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INTERVIEW: Political Animals' Roger Bart Returns to The Producers

The Tony Award winner discusses his new USA series with Sigourney Weaver and the upcoming Hollywood Bowl production of the award-winning musical.

Roger Bart
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Roger Bart's career is full of memorable characters, from his Tony-Award winning performance as Snoopy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown to the title role in the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein to the creepy pharmacist George Williams on ABC's Desperate Housewives.

Right now, Bart is currently playing Barry Harris, the cutthroat chief of staff, on USA's mini-series Political Animals, and he will be recreating his Tony-nominated turn as the outrageously campy Carmen Ghia in The Producers at The Hollywood Bowl, July 27-29. TheaterMania talked to Bart about his new series, sparring with co-star Sigourney Weaver, and reuniting with some of his former Producers co-stars on stage.

THEATERMANIA: What drew you to a political drama?
ROGER BART: The series' creator, Greg Berlanti, has managed to instill a huge heart in the show. There are so many good actors on it -- Sigourney Weaver, Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds -- and they have made the show so accessible. Plus, everyone is so multi-dimensional that it gets you hooked and rooting for all of them -- even though maybe they don't make the best choices. I was rooting for everyone.

THEATERMANIA: What was it like to going head to head with Sigourney Weaver each week?
ROGER BART: There's a lot of sparring between her and I and it almost feels like we're siblings at times. There is a lot of bad blood and bad history between our characters politically -- and I have a feeling there was something personal -- but at the same time we're both trying to do some good in the world. Our strategies are just absolutely opposed. It's contentious but fun. We had a lot of laughs on set because sometimes this stuff is so serious.

TM: Why do you think the background of politics is so popular with audiences today?
RB: I think the world got a lot smaller and people are becoming more aware of everything, because we're a cult of television. I think politics, although not absolutely the freshest backdrop, is a really interesting one -- particularly on a show like this, where you spend as much time within the politics of a family. And I think hospitals and murders have been done.

TM: You're work with some amazing people in The Producers, including Richard Kind, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Rebecca Romjin. And you'll be reuniting with your Broadway co-star Gary Beach. Is that exciting?
RB: Gary's a really dear friend. We were old enough to know, when we were first doing The Producers in 2001, that we were in the midst of a very unique experience. So to go back and utter these words again with him is fantastic. Gary and I have said we can do these parts when we're in our 60s, if we're still walking and people don't mind seeing me in a cat suit! Although I think I'll just get funnier and funnier looking in a cat suit as I get older.

TM: Tell me about working with Richard Kind and Jesse Tyler Ferguson?
RB: I did the show as Leo with Richard Kind and he was a great Max. And when they mentioned Jesse Tyler Ferguson's name as Leo, it was a no-brainer. He's going to be truly fantastic. He's really right for it and the audience will love him!

TM: So you're fine about seeing someone else do Leo?
RB: I love seeing somebody else do it. I don't own these parts. I just did them for awhile. I'll be delighted to see what he does. And I'll have fun. That's what the show is about -- just having fun.

TM: Do you make a concerted effort to balance your work in film and television with the stage?
RB: I think it's really, really good for me to be on stage once a year. It keeps your chops good. There's nothing else like it. These opportunities to go on Broadway are the most special thing, and although the idea of doing something for a year or more is daunting. I love it. It's my church and raises my spirit. It's good for my soul. There's something about that relationship between actor and audience. Whether you get it on Broadway or in a fine local playhouse there's no greater drug. Every time I get to do TV, film and a play in the same year it's my dream come true.


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