Back Stage: How did your role in "Oliver Parker!" come about?
John Larroquette: I'd opened myself up to the possibility of working here in New York, which I really hadn't done before other than "Saturday Night Live" and talk shows. Once "Boston Legal" ended, I thought maybe I should give it a try. I had some meetings, and two months ago, this play came across my desk. I read it and fell in love with it and met with the writer. It was extremely well-written, a real dark comedy, which is right up my alley. I gave it to some people to read—particularly Elizabeth, my wife, who has a really good eye and ear. And she thought it was great, as well.
Back Stage: And you're performing it at the Cherry Lane Theatre, which I understand is special to you?
Larroquette: Yes. I'm a Samuel Beckett freak; he's my favorite writer. So knowing "Endgame" premiered there and being able to see its pictures on the walls feels good.
Back Stage: I understand your character has a drinking problem—
Larroquette: He doesn't have a problem drinking; he can drink really well! It's always interesting to play people with scars and damaged souls who are trying to find some redemption. And this character certainly has that.
Back Stage: You've created several indelible roles on television. Are you open to the possibility of returning to TV full time?
Larroquette: Yes, in fact, I just found out today that a pilot I did for Fox wasn't picked up for series. It was based on a Scott Turow novel, "Pleading Guilty," and was with Jason Isaacs and a really great script. But pilots are like roulette: You pick one, and if you like it, you do it, and then you try to forget it until somebody calls you. I heard this morning they're not going to pick it up, so I'm on to the next thing.
Back Stage: After winning four Emmys for "Night Court," you took yourself out of the running. What led to that decision?
Larroquette: It was more about the character being so indelible that I knew I would be typecast for a while. It was reaching toward the end of the run, and I sort of wanted the character to recede from the public eye. I thought the best way to do that was to just do the work and not compete in the Emmys anymore.
Back Stage: Except then you got attention for not competing.
Larroquette: [Laughs.] That's true. And I said something to the effect of I wanted to give somebody else a chance to win, as though I had the assumption I would win. Which isn't what I meant at all.
Back Stage: Did you struggle with typecasting when the show ended?
Larroquette: I would say so. Just look at my résumé and see how many lawyers I've played. It was a while before I was offered a run-of-the-mill character, just a dad. It was always quirky and weird roles, which is fine. I guess I'm quirky and weird, period. But I took a couple years off, and then I did "The John Larroquette Show," which was a completely different character. And I loved doing it.
Back Stage: Any ideas as to why you're so frequently cast as lawyers?
Larroquette: I don't know, it probably has to do with my voice. My visage has some degree of authority attached to it. Maybe people know I've done it and can do it again. And I look good in a suit.
Back Stage: Do you still have to audition for roles?
Larroquette: I actually auditioned for the Broadway production of "Enron." At first I was reluctant because they wanted me to read for Ken Lay and I'm 6-[foot]-5. But I loved the team, and it was such a huge success in the West End, so I read for it. And didn't get it. Sometimes I'm an actor, just like anyone else.
Back Stage: Did they offer you a chance to participate in the "Night Court" reunion show they did last year on "30 Rock"?
Larroquette: They did not. From what I hear, when the idea came up, it was automatically dismissed, like, "Larroquette won't do this, so don't even call him." I was doing "Boston Legal" at the time, so it would have been difficult. And looking at the story they built, if my character was there, it would have been a whole different thing. Tracy was trying to get Harry and Christine together, and to throw Dan Fielding in would have been a whole different thing and taken away from the real arc they wanted to create.
Back Stage: Also, they make a joke about how you won't return anyone's calls.
Larroquette: Right. Which is not true, by the way. And believe me, if I'd been asked to be on a set with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, I'd have been happy to do it. But I understood their thinking completely.
Back Stage: Was there ever a time you thought about doing something other than acting?
Larroquette: There was never a time I thought about leaving. I took about six years out to do some serious drinking. But once I decided that's what I wanted to do, I realized there was nothing else I was really capable of doing. I had to act.
"Oliver Parker!" runs through June 6 at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St., New York. For more information, go to www.thestagefarm.org/shows.htm.