Actor/author Clive Rosengren recently recorded his two mystery novels, “Red Desert” and “Murder Unscripted,” with Blackstone Audiobooks here in Ashland. The novels feature luscious language, compelling plots and a charismatic private eye who sleuths in the world of show business. Rosengren’s acting career, which spanned 40 years on stage, screen and television, provides in-depth research into the fascinating world portrayed in his books. We met one afternoon at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.
EH: What do you look for in a director?
CR: The most interesting experiences I’ve had in doing stage work were with directors. Some can be extremely creative. Some can be extremely tyrannical. I don’t think that a director that has everything plotted-out leaves a lot of room for creativity. It can’t be one-sided. There has to be collaboration. There’s got to be a symbiotic relationship between actor and director.
EH: How does the acting profession affect family?
CR: I got married in ’84, on the way to Los Angeles, Calif. She was an actor too, so we were competing for work at the same time. The financial insecurity is really tough. You never know where the next job’s coming from. I remember at one point, my wife had gotten a job way out in the west valley. We had only one car. We thought, “What are we going to do now?” I had to have a car for auditions. It turned out that two days later, I got a residual check for a commercial that allowed me to get a second car, a clunker. It was that sort of insecurity. We used to pile up bills, the ones that were due were on the top, and you worked your way down. It can be pretty stressful, unless you are fortunate enough to get into a series or something like that. It’s just sometimes the luck of the draw.
One thing I would advise any young actor is to develop a discipline that you can fall back on. I don’t think that you can allow that business to be your entire life, or else it will drive you nuts. Acting is only part of you. Find something away from it, whether it is a small business, computer technology or whatever. I think it’s so important, because if you don’t have something that you can fall back on, the frustration is going to drive you nuts.
EH: What is it about theater that compelled you to give your life to it?
CR: It gave me self-confidence. There is something very special about creating a character. Just the experience of digging into that character, throwing it out to an audience and coming away from it saying, “Wow, I think I said something to those people, with regard to that character and that play.”
When I was in Cleveland, we did the first American production of that eight-and-a-half hour version of “Nicholas Nickleby.” It still remains one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had as a stage actor just to see how it affected audiences. I played seven different characters. Great writing, great characters, great story. Dickens was a master storyteller. It was an extremely popular play.
When you have a real good part in a real good play, it’s just magic to find the identity between that character and yourself. I think it’s also an opportunity to explore different aspects of yourself. The closer you get to a character you find that you have more sides to yourself than you probably give yourself credit for. It’s really fun.
Audio recordings of Clive Rosengren’s Red Desert and Murder Unscripted are available through blackstoneaudio.com. They also can be purchased through Amazon.