Robbie Collier Sublett
Robbie Collier Sublett's
name is rather memorable, but you may not have heard of him. However,
you might recognize the face of the strikingly handsome actor. Because
when he isn't basking in the fame and money he makes doing indie
theatre, Mr. Sublett toils away in that obscure thing we know as
Robbie was nominated this
year for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his work in AMERICAN RIVER
produced by Lesser America, a darkly comic drama of small-town
Californian's dreaming of making it big. And on the small screen, this
fall he returns in his recurring role as John Gaultner on the hit CBS
show THE GOOD WIFE and then will appear again on CBS's PERSON OF
INTEREST in 2014.
On the big screen he just
began shooting the Indie Horror flick AIR DISTURBANCE in Jan/Feb 2014
and his 2009 break-out play YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS'
DIVORCE (co-written by Anne Kauffman, Janice Paran, David Barlow,
Matthew Maher, Caitlin Miller and Jennifer R. Morris), produced with The
Civilians and crafted from interviews between the cast and their own
parents about their marriages and divorces, was recently published by
Dramatist Play Services after acclaimed runs at Galapagos, The Flea and
the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The performances were filmed by Park
Pictures, and the footage has been released in short clips with
interactive content through The Civilians' partnership with WNYC.
I tracked Robbie Sublett
across the country until I found him in a weird hotel in Tennessee where
he got very little reception. I didn't ask why he was in a weird hotel
in Tennessee but I did ask him some questions about his work:
BORG: tell me more about
your play YOU BETTER SIT DOWN..., the complex experience of dividing a
family is a big subject to tackle!
ROBBIE: The piece was
developed for several years, from 2006 to its NY production at The Flea
in the spring of 2012. It was obviously a very personal and
delicate/simple show, so the creative process was carried out with much
more sensitivity and care than normal I think because every contributor
was, in a sense, their own best advocate for what parts of their own
narrative merited inclusion. Ultimately we discovered we weren't
telling 4 different stories, we were telling one story about the
trajectory of a love and marriage that one day is flourishing and the
next is no more. So we became less and less attached to our own stories
in a way.
BORG: Wow - how does that work?
ROBBIE: The show was
staged simply and gracefully by our director Anne Kauffman. Just 4
actors in 4 chairs talking directly to the audience. So it really was a
fun challenge every night to just sit down and tell the audience a story
as simply as possible--the only difference being this particular one
just happens to be my own. And since we all played our parents I think
there was an even greater sense of responsibility or duty to do them
justice. I mean, all actors I think have that sense when they engage in
any challenging material. But somehow when you're playing your own mom
on stage every night the prospect of having an "off" show felt downright
criminal. And eventually all the parents portrayed came to see the show
in some iteration and I think their reactions could best be summed up
as general bemusement masking horror masking delight at watching their
BORG: Hilarious! Now,
THE GOOD WIFE is a very popular show, how exciting! What type of role
you do you play on that show and how is it different than what you will
be doing in PERSON OF INTEREST?
ROBBIE: On PERSON OF
INTEREST, I play a dude at a Wall Street firm. It's pretty straight
forward, no bells and whistles. On GOOD WIFE: [spoiler alert!!]
I play one of the 4th year associates at Lockhart/Gardner who
splinters off with Julianna Margulies' character to form her new firm
Florrick, Agos & Associates. It's a blast. The writing is fantastic
and they get such wonderful actors on that show from top to bottom. I
first worked on that show while doing AMERICAN RIVER with Lesser
America. We had to cancel our last day of tech and we thought we might
have to cancel a performance too, but ultimately it was no big deal.
Everything went off without a hitch and Lesser America was so awesome
and understanding. At the time I was playing a meth addict, so putting
on a suit and shooting a scene as a lawyer was a welcomed break and a
bit of detox, frankly. Then, a couple of weeks later I got cast as a
meth addict in another short-lived CBS show GOLDEN BOY. It doesn't
happen often but sometimes you get opportunities where things align like
that: what you're working on onstage feeds something that you're
auditioning for and/or shooting. It's a nice gift from the universe when
it does happen though...especially when it's TV!
BORG: Working in TV sounds very glamorous and lucrative - how has it changed your perception of working in Indie theatre?
ROBBIE: I think the
main gift of participating in indie theater is kind of a "for the love
of the game" type scenario. You hone your skills, get better, and work
on challenging material. Even "small" plays are still usually chewing on
some very large ideas. Big human ideas of the heart and mind. And the
quality people you get working and producing Off-Off-Broadway these days
can be just staggeringly good. And if you're an artist/actor and
engaging with that stuff for no money for 3-6 weeks then generally when
you get an audition for film or TV that just requires you to say "Would
you like some more coffee, ma'am?", it gives you a confidence to be like
"Oh, I got this! I'm gonna serve the shit outta this coffee!"
BORG: What's up next for you??
I'm developing a new
play with The Civilians R&D group. It will have its first public
reading at the end of May 2014. The working title is EAST ON 4TH STREET.
I'm interviewing loads of community members from this small town in
South Texas where I went to high school and creating a play from those
interviews most likely or maybe it will become something totally
See Dramatists Play Service for more information on YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE.