felt so connected to NY when I visited that I just knew I had to be there.
Q2. Your portrayals always seem so confident and effortless, even playing off icons such as Hugh Laurie and Keifer Sutherland. Any tips for young actors?
I think the most important thing for actors, young or at any age for that matter, is preparation. Being completely prepared is what gives actors the ability to feel free with the material. Working with Dennis Franz or James Spader I saw first-hand the amount of control they had over the material and their work certainly reflects that. I also never want to walk away from shooting a scene feeling that I wasn’t able to do my best work because I wasn’t fully prepared. Also, I find it very disrespectful when actors show up not knowing what they’re doing.
Q3. I know that different actors have different ways of preparing for their roles. Can you elaborate on yours? Does it differ from role to role?
I think my preparation is usually the same. Being familiar with the material and making choices about how my character feels about people, places and things. Most of the time it’s really just knowing and understanding the script. Really understanding what the characters are saying and what it all means on a personal level. How the person feels in his or her own body.
Q4. Crina @ducrichy wants to know what was the most challenging role you’ve played so far, and why?
I did a small movie called “Angels Crest”. It was just myself and another actor (Chris Bauer) for 90 minutes. We shot it in three weeks in the mountains of California. It kicked my ass, both physically and mentally. I’m very proud of the film and I learned a lot shooting it. Very tough conditions, very low budget.
Q5. 17thSlam @AgentChy wonders, in your opinion, which role you are most recognized for and which would you choose to be most recognized for?
I think that depends on who you ask. Men usually recognize me from NYPD Blue or Boston Legal. Women on the other hand, usually recognize me from Desperate Housewives or The Mentalist.” Raising the Bar” had a very loyal audience, who always seem to find me in the airport.
Q6. Connor Davey @CJDavey wants to know, when you’re not working, what shows do you like to watch in your spare time?
Downtown Abby, Game of Thrones, New Girl, Smash (guilty pleasure), Walking Dead, The Killing… That’s kinda it. I write a lot and I have a three year old so….time is an issue.
Q7. Can you share what it is you write?
I’ve written a feature about things that I got involved with when I was living in Brooklyn NY. I did some really stupid shit that makes for a really fun movie. It’s about a kid who tries to find himself and in the process gets lost. I’ve also written some TV pilots that are in various stages of development.
Q8. Looks like we can expect to see writing credits added to your IMDB page. Speaking of movies, what’s your favorite film?
Citizen Kane, Godfather2, Apocalypse Now, Trainspotting, I could go on and on. So many great film makers.
Q9. What roles are you interested in and which do you turn down? Also, Valeria Moi @SiquelsA is curious on whether you’d play the pope :)
I pick roles for many different reason. It could be the role, the director, could be the chance to work with a great actor. Honestly, sometimes it’s a chance to make money! For instance I got offered a part in Total Recall. It was a small role but I really wanted to work with Colin Farrell and the director Len Wiseman. Sometimes it’s a scheduling problem where we can’t work out the dates. But most of the time if someone offers me a role it means that they know my work well enough to give me a part that I can do something with.
Q10. Would you be interested in acting in a foreign film?
Without question. I did a film in Sweden called “Rancid”. Loved my time there and the people were amazing.
Q11. How about an action film?
I would love to do an action movie. I was in Assault on Precinct 13 which was directed by a great French director Jean-François Richet. I would love to do more of them, they’re really fun.
Q12. I read somewhere that you are married and have daughter. Has parenthood affected your work or your approach to acting in any way?
I am married. Having a child has brought a sensitivity to my work that I maybe didn’t bring to my work before. I think I truly understand what it means to love. I guess I see life and death differently. There is a sense of mortality that come with being a parent, the thought that anything could happen to your child, well it just makes me see things differently. Selflessness. Living life knowing that someone counts on you. And never withholding love. Give it freely cause it’s all that really matter in this world.
Q13. Which of the many characters you’ve played, if any, do you feel you have most in common with?
I think maybe Walter Mashburn, aside from being a billionaire. Perhaps the character I played on “Raising the Bar”. The role was written for me, by people who knew me, so it was tailored to fit my personality. He was a sensitive guy with a great sense of humor and could be a really tough bastard. I guess that’s kind of who I am.
Q14. Your chemistry with Simon Baker and Robin Tunney on The Mentalist was fantastic. Connor Davey @CJDavey wants to know, what was the best part of working with them?
Thanks. I loved working with them both and I think that shows on screen. Simon is one of those actors that comes to work fully prepared with tons of ideas. He is fantastic in the role and never misses a beat. Much respect. He is also one of the most charming people I have ever met and that charm really puts people at ease. I always felt so comfortable doing scenes with him. Robin Tunney also has that same kind of charm. I loved working with her. Very easy going and personable. She’s the kind of women you just love hanging out with. She made my stay at the Mentalist a real joy.
Q15. In your two Mentalist episodes, were you given any particular instructions on how to play the character or was the script enough?
No notes or instructions. It was one of those jobs that was an offer and I think the producers knew what they were going to get. The first episode was directed by my friend Bill D’elia. We’d worked together before so we already had a nice short hand which made the show very easy to do.
Q16. A little bird called Ashley Gable tells us you two met recently. Can we dare hope to see our favorite Mentalist guest star in Season five?
First of all Ashley is a terrific writer whom I have so much respect for. We’ve stayed in touch and will continue to do so. I would work on anything she wrote. As for future episodes, I’ll let you know something when I know something.
Q17. Speaking of Walter Mashburn, if he had a theme song, what do you think it would be?
First thing that comes to mind is “Money” by Pink Floyd, Dark side of the Moon. But I would love to hear what the twitter folks think. Might be fun to get other people’s thoughts.
Q18. What would be your theme song ?
Again the first thing that comes to mind is “Creep” by Radiohead. But I’d be open to suggestions.
Q19. Last question: I have to ask, you have a very interesting and unique name. Can you share who chose it?
It’s my mother’s maiden name. My mom was an only child and Scottish tradition says that the first born son should carry the mother’s family name. So I’m Currie.
Personally, I can’t wait to see him again on my favorite show. Oh the possibilities…
Perhaps, based on the spoilers being shared on Mentalist Finale Hysteria post, it may not be unreasonable to hope that we will…