Virtually very wannabe actor dreams of moving to Hollywood, going out on their very first audition and so knocking the reading out of the park, that they not only get the role, but they are cast as a series regular.
But everyone knows that only happens on television and not in real life. Especially when are sixty-something, are better known for your theater and writing work, and only became an actor because you’d been teaching about it for so long, you decided you needed some practical experience.
But that is exactly what happened to Robert Michael Morris whose first audition was in 2005 for Lisa Kudrow and her new sitcom The Comeback. One could argue that Morris’ luck ran out there as The Comeback only lasted for thirteen episodes, but even though those thirteen episodes were then the extent of his television resume, Morris went on to play parts on Will & Grace, The Class, Brothers & Sisters, and How I Met Your Mother.
And now Morris is again back to starring aa series regular on Fox’s new sitcom Running Wilde where he plays Mr. Lunt and stars alongside Will Arnett and Keri Russell.
Not bad for a guy in the business all of five years!
AfterElton.com chatted with Morris about his seemingly magic touch, auditioning for Kudrow, and being one of the few older gay men on television.
AfterElton: Let’s start off with you telling me and our readers about Mr. Lunt.
Robert Michael Morris: Running Wilde is about this character named Mr. Lunt… Okay, no, that’s not true. Mr. Lunt was Will Arnett’s nanny when he was a young boy and he’s been with the Wilde family as Steven’s nanny.
His job all of the boy’s life has been to protect him, to make sure nothing bad happens, and to provide what he needs and anything he wants. Now that Steven is an adult, Mr. Lunt continues as his personal secretary and is a little threatened by Keri Russell’s character when she shows up after many years being away. She can upset the balance of power so he’s a little suspicious and a little jealous of Steven’s infatuation with this gorgeous girl.
AE: Now when you say jealous, is he jealous in a parental sort of way, or…
RMM: Oh yeah. Mr. Lunt is not in love with Steven. He feels nothing but paternal or maternal affection towards him. He takes big pride in him…so you could say he loves him, but not in any kind of a sexual way.
AE: I’m told Mr. Lunt is gay on the show, he’s an out character.
RMM: Well, I don’t think he’s an out character on the show. If in fact he’s gay, it’s going to come as a revelation to Mr. Lunt because he doesn’t think of himself that way. He thinks of himself as "this is who I am."
As far as I know, unless the writers are keeping something from me, Mr. Lunt doesn’t have any kind of a sexual life. It certainly hasn’t been shown in the script so far. He’s never mentioned anybody or anything like that. He’s pretty much very dedicated to this man and he lives on the property, so he doesn’t go out or anything as far as I know.
AE: When you play him, do you think of him as a gay man?
RMM: Well, I took my cue from this: in my audition piece, there’s a thing where he explains to someone, "I’m not his nanny, I’m his personal secretary, but I still guard this boy like a mother guarding her prized cub."
I thought that was significant that he thinks of himself more in a maternal/feminine way than he does in a masculine/paternal way. I’m trying to play him in kind of a combination of Franklin Pangborn from the 30s movies and Dom DeLuise. If I can put those two together … because Franklin Pangborn always played a slow-walker. He was very prissy and I think anytime someone is prissy, you tend to think of them as gay.
AE: So what is it like working with Will?
RMM: He’s very funny and he’s very fast. He’s got a very fast wit and I think he comes out of an improv situation so you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. It’s a lot of fun, and you really have to listen and be on your toes because you’re working with a pro here. You have to be very careful.
Morris with Will Arnett