This week I got the privilege to sit down and talk with the great and wonderful character actor Richard Riehle who has appeared in Office Space, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, and the tv show you may have known even existed Ferris Buller(yes based off the film). He was such a great guy to talk to hope you enjoy the interview!
Interviewer: All right, can you hear me?
Richard Riehle: Yes, I can. You can hear me?
Interviewer: Yes, sir.
Richard Riehle: Good.
Interviewer: Richard, let’s talk about what got you to being involved with Limbo.
Richard Riehle: With Limbo? Well, it was a project that got sort of sent over the transom. I didn’t really know anyone involved in it at that point, but Shannon Makhanian who was the casting director knew me. And she told Mark that she thought I might be good for this role and so I got sent the script, I read it. I said, “This is terrific. This looks like a lot of fun.” And so I talked with him over the phone and he seemed to be happy with the idea of me doing Phil.
Interviewer: Right. And I appreciated the kind of spin on purgatory movies where, so like the 12 Angry Men, [inaudible 00:01:03] about the process of finding out is this man really guilty or does he have a redeeming capability about him?
Richard Riehle: Right. Yeah. I thought it was a very interesting idea that, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate that every soul has that question, but this particular one, there seemed to be enough of a iffiness about it that they sent down an angel to defend him.
Interviewer: Right. And it’s kind of like the redeeming thing, well, is he really a bad guy or is he just kind of a victim of circumstance where this is what he knew his entire life. And I think that’s kind of the vibe I got from it that he wasn’t so evil as much as this is what he was surrounded by his whole life. And of course, this is what he knew, it’s what he grew up with and so that he could be redeemed in that kind of way.
Richard Riehle: I think that’s absolutely true. And I think that’s what was so interesting in Mark’s concept is that he brings back these people that are dead for whatever reason. Either because they get killed in the event that sent him to limbo or there’re his parents who are no longer alive. I love the way that he introduces things totally unexpectedly, like with Jimmy’s mother and then in the end, when it comes down to the redemption act, you never see it. And so you’re sort of left with having to make that decision on your own, based on what you’ve been given so far.
Interviewer: And the dialogue in this movie, it’s just kind of so quick, it’s witty, it’s smart and it’s ferocious and then it stings like a bee sometimes, it’s just so quick and it’s just on point. What were your first reactions, reading the script?
Richard Riehle: I’m sorry?
Interviewer: What was your first reactions upon reading the script for this?
Richard Riehle: Well, again, it’s such an interesting story with so many twists and turns and so many interesting characters that are thrown at you in different ways that I was constantly wanting to pursue what the end was, wanting to find out what had happened. And then only to find out that in a way, the A story is not important.
Interviewer: Good. The cast has such great chemistry, and it has such gravitized with the presence of everybody involved from Lew to you, to Veronica Cartwright to James Purefoy. What was it [inaudible 00:04:28] working with everybody on that set, it must’ve been a really magical feeling to just know you have those actors working beside you.
Richard Riehle: It was completely that, and that actually was a big selling point for me, because I realized when I read the script that Phil was going to be there for all of that. So, I got to watch each of these actors come in and do their turn and that was really exciting. I really enjoyed that. And like you say, it was just an amazing group of people, most of whom might I’d seen before of course, on a number of things, but the only one I’ve ever worked with before was Scottie Thompson, and so that was exciting to actually be in the room and sometimes in the scene with all of these people like Veronica and James and Peter Jacobson and Lew. Yeah.
Interviewer: Me and Lew were talking about this earlier. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on it, but Lew said he loved James Purefoy’s approach to having Lucifer kind of be like a George W. Bush character.
Richard Riehle: I did too. I was amazed that he comes in and he has this incredible presence. I’d seen him in a number of things like The Following and Pennyworth where he’s laser like and his entrance is like that, you kind of go, “Oh my God.” He’s somebody that we’ve been threatened with him all the way through the movie until his entrance. And he comes in and suddenly he’s this sort of laid back guy. “Well, all right, tell me what’s going on here. I don’t know what it is.”
Interviewer: Yeah. It’s like something you don’t expect James Purefoy and he knocks the cameo out of the park. It’s like, what was that? Because like you said [inaudible 00:06:38] being laser focused in stuff like The Following and Pennyworth and just seeing him laid back like that was just amazing to watch. And it was so fun to see at that point, have fun with the character like that. He can kind of bring his own twist on it.
Richard Riehle: Absolutely, but I’d say at the same time, you still were afraid of, you didn’t know what was going to happen and what he was going to do next.
Interviewer: I wanted to ask you about some of your previous work as well, if you don’t mind.
Richard Riehle: Not at all. That’d be great.
Interviewer: Oh, because you worked on Rob zombie’s Halloween II and I just interviewed Lew and he was on Rob Zombie’s Halloween s
Richard Riehle: Halloween I. Yeah.
Interviewer: I was thinking to myself, if one thing happened or one thing went to another, you two might’ve been working on the same Halloween with Rob Zombie. And he said Rob was this fantastic guy to work with. So how was your interaction with Rob and what it felt like working on a property like that that’s been important to so many horror fans for so long?
Richard Riehle: Oh yeah. Rob is great. And I got involved in Halloween II because I had done a little independent film called Little Big Top with Sid Haig and so when they needed somebody, they were having weather problems in Georgia, who would have thought? And they had a condo that had got mired in this field and it was going to take him a week to get it out and they needed somebody immediately to come in and do Buddy the night watchman. And so Sid gave Rob my name and I came and he couldn’t have been more helpful and at the same time, giving me as much leeway as I wanted to do that role. And it was terrific. We had a great time and of course, where it’d been raining for a week there, the night that we were shooting there was no rain, so they had fire trucks out there giving us all that water.
What was really nice was that he invited me to come and work on 3 From Hell. It’s a wonderful little role as the sheriff and when I got there to the set, he came in and said, “I’m so glad you could come and do it.” It was so nice to know that he still knew who I was actually, but also that he was so positive and so supportive. And he said, “I was looking at these interviews with these sheriffs who were talking about searches that they were doing, and this one sheriff popped up and he looked like you. I said, Oh my God, I know a guy that could be perfect for this.” And then he actually called me and I got to come in and work on that, which was a real treat as well. Yeah, he couldn’t be a better person to work with on any genre, but certainly on the horrors.
Interviewer: Now I’m really happy that i have you on tonight because I knew you were in 3 From Hell, but now I’ve also had two other cast members all on infamous horrors from 3 From Hell with Bill Oberst Jr. and Bill Moseley, so now I can tell Rob Zombie I created my own 3 From Hell on this one site.
Richard Riehle: Exactly.
Interviewer: Richard, I also wanted to ask you about Office Space. A lot of people may recognize you from your work at Office Space. How does it feel that that movie is still being quoted and it still just has this huge following that it still has?
Richard Riehle: Well, it’s amazing. They just had, I think it was this year, they just had a big 20th anniversary thing for Office Space. Mike wrote this from his own experience, which I think is why it’s so telling and why people still respond to it. But, we went down to Austin for a month, we had 29 days to shoot in Austin and he had taken a long time casting it and when he got the cast he wanted, a big part of it was people that would enjoy hanging around together because a lot of us were in most of the scenes. And then he brought us all down there and he said, “Look, we’re going to work long days, but at night, I’ll take you to some of those [inaudible 00:11:51] the restaurants that I enjoyed eating in, and some of the clubs where my band used to play, and we’re going to enjoy doing this.” And we did. he couldn’t have been a better host.
What amazed me though and like you say, is that it just continues to go. People who work in offices now will quote it and if some new people don’t understand it, they’ll have a screening of it. I was in Laramie in Wyoming, shooting The Laramie Project, and we were in a Best Western Motel, which was the only bar that was open and a bunch of young women came in and they were sitting there and looking toward our table and there were all sorts of other people that they could have been looking at rather than me, I was sure that was the case. But they came over and they said, “Were you in Office Space?” I said, “Well, yes.” They said, “Oh, we thought you were and we called our boyfriends and do you think you’ll be here tomorrow night? Because they all want to come and meet you.” And it was rather some of the people who had had bigger credits for that.
But it’s something that has just continued. Right around the time it had opened, I was doing a play in New York and I’d walk down the streets of New York, like what you do, and I’d noticed people looking and so I began to kind of listen in to hear what they were saying, and about 80% of them recognized me from Office Space. And that was incredible that that was the thing. And through the years, so I think probably that’s the movie that I’m most recognized for.
Interviewer: Well, Richard, thank you so much for joining me tonight. It’s been really fun.
Richard Riehle: Oh, it’s my pleasure, thank you.
Interviewer: And hope you stay safe Richard and have a great week.
Richard Riehle: Well, thank you. You too. Are you down in North Carolina somewhere?
Interviewer: Yeah. I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Richard Riehle: Oh, how great. Yeah, it’s a lovely place. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I really liked it.
Interviewer: Well, next time, if you are over here, just stay in contact.
Richard Riehle: That’d be great.
Interviewer: All right, well, have a good night, Richard.
Written by: AJ Friar