After recently directing Ron Morehouse in a play where his role was an early 1900s pretentious art critic, a gentle antagonist of sorts, I joked with Ron that he really missed his era; he would have been perfectly cast as a bad guy in “The Princess Bride.”
I mean that as a compliment (as if being in the cast of that movie could be otherwise!) because Ron is a perfect blend: He is an absolute delight to be around, but he also exudes a “je ne sais quois” that lets you know he views the world with an interesting edge.
Right now Ron is in New York, helping bring L.A.’s juggernaut “Streep Tease” to Joe’s Pub—tonight, in fact, if you happen to be in New York while you’re reading this! But before he flew cross country, Ron invited us inside his car. . .
Me: Maybe right now I’m just in desperate need of a pick-me-up, but the outside shot of your car makes me really happy. Your sweet car sitting there in the California sunshine, flowers blooming in the background. Where did you take that photo?
Ron: On the most beautiful street in all of L.A.! Finley between Hillhurst and Vermont in Los Feliz, where I live. I’ve probably lived in almost every neighborhood in Los Angeles since moving here and I have to say I’m so fortunate to settle in this neighborhood. It really reminds me of the East Village and has such an eclectic group of creative people. I’m right around the corner from the Alcove and down the street from the Dresden. I love it!
Me: That is a beautiful neighborhood. But like every place in L.A., it’s central to some things, but not to others. So, on average, how many hours do you spend in your car each week? What are the main culprits/purposes?
Ron: Oh—this is a good one! I can spend anywhere between 10 to 15 hours a week in my car. . . aka, my office!
Me: Exactly! That’s precisely why I do this vehicle series.
Ron: Mostly it’s driving to auditions, rehearsals, the gym. And the bank when I’m lucky. [Laughs] I really feel you have to love your car if you live in L.A. Usually I almost always have an audition in Santa Monica and going from home I can spend 30 minutes driving there and sometimes two to three hours on the way back in rush hour. You don’t want to catch me driving back from Santa Monica at 5PM with no food. It can get ugly!
Ron: It’s something you are very familiar with. It’s my script for the Car Plays. I had just come from rehearsal when I decided to start snapping pictures! I was so excited to be involved with them. It was a completely new experience for me because I’ve never done a play in a car, with two people right next to you. I’ve played to huge houses, but never two people. Kiff Scholl wrote a really brilliant little piece and I was honored to do it!
Ron: [Laughs] I try to. An actor I was doing a show with some time ago told me he never highlights his lines because he feels it separates him from the rest of the cast.
Me: Whoah! Really?
Ron: Yes. I tried that, but then thought it was horsesh*t! Because you’re really gonna feel separate when you can’t see your lines and don’t know what your doing. So I almost always highlight. . . unless I’m feeling lazy!
Me: The other very useful items in the cubby compartment: a pencil and pen, your iPod, your headset. . . and a penny. Have you ever gotten one of those actor-ubiquitous “one cent” residual checks?
Ron: Yes. I still get checks from episodes of “West Wing” and “Boston Public” that I did years ago. Sometimes if I’m lucky I’ll walk away with $2.33, but at this point it’s mainly 56 cents or a dollar. Hey, every cent counts! And it goes towards laundry.
Me: Resumes in the backseat! Which leads to one of the two questions I’m asking all actors of their vehicles: Do you always keep headshots/resumes with you in your car? How often are you using them these days?
Ron: Yes! I almost always have resumes and headshots in my car. I use to not, but then I’d be running out of my house, late, and panic half-way to the audition. I’d have to pull over at a Kinko’s, run in like a crazy person, and print one out from my e-mail.
Me: Ah, so you keep them in there to guard against being late and/or forgetful!
Ron: Yes. Two times you don’t want to see me: 1) When I haven’t eaten, and 2) When I’m running late for an audition. I look like a male version of Ellen Burystn from “Requiem for a Dream.” God, I probably shouldn’t be saying this! [Laughs]
Me: No, no! I appreciate the honesty! And at least it’s a male version of Ms. Burstyn, I mean, that’s something isn’t it? As for your trunk—First congrats on a very artful photograph! I really appreciate the composition, impressively from your cell phone.
Me: What’s the story with the towel and the flannel?
Ron: The flannel is actually my black button up from the show I’ve been doing for the last 18 months, I really take care of my costume. [Laughs] It was closing night and I threw it in my trunk. I really need to wash that soon! The towel is from the gym. I use it for my front seat once I’ve worked up a good sweat so I don’t ruin my cloth seats by getting them wet. It probably would be easier to shower at the gym and be dry by the time I step into my car, but I don’t shower in public. I believe some things should still be private. [Laughs]
Me: Well that dedication to your car’s cleanliness easily leads me into my last question for you. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you prep your car before taking these photographs for me?
Ron: You’re lucky. Normally my car is much more cluttered, but I just got this one a week ago.
Me: Oh! I didn’t realize you had a new car we were dealing with! That’s very exciting!
Ron: My lease was up so I decided to lease again. I believe for me it’s the best way to go. I don’t care what Susie Orman says. She doesn’t know my uncle works for GM!
Sara Israel is a writer and director living in Los Angeles.