KC Q&A with Tuc Watkins

Image via Facebook.com/KCREP

Tuc Watkins, actor, talks to us about preparing for roles, supporting the local LGBTQ community and performing in his hometown.


Favorite Place to Show Off in Kansas City

The National WWI Museum and Memorial grounds have great perspective on our city's skyline and our nation's past. The recent renovation of the WWI museum is especially impressive.

Favorite KC Tradition

The American Royal is a great annual event. I've gone since I was a kid. It's where I learned that the Kansas City Royals got their name from an award-winning cow!

The full interview

Q: You recently returned to Kansas City, your hometown, and starred in "Constellations," a play at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. What does it mean to you to perform in your hometown?

Image via Facebook.com/KCREP

I've spent my entire adult life performing on the coasts and abroad. I'd never performed in my hometown until this year. What an amazing experience to work with Eric Rosen, Bree Elrod, and everyone else I met at KC Rep. The talent, production value, and attention to detail is as high as I've seen anywhere.

Q: Your acting journey has spanned decades and a variety of different roles and mediums, from daytime and primetime TV to feature films and even viral videos. What does the preparation process look like before you take on each new role?

Preparing for a role in a film or a play starts as a mathematical process for me. I plot the story and character on a graph, noting their respective arcs. Sounds nerdy, but it's extremely helpful. For any given scene we're rehearsing or shooting, I have an immediate reference where the character needs to be emotionally and energetically.

Q: Oftentimes characters in TV shows are fluid, in that their motives, beliefs, characteristics and more may shift between episodes and seasons. What role do actors play in that process, and how do you decide which changes to make and when?

Peter Lefcourt created a TV series called Beggars and Choosers with the late Brandon Tartikoff. He told me early on while we were shooting the series, "Right now, I know your character better than you, but eventually your will know the character better than me." I learned a lot from that.

Q: Kansas City film (with big help from the KC Film Office) has seen a resurgence in recent years. With that in mind, how important is having strong, local support in a community for film and the arts?

It's essential. And it works best when there is a collective "want" for it from all sides of the equation. When artists, infrastructure, and business come together to advance a community's artistic brand, great things can happen both socially and economically. 

Q: Of all the actors, writers and directors that you’ve worked with over the years, who’s made the biggest impact on your career, and how?

I've learned the most from all the "divas" that I've worked with. Strong-willed, brilliant women with big-personalities. From Erika Slezak and Robin Strasser—actresses who played the "good witch" and "bad witch" on One Life to Live—to Betty Buckley on the New York stage and all of the women on Desperate Housewives. They have individually and collectively demonstrated how to survive and thrive in a difficult business.

Q: You’re a big advocate for the LGBTQ community. Do you have a plan to continue your advocacy and support for the community here in Kansas City, and what does that look like?

Supporting Kansas City's LGBTQ community means a lot to me as a single, gay dad to four year-old twins. I recently mentored at The Coterie Theatre's Project Pride and look forward to more opportunities to get involved ... if I can find a babysitter!

Q: In addition to the Rep’s Spencer Theatre, what are your favorite theaters in KC, as well as places to perform in town?

I've always been a fan of the Unicorn Theatre. My mom took me to see their production of Wallace Shawn's Aunt Dan and Lemon back in the early ‘90s. It helped galvanize my passion to be an actor. And recently I was really impressed by their Hands on a Hardbody, directed by the inimitable, super-talented Missy Koonce.

Q: What’s can’t-miss TV for you right now, and why?

I'm one of those Netflix binge watchers. One episode per night after the kids go to bed helps me decompress. I've liked British crime dramas lately: Broadchurch, Marcella and Happy Valley. Now though I’m in the middle of Bates Motel, which is NOT good for decompressing before bed.

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