TM: Troy, where did your last name come from?
GARITY: It's my father's mother's maiden name. Actually, my father just found in Wisconsin the gravestone of his great-grandfather, Owen Garity, who came to America from Ireland. That's my next destination, to pay respects to the man who brought us here.
TM: You've done several films, but I guess they've all been fairly low budget?
GARITY: Well, yes, compared to Armageddon. I haven't blown up any planes! I'm still paying my dues: I've got, like, a few minutes in a film that's coming out this August called Steal This Movie, in which I'm fortunate enough to play my father.
TM: How was that experience?
GARITY: Therapeutic! It was very touching; I found myself reenacting some things I'd heard about all my life, moments that were pivotal in my creation. It was kind of surreal, too, because fact and fiction always have to be interbred when you're doing a biographical piece--especially when you try to encompass the life of someone as dynamic as Abbie Hoffman in two hours. There's a lot of dramatic license involved. In fact, my father was on the set for the riot scene, and he pulled me aside afterwards and said, "You know, son, we couldn't talk or even see in the tear gas. I don't know why all these extras are standing around and looking into the camera, when they should be crying and vomiting." I said, "Father, it's Hollywood. Remember?"
TM: You said that your role is a small one?
GARITY: Yes. It started out as a silent cameo. But I talked the writers into giving me a line, and they enjoyed me, so I incorporated myself a little further into the film. It's really about Abbie Hoffman, who's played brilliantly by Vincent D'Onofrio; my father had more or less the same goals as Abbie Hoffman in the '60s, but his modus operandi was different. Janeane Garofalo and Jeanne Tripplehorn are also in the movie, and a great actor named Kevin Corrigan plays Jerry Rubin.
TM: What's your next film project?
GARITY: Actually, I'm going into rehearsal to play my mother.
TM: Oh. Who'll be playing Ted Turner?
GARITY: I'll get back to you on that one. We'll have to find the correct animated character for him.
TM: Your mom looked great on the Oscars, by the way.
GARITY: Didn't she? She was gorgeous. I was so nervous for her; my palms were sweating, because it's been a long time since she was in such a public situation. But she was so elegant and graceful.
TM: Has she encouraged you in your acting career>
GARITY: I guess I would say that she's encouraged my growth, my education, the betterment of my skills. As an actor, you can't ask for a better support mechanism than having a mother who's a master actress. She can pull me aside and give me the most valuable notes about things--very specific details. She's inspirational.
TM: How did The Messenger come about for you?
GARITY: An old friend of mine is the general manager at the theater. She called me up and said, "Troy, are you sick of L.A. yet?" I said, "Yeah." So, at the height of pilot season, I packed by bags and went to do an Off-Broadway play. That made my agents very happy with me!
TM: How much stage experience do you have?
GARITY: I did some theater in college. My parents had a performing arts camp that they started in 1974, and I kind of grew up there. That was my principal training.
TM: Is The Messenger your professional stage debut?
GARITY: (Pauses) I guess it is. It's the first time I'm getting paid to be a stage actor.
TM: But you haven't attached a tremendous amount of significance to it for that reason?
GARITY: Why would I sabotage myself like that? This experience has confirmed every dream and every naked paranoia nightmare I've ever had about theater; it's been a wonderful example of the chaos backstage and the brilliance onstage. I learned a beautiful phrase from our stage manager: "In bocca al lupo." It means "in the mouth of the wolf," and it's the Italian version of "break a leg"--but much more romantic. I think that's a proper definition of what happens when you go on stage; I'm never going to let the wolf chew me up and digest me.
TM: Do you have a preference for stage or film acting?
GARITY: They're so different; it's an apple and an orange. It all depends on the script, really. If the words are there, I want to be there, in whatever medium. If you're involved with a play and you realize the writing is garbage, you have to stay and struggle for months. On the other hand, if a movie is garbage, you can get it over with quickly--but then it's there permanently!