Interview with Matt Rippy - Revisited
The Real Captain Jack Harkness
I’ve been following your ‘rants’ about theatres on your FB Page. I have to admit that I’ve not been to a theatre in a good few years. I was never any good throwing my voice on stage. Tried it in a field to practice and failed miserably! We don’t have any theatres in our town, their numbers are dwindling with only Lockerbie and Dumfries locally that I know of. How do you get more people enthused in theatres? What can they do to raise more interest?
Rippy: Yes, I tend to rant about the theatre and how vital it is for us to support the arts. In the modern world of virtual connectivity, TV screens and game consoles, it is crucial we not forget to actually get together in groups and have a shared experience. That is why we go to the theatre or see a band or a comic – to have a shared experience. TV & Film offer an amazing way to share something with countless millions, and that’s great – but a theatre full of people enjoying a journey together? Nothing compares! Our local theatres are a vital part of our community – undervalued and underfunded. If you wanna hear me rant from my soapbox, go to http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/2013/04/episode-332-my-theatre-matters/ and listen to my podcast with The Reduced Shakespeare Company about the My Theatre Matters campaign in the UK… but bring a ladder, cuz my theatre soapbox is BIG!
How did you get into acting and have you always had a passion for stage rather than screen?
Rippy: I went into drama at school mostly to get away from the football jocks who bullied me. I did a few shows at my local theatre, The Country Playhouse, in Houston, Tx. And someone there suggested I audition to attend the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and I said, sounds great, do they have a football team? No sports at all, they said! Perfect, said I! So I auditioned and made it in and now here I am still acting after all these years - thanks to the bullies. Yes, my passion is stage. Screen work is fun, but in a completely different way.
When you took the role of Captain Jack Harkness were you ever aware at that time just how popular that character would be?
Rippy: Hadn’t a clue! Sweet surprise!
You looked comfortable in that role of Jack Harkness would you ever consider taking another role like that in the future, or have you played a man in uniform before or since?
Rippy: I knew Torchwood was special from the very first moment I read Cath Tregenna’s script. I’ve been in (and out) of uniform since, but really all I care about is the story. Good scripts are hard to find… if I look comfortable in the role, it’s all down to the great writing.
How did the idea for the Reduced Shakespeare Company come about? And how many years have you been performing together?
Rippy: Ah, reductio ad absurdum! I’ve been sporting yellow tights for the Reduced Shakespeare Company for a good few years! I joined in the 90s (when I was 5) and can’t seem to stop. They’re just too much fun to hang with… come see us on tour and you’ll understand (reducedshakespeare.com ).
Who inspired you when you were growing up?
Rippy: I loved watchin Buster Keaton when I was a kid. Often watched him on TV Saturday mornings along with Laurel & Hardy and the Three Stooges - but it was Buster I admired. He was so full of surprises.
What vehicle do you drive?
Rippy: A Ducati, Maserati and a Tie-Fighter. Sorry, in reality? Left foot, right foot!
Jack Ryan – you’re in the new movie out at Christmas 2013, playing FBI Agent Simmons. Can you tell us anything about the role?
Rippy: I play a very small part. These days all actors on a film sign an agreement promising not to share any details of the film prior to release – so sadly I’m limited in what I can say. But it was a pleasure to work with Sir Kenneth. A true gentleman. And he still believes in rehearsal. We rehearsed 20 minutes for a 2 minute scene. Brilliant.
Since touring with the Reduced Shakespeare Company you’re back on the tv screens, can you tell us more about the projects you’re involved with at the moment, including the quick cameo in the George Clooney film you’re involved in?
Rippy: Yes, another short one-off scene, this time on Monuments Men. It was very surreal to dress in drag as Ophelia onstage one day and then play a soldier in a scene with Clooney and Hugh Bonneville the next… sometimes life is very weird and wonderful.
In your on screen appearances (going by your showreel) you don’t come out of any of the films alive, will your character Agent Simmons have a happy ending? Although this is a Jack Ryan story, so probably not!
Rippy: Top Secret! Couldn’t say, or I’d have to kill you and all your readers!
I never saw the Bogeyman film, but I’m assuming this wasn’t a zombie flick.
Rippy: No zombies here. All boogeymen! Shot hard and fast in Bulgaria – that was fun. And bloody. Bloody good fun!
For those just starting out in the acting profession, do you have any tips or advice?
Rippy: Yes, become a lawyer instead. Seriously, if there is anything else you can do that will make you happy – do it. The Biz is not for the faint of heart. A friend once said that this industry is not for anyone smart enough to have self doubt. So true.
In an onscreen movie, what would be your ultimate role you’d still like to play, or always wanted to appear in, or as?
Rippy: Always wanted to play a nice guy turned bad. Or a bad guy turned good. Or just a bad guy, Or good guy. Or hell, I’ll play anything.
Have there been any film scripts or scripts that you’ve looked at it and thought ‘no I’m not going to do that.’
Rippy: Yes, though nothing specific springs to mind. But it sure is fun when a script comes along that really works and I think – yes! Perfect for me! If you have one of those scripts please send asap.
Putting aside the usual question of kissing the other Jack Harkness, what was the high point of playing the Captain and can you recall any comical moments on set that you can share with us?
Rippy: High point? Walking into the dancehall for the first time and coming up the stairs and turning around and seeing the hall full of background artists in costume – I was instantly transported back in time. Truly amazing. Comical moments? EVERY moment with John is a comical riot. Almost none of it is fit to print!
Are you into gadgets and if so what was the last gadget you bought?
Rippy: Was given an iPad. Yum yum. My favorite app is Final Draft. I do a lot of writing on my iPad. Must have accessory – my Bluetooth keyboard.
You’re stranded on a desert island with shark infested waters, chance of escape is limited, but you have 3 items with you and one human. What are your items and which ‘human’ would you have with you?
Rippy: Depends. If I’m going to die quickly – give me a margarita on the rocks with salt, matches, a cigar and Lady Gaga. But if I’m gonna survive, then I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with salt, matches, cigar and Stephen King (I’m gonna need books to read and that dude is prolific!).
What was the last book you read?
Rippy: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Highly recommend it!
Questions from fans
Annika Gabriella Brink: Apart from general q's about his career and other future productions I recall something Jb said about his brother, I'd like to hear more about him, in his words.
Rippy: On the last day of shooting we were setting up my final shot and suddenly it occurred to me that my brother Steve would have loved to have seen this – he would have been so proud. Steve suffered from severe depression and committed suicide in 2003. Sitting there on set I had another realization – I would never know if my brother was gay or bi or neither. We all wondered at times, but never asked and that mystery would remain forever. This hit me quite hard and I had to leave set minutes before they were ready to turn over. My dear make-up artist came and found me and helped me get it together and got me back to set. I dedicate that scene to my make-up artist. I dedicate the episode to my brother, Stephen Whitney Rippy, 1962 – 2003.
Loony Smith: Would he do another Con in the Uk?
Rippy: You bet! Love Cons! Make it so!
Sarah Quinn: Does he know Captain Jack's real name?
Rippy: Crispin Thelonius Barbican. No, kidding, actually haven’t a clue, sorry!
Mickie: What was it about the character/script that made you say yes to the role?
Rippy: I’m a hopeless romantic so was immediately drawn to the love story. I admired the way Cath showed us these two lovers as real human beings first and foremost, real people with real emotions – the fact they are both male was only secondary. And all this played out against a backdrop of WW2 and the Hub – sexy sci-fi bliss!
Meggy: What's your most memorable moment with John Barrowman?
Rippy: Most memorable? I’d say the lip on lip action, baby!
Photo Source and research:
©BBC Torchwood 2007