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All the world's a stage for actor Anthony Heald

In sharp contrast to his role as Dr. Chilton in Silence of the Lambs or Scott Guber on Boston Public, the real Anthony Heald conveys a serene demeanor.

A dedicated family man, Heald recently returned to his home in Ashland after spending six years in Los Angeles. Comfortably ensconced in his Craftsman-style living room with a cup of coffee, I found a man of eclectic tastes.

DNW: How did you get your start in the business?

AH: I got my first professional job after my freshman year of college in the summer of '63. Then I was offered an equity job in the Asolo Theater in Sarasota, Fla., a repertory company, and I was offered one season. Then, as happens in this business, one job led to another, led to another.

DNW: Why did you choose the Rogue Valley as your home?

AH: We were living in Montclair, New Jersey - suburban New York. My kids were 3 and 7 years old. I was not spending any time with them or my wife and I spent three hours a day commuting. Working in commercial theater, with the matinees, I was away from home all weekend. We came out here on a vacation in '94. I fell in love with it and started exploring the idea of moving here.

I was prepared to accept a less satisfying professional life in return for a more satisfying personal life. To my surprise and delight, I found an infinitely better professional life [at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival].

DNW: What's your favorite part about living in Ashland?

AH: The ease of everything. In L.A., it took 20 minutes to get to the grocery store and you tried to arrange it so you would only make right turns. Here, it's five minutes to work, three minutes to the grocery store. And we have a wide circle of friends.

DNW: What's been your favorite project to date?

AH: During the OSF '99 season, I played Iago in Othello and John Rosmer in Ibsen's Rosmerscholm. One is a villain, the other a pure idealist. One's a man of action, the other is tied in knots and can't act. One's a man of no conscience at all, and Rosmer is so bound by his conscience he kills himself because he can't be as good as he wants to be. To play them both - sometimes in the same day - well, there is nothing like it. As an actor you feel complete.

DNW: You often play rather sinister roles. If you could choose any type of genre or character that you have yet to do, what would it be and why?

AH: One role I'd like to play is Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Often the most satisfying roles are the ones that I would never have dreamt of taking. I'm doing Tartuffe this year [at OSF]. It's unbelievably daunting. It's a tough, tough play and a tough part, so I'm thrilled to be doing it.

DNW: How do you balance a quality family life with the rigors of your profession?

AH: Before I became a father, I defined myself as an actor. After having kids, I define myself as a father who acts. In series television you never work weekends and usually only work three- and-a-half days a week. The good thing about repertory is you have"¦ some evenings free, and sometimes three days in a row off. The worst possible situation is commercial theater, where you're gone six nights a week and all weekend.

DNW: Can you share something about yourself that no one else knows?

AH: I'm an inveterate downloader of tunes and I do a lot of downloading from iTunes. I'm trying to stay current with popular music and I'm fascinated with the whole change in the delivery of media. We're at the beginning of a huge shift.

DNW: When you played the vice principal in Boston Public, he was a classical music enthusiast. What kind of music do you enjoy in your real life?

AH: I'm a huge chamber music fan. I'm now on a 20th century chamber music kick, listening to composers I've never heard before. I'm a jazz collector, especially '60s, especially saxophone.

DNW: What book is currently on your nightstand?

AH: I'm reading Ward Just's novel A Dangerous Friend. I just finished Nathaniel Philbrick's The Mayflower. I tend to alternate between good literature, history, Judaica and occasionally detective stories.

All the world's a stage for actor Anthony Heald