Peter Riegert - Slipping into every role!
Peter Riegert's unfailing ability to slip effortlessly into almost any role, be it dramatic, comedic, or musical, has enabled him to work continuously in films, television and on stage for over four decades.
Riegert marked time in a series of jobs from teaching eighth grade to waiting tables before he decided he wanted to pursue a career as an actor. Soon after settling on show business, the Bronx native joined the improvisational comedy troupe, War Babies.
He obtained his Equity card playing Chico Marx in the stage musical "Minnie's Boys" and went on to appear in several theatrical productions, including the 1976 Off-Broadway hit "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" by David Mamet.
Riegert has appeared memorably in more than 30 films, including the recently SAG and Oscar-awarded "Traffic", the classic "Local Hero", opposite Burt Lancaster, the memorable romantic comedy "Crossing Delancey" and the perennial comedy favorite, "Animal House". He also starred in the "The Mask", opposite Jim Carrey, "Passed Away", "Oscar", opposite Sylvester Stallone, "Object Of Beauty" and "A Man In Love", We Bought a Zoo", and "American Pastoral" among many others.
Riegert most recently appeared in several episodes of the new Kathy Bates driven TV series, "Disjointed", as well as "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", "Dads", "The Good Wife" and multiple episodes of "One Tree Hill", "Damages" and . He starred in Showtime's "Bojangles", opposite Gregory Hines, and in the 2001 season's first several episodes of "The Sopranos". He will next be seen this month in the new ABC drama "The Beast". Riegert has appeared in many made-for-TV movies including, "The Baby Dance", "North Shore Fish" and "Face Down". Other cable features include "The Infiltrator" "Gypsy", opposite Bette Midler, and "Barbarians At The Gate", opposite James Garner, among many others. On network television, Riegert was featured in the infamous final episode of "Seinfeld" and the movies "Jacqueline Susann, The Element Of Truth", "Mystery Dance", "Ellis Island", and the comedy series "Middle Ages".
On Broadway, Riegert has starred in David Mamet's "The Old Neighborhood", "An American Daughter", "The Nerd", "Censored", "Scenes From King Kong" and "Dance With Me", and on the off-Broadway stage in "Road To Nirvana", "The Birthday Party", "Isn't It Romantic", "Sexual Perversity In Chicago" and "A Rosen By Any Other Name".
His experience as an actor--as well as his pre-acting career as a social worker--sustained him in his directorial debut of the short film "By Courier", based on an 0'Henry short story. Legendary jazz musician Al Cooper composed the music for the film which was honored in 2001 with an Academy Award as Best Live Action Short Film.
Riegert adapted and directed "By Courier", employing a host of friends and well wishers in his low-budget effort. His acting experience helped him in inspiring his actors, while his social work experience came in handy in managing the ensuing chaos when both a tornado and torrential rains threatened to scuttle the production, which was planned for and only for that particular weekend in upstate New York. The film subsequently was shown successfully at the Telluride and Hamptons Film Festivals prior to earning its Oscar nod. That lead to his directing and starring in the 2004 Comedy/Drama "King of the Corner" about a man at his wits end who, through a chance encounter with a "freelance rabbi", turns his crisis into a second-chance!
It never occurs to me that acting with a superstar is something to worry about. I figure the bigger, the better, because more will be demanded of me.
--Peter Riegert in The New York Post, April 21, 1997.
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