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Q&A with 'Newsroom' actor and Orioles fan Thomas Sadoski

Q&A with 'Newsroom' actor and Orioles fan Thomas Sadoski
(Photo by Bennett Raglin, Getty Images)

Baltimore isn't really in the business of having a bunch of celebrity fans for its sports teams — sometimes, the city's regulars fans are a more-than-acceptable representation. But if we need another celebrity to carry the banner on a national stage alongside favorite son Josh Charles, actor Thomas Sadoski is more than willing to take on the role.

Sadoski is best known for his role as producer Don Kiefer on HBO's "The Newsroom," but that role has translated into film success with the independent film "Take Care," co-starring Leslie Bibb and written by Liz Tuccillo, a writer from "Sex and the City" and co-author of "He's Just Not That Into You." In the the charming "Take Care," Bibb's character, Frannie, needs a caregiver in her New York apartment after she's hit by a car, and Sadoski is reluctantly roped into that role.

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Sadoski also has a part in "Wild," a Reese Witherspoon star-turn that's getting Oscar buzz and comes out this week. Another future project, "I Smile Back," starring Sarah Silverman and Charles, was accepted as part of the first wave for next year's Sundance Film Festival.

So even with "The Newsroom" coming to an end and the Orioles hemorrhaging talent as the rest of the division improves, it's a good time for Sadoski, who spent a few minutes to talk about "Take Care," how a Texas boy becomes an Orioles fan, and wrapping up "The Newsroom."

Jon Meoli: I watched the movie last night and have been looking at what else you've been up to. It seems like something of a big year for you with "The Newsroom" ending, this movie, and then "Wild" as well. What's it been like having everything bunch up at the same time like this?

Thomas Sadoski: It's a little bit crazy, to be honest with you, man. It's weird because I finished all of this stuff a long time ago, so to have it all come flying out at the same time, it's a little bit much. At any given moment, I'm trying to get my feet underneath me and just sort of remember where I am and what I did, when we made these things. But it's great. I'm having a great time and I feel very, very lucky to have all of this stuff happening right now. I'm really proud of everything that I'm involved in, so it's a very good feeling man. It's going to be a very good holiday.

JM: What drew you to this movie? It seems like it's a smaller movie, but it's a big role, even if it's not a high-budget thing.

TS: I knew Liz [Tuccillo's] work, Liz who wrote and directed it, I knew her work from "Sex and the City", and I certainly knew her from her book, "He's Just Not That Into You." And I'm a fan of Leslie's work. I think that she's really talented and really charming, and it was a story I wanted to tell. It's something I wanted to do because it seemed like it was going to be a lot of fun, and I was right. We had a blast. You don't make independent films like this because you're hoping to get paid for them. You do it because you want to have a good time with some people you're going to get along with, and that's exactly how this worked out. We're incredibly proud of the way it turned out.

I think that it's sort of hard to overstate that this was in some ways, really the little movie that could. We made this movie for nothing. It was made on a total shoestring, and to have it be accepted into South by Southwest, and not only accepted into South by Southwest but do as well as it did there, to get bought, to get a release, this is all pretty big underdog stuff and I'm really proud of the movie and I'm really proud to be a part of it. We had a great time making it.

JM: Nice transition there with the underdog stuff. Let's get into why we're really talking. I'm wondering how somebody born in Connecticut, who grew up in Texas, how does one end up being an Orioles fan in that crazy life?

TS: It's a little bit crazy, because my family is split almost right down the middle in terms of Red Sox fans and Yankees fans. I just was not going to get into the middle of that. Growing up in Texas, I had no interest in being an Astros fan and I had even less interest being a Rangers fan. But I fell in love with baseball, because I used to watch WGN, I'd watch Harry Carey and Steve Stone call Cubs games.

So I fell in love with baseball, and in 1994, when the strike came and everything sort of went to hell, the year after I sort of felt like Cal Ripken saved baseball. It was watching Cal do his thing that year — I had family in Dundalk that I didn't know particularly well, but when I was a little kid, they had given me this Orioles banner that I had up on my wall. So I always sort of, in as much as I wasn't following the games or seeing them live, I always had this big O's banner on my wall. While I was watching Cal do his thing in Camden, that season the hook got set for me.

Then in 1999, I meet this amazing woman who will eventually become my wife and she's from Baltimore. I went down to visit her and spend some time with her family, I get taken to an Orioles game by her stepfather, who is, when you talk about Orioles fans, this guy is the Orioles fan. He's borderline Wild Bill. I went to Camden, man, and that was it. It's impossible not to fall in love with that ballpark. At the time, it was not an easy team to root for for the last however many, 10, 15 years I've been a fan. It's not an easy fandom to be a part of, but what I appreciate was how smart the fans were, how passionate the fans were, the ones that kept showing up. I love the ballpark, I love the team, I love the history, and that was it for me. The hook was just set and I'm a very happy, very proud O's and Ravens fan.

JM: How did that carry into football? Was that just being a good husband?

TS: My father-in-law took me to M&T Bank Stadium for a Ravens game very shortly after he'd taken me to see an Orioles game, but it was the same thing. I thought, "This is what it's all about." I grew up in Texas, so I had an appreciation for football. I love the game, but I'd grown up, weirdly a Redskins fan, so I really feel like all my fandom was ready to go for the Baltimore-D.C. area anyway. Over time, I'd sort of grown apart from the Redskins after [John] Riggins, Art Monk, Doug Williams, Jay Schroeder, all of those guys. After those guys peeled off and retired, I didn't really keep up with the 'Skins anymore.

When I went to that game, it was called PSINet Stadium back then ... but that was it for me.

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JM: You got a lot of attention during the playoffs for making [The Newsroom co-star and Detroit Tigers fan] Jeff Daniels wear an Orioles hat. Were you shooting at the time to get to enjoy that in person, and how did it come about?

TS: For three years, Jeff and I were at each other's throats about it when the O's and the Tigers would play. Any time they would play, we would give it to each other pretty good. He's a great fan and he's a pretty good trash talker. This year, it came down to it. We weren't on set, but we're friends off set and when it came time for the series to start, when it looked like it was finally going to happen, we got on the phone with each other and said "What's the bet? What's it going to be?" That was the one that played out in a way that felt like it was going to be easiest for either one of us to accomplish. But you know what? He's a man of his word and I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him for sucking it up, for going and getting the hat. I know that he took some heat in Detroit for that, but I was really happy that we pulled that series out. I think he looks good in an Orioles hat. I told him, "If you ever change your mind, I think the city of Baltimore would love to have you."

JM: It's hard to tell when you're watching people act how much is their personality and how much is written in the character, but it seems like there's a lot of you in Don. What's it like playing a character that transformed from a heel to the most likeable character very quickly? Is it weird when there's a lot of you in that and people don't really like him at first?

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TS: It's a little bit tricky, because you want to bring as much of yourself to whatever it is you're playing, if you can, so it has some ring of honesty or integrity to it. I never really thought that Don was a bad guy. People responded poorly to him right out of the gate, but it's not my job to judge him. I just play him. It was a little bit weird, at first, when you invest a lot of yourself into something and when you really put yourself out there and people respond poorly, say "Oh this guy's such a [jerk]." At first, it's hard not to take it a little personally, but that goes away pretty quick. At the end of the day, you just realize I'm affecting people. People are responding to it, so I'm doing my job. And to see the way people have turned around on the character has been really cool to. I've always seen the character the way a lot of people are seeing it now. I've been sort of waiting for people to catch up in some ways, and I'm happy that they have.

JM: I'd say they have. And lastly, please tell me that it's going to end [minor spoiler alert] on a better note than the wedding Sunday.

TS: I hope that people will find that it ends on a better note than that. What can I say without giving it away? It's a tricky end of the season, it's a tricky end of the series, but I think it ends the only way that it can. We're not quite completely off the rails, but we get close.

Take Care is in select theaters Friday, and is also available On Demand.

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