August 20, 2008

Victor Garber’s Star Grows Brighter


Victor Garber is the rare performer who is so talented and versatile that he moves effortlessly between roles on television, in movies and on stage.

He's portrayed both Jesus ("Godspell") and the Devil ("Damn Yankees"), been nominated for Tony Awards for both musicals and plays, played Jennifer Garner's dad for five seasons on "Alias" and Thomas Andrews in the 1997 film "Titanic."

Victor, still youthful-looking at 59, is now a part of one of the most unique shows on television: ABC's "Eli Stone." He plays attorney Jordan Wethersby on the quirky comedy-drama that returns for a second season in October.

"I wasn't intending to go back to television but I really loved the script," Victor told me recently. "I read it and I thought, 'This is so great.' That's what inspires me to do anything -- what's on the page. So I was very happy to get involved and it's turned out to be one of the best experiences I've had."

"Eli" stars Jonny Lee Miller in the title role, an attorney who starts seeing things, like George Michael singing in the firm's offices. His visions are due to a brain aneurism and result in him taking on cases for moral rather than financial reasons.

"He's seen something in Eli that has awakened something in him and that's such a wonderful thing to play," Victor said of his character. "He's sort of a reminder of who he used to be and I think that just continues this season."

Another thing that continues is that the characters occasionally break into song.

"I'm so happy to be used the way I'm used in this show because I get to do a lot of things," Victor said. "I was stunned when they threw 'Freedom' at me and 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.' I really didn't expect anything.

"Even though my background is Broadway pretty much and I used to be a folk singer, this was very, very different for me and I was very nervous. I'm just thrilled that they threw them at me and that I was able to pull them off on some level."

Victor, whose film debut came as the lead in 1973's feature film version of "Godspell," is back on the big screen this fall as murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in "Milk."

The film stars Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the county supervisor killed with Moscone by Dan White (Josh Brolin).

"It's an amazing project and I'm thrilled to be a part of it," he said. "I worked with Sean and Josh. It's a small part but I loved the experience and I love (director) Gus Van Sant. I think it will be a great movie."

Victor has remained close to his "Alias" co-star Garner and even officiated her wedding to Ben Affleck.

So how does the role on "Stone" compare to that of spy Jack Bristow on "Alias"?

"'Alias' was such a challenge in terms of being able to follow it," Victor conceded. "We used to joke about it all the time -- delivering lines, then I'd say, 'I have no idea what I'm talking about right now.' Fortunately the fans could explain it all to me when they'd run into me."

"I'm very lucky," he added. "I've had 'Alias' then 'Justice' which was short but I loved doing it and now this. I feel like I won the Lotto."

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