The Patriarch Triumphant: An Interview with Acting Veteran William “Bill” Metzo
By now you’ve probably heard that the World Premiere dramedy Bad Dog by Jennifer Hoppe-House is playing in our Goldman Theater. If you need a refresher: Bad Dog follows the story of Molly Drexler, who after ten years of sobriety, tumbles off “the wagon” by driving a Prius through her house. As her opinionated family descends around her, Molly falls deeper into the hole she’s dug for herself.
In the middle of the drama is William “Bill” Metzo, an esteemed NYC actor who plays Molly’s father, Walter Drexler. Bill’s successful acting career boasts impressive credits including Broadway’s Café Crown, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Cyrano as well as National Tours of Annie, Guys and Dolls, and the Royal National Theatre’s production of Carousel. Additionally, he’s appeared Off-Broadway and in recurring TV roles, won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Actor (Marquis de Sade in Quills), and, as King Lear, lead the Utah Shakespeare Festival in their Tony Award winning season.
Isabella Ward, one of Orlando Shakes’ hard-working marketing interns, sat down with Bill to pick his brain about his career and his role in Bad Dog.
IW: What’s your Twitter pitch for Bad Dog?
BM: It’s a very funny play, timely… you might even see yourself in the characters!
IW: Tell us a little about your character in Bad Dog.
BM: Walter is the patriarch of this dysfunctional family. He comes to fix things–though this is not the first time he’s come to straighten things out. He’s a successful business man.
IW: How did you get your start?
BM: I read my first play, The Valiant, in my high school English class. I read the part of the criminal. In college I was in the drama club but received my BA in Economics. Back then, small schools didn’t have these theater programs like they do now.
IW: What’s the most challenging aspect of acting?
BM: Not to lie, but to be truthful.
IW: This is your third season working with Orlando Shakespeare Theater, after appearing as Polonius in Hamlet and Prospero in The Tempest. What sets Orlando Shakes apart from other theaters?
BM: Well it’s about the work. Jim [Helsinger] is a smart guy and the point of view in his productions have always been fascinating.
IW: You learned from the great Stella Adler and later went on to become an acting coach. What advice do you have for those aspiring actors out there?
BM: You have to really want it so badly. I have kids who ask me if they should go into the theater. If they ask me that, I say “no” because if they don’t know, they’ll be eaten up. There should be no doubt about their desire, because that is the big thing. The beginning is the absolute need to do it.
IW: If you could go back twenty years in your career, what is the advice you’d give yourself?
BM: Be more patient and accepting.
IW: What’s different about working in the theater vs. TV?
BM: The theater is there to uplift. When I studied with Stella we were the “chosen ones”. It was our duty and responsibility to make the world a better place. There is a vast difference between entertainment and art, and you have to know the difference. There’s a quote in Hamlet that goes “Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others”. You play to the one who knows and bring the other 1,499 people to that level. So you don’t play to the lowest common denominator. Theater is a very special place and should be like going to church.
IW: What’s your dream role?
BM: I played [King] Lear ten years ago, but I’d like to do it again. I thought once that if I ever had to write a biography, I would entitle it Carrying Cordelia which I think is a nifty title because it would mean someone hired me to play Lear while I’m still strong enough to carry a woman and young enough to remember the lines. So, yes, I’d like to do Lear again.
IW: Favorite Shakespeare Play?
BM: I have a soft spot for Macbeth. But I think I’ve done 20 or 21 of the 36 plays Shakespeare wrote.
IW: Any closing remarks?
BM: The theater is the only profession I know that uses all of you. It demands your physicality, spirituality, intellect, and your emotional life. I don’t know any other profession that makes those demands.
Come see Bill and the rest of the Bad Dog cast before the show closes on Sunday, May 3. For tickets and information, click here.