He wasn’t interested in the glory or attention. In fact, he didn’t initially participate in any plays.
“I was taking drama classes, but I was still nervous and shy,” he said. “My teacher said — I was a senior — she said, ‘Listen, you can’t take Drama 4 unless you audition for a play.'”
Reluctantly, he agreed to try out for Grease.
“Doesn’t every actor audition for Grease?” he asked.
To his surprise, he landed the part of the dance-show host.
“‘Hey, hey, this is the main brain, Vince Fontaine — spin the sacks of wax here at the house of wax, WAXX,'” Rosenbaum recited. “I still remember because I was sooo nervous.”
He seemed to make a light-year leap from Vince Fontaine to Lex Luthor, the role he played for 10 seasons on the TV series Smallville.
Another seismic revelation is involved in his playing a con man with peerless timing on the TV Land comedy Impastor. A street-wise grifter, the character suddenly finds himself heading a devout Lutheran congregation that mistakes him for the new pastor.
The series has already been renewed for another season.
At age 43, Rosenbaum no longer qualifies as a nervous newcomer.
“If you knew me in high school, I was the shortest kid in high school,” he said. “I didn’t start puberty till late. I didn’t have many friends. I like to call myself ‘ahead of the times.’
“The next morning (after Grease), I was walking down the hallway and a couple of the popular kids said, ‘Hey, you’re pretty funny.’
“So for me, not being me onstage, I could be any weird eccentric; anything I wanted to do onstage, I could do. I didn’t feel like I was being judged. It was my time. And I built slowly through college, doing more plays and off-Broadway. I started to build more confidence, and suddenly I started to realize: ‘Hey, you know what? You might have a career in this!'”
Several people along the way — including his grandmother Ruthie — encouraged him.
In her honor, he wears a tattoo on his arm.
“You need somebody — your grandmother or somebody who believes in you,” he said. “She said, ‘You’re the only one who listens to me.’ . . . I wanted to hear her stories. We’d sit around and talk for hours. I filmed her and interviewed her about her life. She was tough. . . . I learned how to be tough from her.”
Rosenbaum had reached his late 20s when he lost his grandmother.
“Grandma’s death made me cherish the important things more,” he said. “My grandma’s death made me think more about life. People die around you, and, all of a sudden, the world stops and it’s amazing how it takes you back to reality. People say, ‘Do you get over someone’s death?’ You never get over it; you just learn to live with it.”
Although he would like to have a wife and family, Rosenbaum has yet to meet the right woman.
“I had a little dysfunctional family (growing up), and, for me, I always look a little too closely at red flags. I go, ‘Ew, that makes me think of certain things when I was younger.’
“Eventually, I want to have a family, find somebody who’s patient with me. The last girl I went out with was a teacher from Montreal. She was a great girl, but she was too far away. But I don’t give up.”
One could say that Michael Rosenbaum’s prayers were answered when TV Land’s Impastor came his way. For the Smallville alum not only found in the comedy perhaps “the perfect role” – as a charming, extremely non-religious con man who co-opts the identity and life of a clergyman (who he later learns is gay) — it came on a show that proved to have legs, and as such earned a Season 2 pick-up weeks ahead of this Tuesday’s finale.
In a TV market that is “oversaturated with so many shows, I couldn’t believe how happy I was. I was just elated” about the renewal, Rosenbaum shares. “I know Impastor is hard to find, I know it’s [on at] 10:30, I know it’s the opposite of TV Land, but we were hanging in there, and I could tell that word was spreading.”
On the occasion of Impastor‘s freshman finale, TVLine caught up with Rosenbaum, who currently is on location filming the dark indie comedy Last Days of Summer with William Fichtner.
TVLINE | I was surprised when Impastor first rolled around that there was a bit of a furor over the whole religion thing. Do you feel that has fallen by the wayside since?
You know, we never wanted to make fun of Christianity or homosexuality…. It was just a slice-of-life, funny, goofy comedy, making fun of everybody but in a subtle way. And the people who are religious… I know a pastor where I grew up who’s like, “I’m not offended at all.” He cracked up!
TVLINE | The church is more a backdrop for the show. The same way thatCheers had “types,” all of us know a Dora at our church,
we know an Alden…
Also, Buddy is a fish out of water, and he’s a con man, so the idea isn’t to make fun of Christianity, it’s to take over this pastor’s life, get his money and get out – but then something keeps making him stay. I think people have a propensity to judge a book by its cover, but I’m like, “Watch the show and you’ll see, it has nothing to do with that.”
TVLINE | I mean, has Buddy even set foot in the church since Episode 2?
Right, I had like a couple sermons the whole year. It’s not that he makes fun of religion, it’s that he doesn’t know jack s–t about it. It’s funny because I don’t know jack s–t. either, so it was the perfect role for me.
TVLINE | I love how much the show gets away with. Has there been anything that did not quite make it in?
Man, I’ve managed to put my bare ass in the show three times — so Sara Rue said, “Cut it down to just one ass” if we got renewed. [Laughs] When I read the script, I said TV Land’s not going to do this, there’s no way.
I’m not going to do this because they’re gonna shoot it and then take it all out. But then I went to the guys at [TV Land parent] Viacom and TV Land and they were so supportive. Like, “We want it to be edgy but we don’t want it to feel forced.” So, it’s not like we’retrying to swear, we just wanted to make an original piece of programming where people could sit down and have a laugh and not know where the story is going. And even though some crazy stuff happens – like, Buddy is having sex with a prostitute in the woods when a kid takes his picture and blackmails him – we’re always striving to keep it grounded.
TVLINE | One of the conceits of the show is that in every episode, Buddy comesthisclose to being found out. Has there been a time reading the script when you thought, “Oh, for sure he’ll get caught this time”?
There’s always the element when I read it like, “How is he going to get out of this one?” Like the episode where the Fenwicks are in town and it becomes: How does Buddy meet these people who say they’ve met [the real] Jonathan Barlow before? It’s fun to do that stuff because it’s also difficult, because you have to put a smile on your face but you can’t play it too campy or it becomes too much. But yeah, I love that’s its serialized, that there are always twists and turns.
TVLINE | Speaking of which, last week left us with quite a cliffhanger. Did Taylor Cole murder poor Dora (played by Sara Rue)? Because that’d be sad.
We’ll just have to see, won’t we! [Laughs] But it’s pretty cool how you have all of these elements in play – this guy Damon’s after me, so he hires someone to kill me, and you’ve also got the cops starting to catch up to me…. Everything’s going to come to a head in the finale. There’s a lot that goes on.
TVLINE | I have to imagine someone finds out his secret in the finale. That’d be a logical move. Kind of like how a superhero series
slowly reveals a secret identity.
It’s funny because Alexa (Mircea Monroe) is wondering, “What kind of pastor are you?”
TVLINE | He killed her ex-boyfriend!
I killed this guy! So obviously she knows there’s something odd going on…. Everybody’s had some ideas.
TVLINE | I feel like, storytelling-wise, fun could be had with any scenario. If Alexa finds out, she’d keep quiet since he did her a solid. If it’s Alden (David Rasche), he could blackmail him with the Ashlee/hooker thing….
And if Russell finds out, maybe there’s some heavy petting to buy his silence…. It’s fun because we’ve come full circle. In the pilot, I open the door and the guys who are after me are there. And now that I’ve started to get a little comfortable in town, in the finale it all comes to a head. It’s time for Buddy to get out. Ladner is the best scam he’s ever pulled, but he’s really pushing it at this point, so I think he’s gotta flee.
TVLINE | Speaking of Alden’s affair, I didn’t realize until last week that the actress playing Ashlee is Lindsey Gort aka teenage Samantha on The CW’s The Carrie Diaries.
You know what, Lindsey’s so great. I always say how hard it is to be a guest star but she comes in and just owns it. We’re like, “In one scene you’re behind a tree having sex… and now you’re making out with the president of the church.” That’s the great thing about this show – we really have fun together. Even David Rasche — he is a little older than us but he’s a goofball, too.
TVLINE | Speaking of guest stars, people do love their little “mini-reunions.” Who from Smallville would you like to see bring their comedy chops toImpastor?
That’s a really good question…. I mean, Tom [Welling] and I are still buddies – I’m a Jew but I had a Christmas tree decorating party last year and he made an ornament and brought it over. So, Tom’s got a really fun, really dry sense of humor…. It’d be a blast if there was something for him.
TVLINE | Like, maybe he’s the onetime BMOC from Ladner College or something….
Yeah! Or he could be a criminal in town. Tom would be a blast. I also think Annette O’Toole (who played Martha) is really funny, she could be hilarious. And Allison Mack (Chloe)…. Any of those guys, we’d be lucky to have them.
What I like is that my peers will send me an email – “Dude, I could play a rival pastor!” People want to be on the show and that really excites me. It means we’re doing something right. But you know what the best thing is? I used to think, “You want everybody to watch a show,” but now success for me — and I’m not giving you a fake sermon here! — is working and being happy with what you’re doing. If you can wake up every morning and enjoy work. I’m 43 years old now, so I’m very appreciative in my older age!
I have added a ton of images to the gallery today, episode three of Impastor screencaps, an appearance for AOL BUILD for Impastor Michael did, a radio programme Michael did with Sara Rue for Impastor at Comic Con and also pictires from last nights premiere of I am Chris Farley. To see the images just click the pictures below…
I have uploaded screencaps from episode one of Impastor to the gallery after a few technical problems (thank you hosting people) Anyway to see the goods just click the picture below:
“Back in the Day” is a raunchy comedy about a guy trying to get out of a rut by reliving his glory days at his high school reunion. The story is loosely based on Rosenbaum’s friends in Newburgh, Ind., where he grew up. “Back in the Day” was filmed in Newburgh and Evansville, Ind., and includes locations at his former high school and hangouts.
Rosenbaum came to WKU on a scholarship and graduated in 1995. He has steadily built a résumé as an actor, including his critically acclaimed role as Lex Luther on “Smallville.”
He continues to return to WKU to inspire others.
Included in the cast of “Back in the Day,” playing the younger version of one of his buddies is Jonathan Stone. Stone, who grew up in Clarksville, Tenn., moved to Bowling Green as a teen and graduated from Greenwood High School.
He attended WKU on the same scholarship Rosenbaum was awarded and met Rosenbaum on one of his visits. Stone is continuing his studies at WKU, where he was recently nominated as best actor for his role in “Double” at WKU’s Film Fest. He is active in local theater.
— For more information on the movie, visit www.facebook.com/backinthedaymovie.
A high powered set of Sacramento filmmakers and television producers gathered at Sacramento’s Wizard World Comic Con Saturday to help attendees learn about the variety of opportunities for production available in our region.
Emmy Award winning cinematographer and show developer Doug Stanley (Deadliest Catch) touted plans for advancement in distribution that will help connect fans of TV shows who use Facebook. The Ridgeline Entertainment Executive producer from Auburn loves to bring his other reality TV shows into Northern California whenever he can.
Access Sacramento Executive Director Gary Martin told about the “Place Called Sacramento” script writing competition for 10-minute scripts featuring this region, encouraging writers to tell the stories they love and reminding them Access Sacramento has classes and the free use of equipment for those who get certified.
Sacramento’s Ryan Todd, producer and developer of one of YouTube’s most highly subscribed video series SMOSH, said working on a budget is still “working” and he encouraged those in the room to get their start without delay.
Producer Matthew Donaldson, masquerading as the Stay Puff Marshmallow man from Ghost Busters, talked about his new film “To Find a Monster” that’s in development with likely release later this year. He said the story is critical and his new film tells how two young friends find the meaning of friendship while facing their monsters, armed only with a camcorder.
In a surprise appearance, TV star and director Michael Rosenbaum, (Lex Luther on Smallville) joined the panel, commenting on how Sacramento’s reputation for film and television production is growing, and encouraging beginning film makers in the room to never give up on their dreams for working in the industry.
The panel was moderated by Sacramento Playwright (The Interviews) and “Place Called Sacramento” (Lottery Ticket) writer/actor Brian Jagger, who said he was delighted by the standing room only crowd. He wanted to make sure the Comic Con audience knew Sacramento is the home for lots of film and television production, and that Hollywood isn’t the only place with great stories to tell.
Having played a young Lex in 154 episodes of the ‘Superman’ prequel series, Rosenbaum is to date the most prolific live action actor in the role of Superman’s industrialist nemesis; John Shea, who took the role in ‘Lois and Clark’ AKA ‘The New Adventures of Superman,’ shot only 25 episodes.
Nor does Rosenbaum’s association with the DC universe end there, as he also voiced The Flash in 54 episodes of the ‘Justice League’ animated series.
Whilst discussing his feature directorial debut ‘Back in the Day’ with Cinekatz, the subject of Luthor and DC inevitably came up, and Rosenbaum clearly counts himself lucky to be part of that realm, having been the subject of fan campaigns to reprise the role in ‘Batman vs. Superman’ (as we’ll keep informally referring to the film until Warner Bros tell us different).
“I think the most loyal fans are the DC fans… It was amazing to see all of the fans reaching out on Twitter and all of the kind words to get me to be Lex Luthor again. I didn’t do anything, I just sat back and thought it was really sweet. I’m very lucky.”
Asked on his feelings about the divisive casting of Eiesenberg, and whether he had any advice for the new Lex, Rosenbaum’s response was similarly humble.
“First off, I think he’s a really good actor. I don’t think he needs any advice from me, he’ll do his homework. Do it your way. I’m sure Zack [Snyder] has an idea. He cast you for reason.
“Jesse’s a good actor. He’ll do it his own way and that’s the best way. If you can do it your way, if you succeed or fail, you succeed because you are being original. If you’re trying to emulate someone, you’ll always be compared.
“That’s why I didn’t want to be compared during ‘Smallville.’ I didn’t watch any of Gene Hackman as Lex. He’ll be fantastic. Great actor, no problem with it.”
Interestingly, though Rosenbaum remains most popularly associated with Luthor, that isn’t the DC role the actor feels the greatest personal affinity with.
“I would lean toward The Flash kind of guy. The guy who wants to take light of the situation, when everyone is so upset and the world is dying he’s like, “Hey everything’s going to be alright! Let’s go bowling!”… I have some evil in me but I’d be positive for the most part.”
Asked whether he’d been keen to play any other DC character, Rosenbaum clearly doesn’t aim low, replying, “I think I’d be a fantastic Joker. I think I could crush The Joker.”