Guest Artist Q&A: Henry Haggard

Henry Haggard as Black Stache

Henry Haggard, a professional actor coming from Nashville, Tennessee, made his LTR debut this week! He is playing the role of Black Stache in LTR’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher and has been an incredible addition to the LTR family. Henry Haggard is a native of Lexington, Kentucky but has lived in Nashville since 1996. He has performed locally and regionally with Nashville Children’s Theatre, The Lexington Children’s Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Mockingbird Theatre, The Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Opera, Kentucky Repertory Theatre, Actor’s Bridge Ensemble Theatre, American Stage Theatre and The Kennedy Center. Selected roles include Prospero in The Tempest, Macbeth in Macbeth, Hugo Taney in God’s Man in Texas, Dr. Amos in Smoke; A Ballad of the Nightriders, Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross, Morgan in The Drawer Boy and Ray in Yankee Tavern. Screen credits include Ambush (1992 PBS), Reception to Follow (Sundance Film Channel, 1995), Second Chance (Ruckus Films, 2004), Prism (Sony 2007), The Prodigal Son (Compass Films 2007), Blood Rogues (2009), Veggie Tales: McLarry & the Stinky Cheese (Dreamworks, 2013-14) Beast of Balor (short 2013), Boulevard (Camelia Entertainment, 2014) Closer to God (2014), Paraphilia, (short, 2015), Agents of Fortune, (Web Series 2015) The Committee, (web series 2014-15) Wonderboy (short, 2016). Henry was the 2000 recipient of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Ingram Acting Fellowship, the 1989 recipient of the Kentucky chapter of the National Arts and Letters Society Theatre Award for Excellence and the former Chairman of the Nashville Actor’s Equity Association’s Liaison Committee.

Here are the questions and answers from our interview with Henry Haggard:

What inspired you to become an actor and what have been some of your favorite experiences throughout your career?

“I told my parents I wanted to be an actor around age 5 and, except for a brief consideration of law school in the mid-1990’s, I never wavered. I think my biggest inspiration were the live sketch comedy shows I watched in the 60’s and 70’s. The Carol Burnett show and Red Skelton being the two most influential. My favorite theatrical experience thus far was helping to grow local professional theatre in Nashville, Tennessee over the last 25 years. I’m very proud of that artistic community and it’s still growing.”

How has your experience working with UNC college students been different than working with other actors during your time as a professional actor?

“Working with UNC students has been a phenomenal experience. I was here 11 years ago to do Prospero in The Tempest and I was impressed with the program then. It is fantastic to see how much it’s grown since then and how professional the students are and what great training they’re getting. The cast of Peter and the Starcatcher is a creative machine that has been exhilarating to be a part of. So, other than the fact that I’m 30 years older than just about everyone else in the show, there isn’t much difference at all between most of my professional experience outside of UNC.”

How did you prepare for an outrageous character like Black Stache?

“Black Stache is the role of a lifetime. I mostly focused on keeping my body healthy and letting the script shine through. It is such a well written piece with so much creative room for an actor that most of the ‘prep’ is letting those creative energies flow and not being afraid to try anything!”

What is your favorite part of Peter and the Starcatcher and what do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

“There are so many moments in the show that I could call ‘my favorite’. Right now I am going to stick with dressing up like a mermaid and singing with a bunch of other guys dressed up like mermaids to open the second act. It is so much great, silly fun. My goal is for audiences to leave the theater with their sides slightly aching from how much they laughed. If that happens, I will feel like we have done our jobs.”

What is some advice you would give to actors who are looking to establish a successful career?

“The best advice I think I can give to young actors is the focus on your artistic independence. And what I mean by that is that no artist, no matter the medium, has it easy. You have to fight to stay in your career, even though there will be many obstacles that will try to force you to quit. Embrace the challenge and it will serve to strengthen your artistic resolve, as well as give you the independence to maintain a healthy and productive career. Which is probably better summed up in the Constantine Stanislavsky quote, ‘Love art in yourself, but not yourself in art'”.

Go see Henry Haggard and the rest of the cast in their final three performances of Peter and the Starcatcher! Tonight at 7:30pm, tomorrow at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00pm.