Call Answered: Raymond J. Barry: "Shooter" on USA Network
From film to television to theatre, Raymond J. Barry is everywhere: Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Man Walking, Training Day, Flubber, The Ref, Cool Runnings, Justified, Law and Order, Lost, CSI, and The X Files are just some of the projects Raymond has been part of. He's also written and starred in many of his own plays around the country.
Below we discuss Raymond joining this series, his character on the show, his love of theatre and family.
1. What inspired you to become an actor? A professor at Brown University named Jim Barnhill asked me to be in a play written by William Inge, called Picnic. The character, "Hal," was an ex-football player. I was playing varsity football at the time for Brown University, so he asked me if I was interested. He invited me to audit his theater class, which I did. I ended up doing the play and during the following semester I took his class. Much to the chagrin of the football and track coaches, I performed roles in four more plays before I graduated. That same professor got me into Yale Drama School, after I graduated from Brown with a degree in philosophy.
2. You have worked in all three mediums, film, TV and stage. Which is your favorite and why? I like all three equally, but stage offers something personal, since I write and perform my own plays throughout the United States and Europe. I performed my play, Once in Doubt three hundred times in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Yale University, three productions in Los Angeles and it was also done at the University of Dakota and at the University of Michigan. The play offered an opportunity to play an "artist" in the throes of a dysfunctional relationship, a role that would not have been given me in the commercial world of film and television because of the clichéd notion that I am too "athletic looking" to be cast as an artist. When I write and perform my own plays, I can choose the character to play and say words that I am compelled to say, rather than be forced to be boxed into other people’s notion of who I am. I can play many characters, some of whom are soft and vulnerable and aware of beauty in the world. I can write those roles for me to play, which gives me independence in the world of casting. This has been true of all of my plays, Mother’s Son, Back When/Back Then, Awake in a World that Encourages Sleep, Foreclosure or Yelling at Women Walking Their Dogs. All of these plays have been performed throughout the country, as well at Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland, and New York City at La Mama, the Public Theater and Theater for the New City. They are also published in my anthology, Mother’s Son and other plays.
3. You have just joined the USA Network series Shooter. What made you want to be on this show? Two factors made me want to be on the USA Network series Shooter. The first factor is that I like to work, and for that reason I will never turn down a job. The second factor is income. They paid me. I have four kids, two of whom I have sent through college debt free with two more to go. My eighteen-year-old is about to go to Sara Lawrence College in the fall. He’s been given a thirty thousand dollar Merit Scholarship and I must pay forty thousand dollars for a total of seventy thousand dollars per year. It’s important to me personally to send my kids through college, more important than being too fussy about what parts I’m willing to play. I’m an actor; I’ll play anything. I gotta get the money for my kids’ education, simple as that. Besides, I really like acting. I really like to do it without being picky and choosey. I’m a worker. I don’t like resting.
4. What can you tell us about the character? The character is smart, very smart, both willing and able to articulate his thoughts and wishes and very, very tough.
5. What do you relate to most about your character and one characteristic of his that you are grateful that you do not possess? My character is sure of himself, sure of his world, which is a small one. I believe I’ve been on this planet long enough also to be sure of my place in it. I exist in the world of theater, the world of acting, which, granted, is an expanded world given how many people it touches, but in fact I can function within those broadened boundaries within a private sector of my own mind. "Being Present" is what gets me through a day, even though I’m dealing with new actors, new directors and new people every day. My world changes constantly, but I have learned to "be present" and that is a fixed state of mind that is secure and stable. I have learned to create my own criteria for stability within a changing professional environment by simply "being present." "Being present" is not an abstract state of mind. It is a tactile one, one that I see and feel. My character in The Shooter is also "present," but his world is much more limited, bounded by the walls of his office, etc.
His one characteristic that I am glad I do not possess is his unwillingness to expand the boundaries of his life. On the contrary, I have expanded mine to the consciousness of all the characters I play, all the locations I have traveled to, and all the directors with whom I’ve worked. My mind is expanded by my work. The character’s has not.
6. What is it like to join a TV series that is already two seasons down? What are the challenges coming into an established family? What is exciting about it? Joining a TV series that is already two seasons down is no different than entering any show. I’ve been doing this for fifty-eight years now, so the edge of nerves that comes with the territory is useful and not debilitating. I have established a method for myself to arrive for work prepared, ready to kick it out without a fuss, without holding up production by forgetting lines, etc. I simply do the work as a professional without making things difficult. It’s more fun that way. They don’t have to worry about me; that is, whether I’ll come through for them with good work. And I enjoy being a pro.
With regard to excitement, acting is intrinsically exciting; nothing boring about it at all, constantly challenged by the newness of it all, a new character, new people with whom to collaborate, new directors to please and discuss issues, etc. It’s all cool.
7. You are currently being considered for a Prime Time Emmy. What is this process like? I haven’t noticed any process to speak of, aside from living the life of an actor, which I’ve been doing for decades. I see nothing different. As I’m writing this, I’m in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, in a hotel, waiting until my 2:30 pm pickup when I’ll shoot a film called Made in Chinatown. My family is in Los Angeles. Today at the shoot, I’ll punch a heavy bag, while saying lines, dressed in a tank top and shorts, working out, while I give instructions to a mafia boss about how to handle a situation. The whole situation is par for the course; away from home, punching a heavy bag while delivering my lines and living in a hotel. It’s the way I live. My salary will pay for three quarters of my son’s tuition at Sara Lawrence College, which is great. If this is the process for winning an Emmy, so be it, but it’s no different than my life.
8. Who do you want to work with that you have gotten a chance to? Brando would have been nice, but he’s dead. Montgomery Clift, but he’s gone too.
9. What do you want to accomplish in your career that you haven’t already? I’d like to win an Oscar or an Emmy and send two more kids through college. I also want my kids to feel satisfied with life, which I feel somewhat, not all, responsible for.
10. Being the father of four kids, what is the most challenging part of being a father. What is the most rewarding part? The most challenging part of being a father is showing, by example alone, how to live a life that is both mentally and physically healthy. This in my mind would involve making choices that are congruent with the health of the soul, what makes one happy, truly happy, which doesn’t exclusively have to do with earning money. A person’s "spirit" must be fed, which has so very much to do with what one does for an occupation. Education is so very important to be exposed to the varied possibilities one can choose for a life. I discovered acting at Brown. Before that I was interested in football for an occupation. Within a three day period I was drafted by the Boston Patriots and accepted at Yale Drama School. I had to make a decision and chose Yale. The coach who recommended me to the head coach for the Patriots said, “What? You want to be an actor? What are you, crazy?!!!” Those options would not have been available to me if I hadn’t gotten a scholarship to Brown University. I want my kids to have the same education and the same exposure to possibilities as I had, but that means going away from home, going to college where so many different interests are nurtured for a kid.
The most rewarding part of being a father is watching my kids smile, and laugh and grow spiritually.
More on Raymond:
Raymond J. Barry is a veteran of both screen and stage work. Some of Raymond’s feature film credits include Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Man Walking, The Deep End, Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story, Training Day, Flubber, The Ref, The Chamber, COP, Falling Down, K-2, Rapid Fire, Cool Runnings, and Sudden Death.
His many television appearances include the series Justified, Cold Case, Law and Order, Lost, CSI, Alias, The Cleaner, The X Files, Tales from the Crypt, and L.A. Law.
For his role in Steel City, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 2007. For his role in Interview with the Assassin, he received the Best Actor award at the New York International Independent Film Festival in 2002.
In theatre, he began with such legendary companies as the Living Theater, and Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater where he toured around the world, and took part in such creations as The Serpent, Terminal, Mutation Show, Masques, Endgame, and Nightwalk.
Raymond went on to perform in more than eighty productions in New York, from Broadway to Off Broadway, including the Tony nominated musical Happy End by Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht. For his work in theatre, he received a Dramalogue Award for his lead performance in Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. He also received a Dramalogue Award and L.A. Drama Critics Award for Writing and Best Actor, for his play Once in Doubt.
He has been married to writer Robyn Mundell for the past twenty years. Together they have four children, Oona, Raymond, Liam and Manon.