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Exclusive Interview with Legends of Tomorrow’s Adam Tsekhman

You might not recognize his name, but Adam Tsekhman has been in the acting game for a while with roles on Six, iZombie, and Transparent. Now you can see him as Gary Green on Legends of Tomorrow. I got the chance to talk with Adam about how he got into acting originally, how he got the job on Legends of Tomorrow, some of the projects he’s developing, his love of movies and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!

I want to start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally? 

Sure. I did a little bit [of acting] in high school, but the big turning point for me was in university. I was studying finance in Philadelphia at [the] University of Pennsylvania. While I was there, I’d go to these extracurricular theater companies that were on campus and every time I would see a show, I’d be like, “Oh my God, that looks amazing. I wish I could do that.” A friend of mine was part of this theater company and she suggested I audition. And so I did that.

But the weird thing about her theater company, or the unique thing, is that it was on campus specifically for Orthodox Jews, meaning that they didn’t perform or rehearse on the Sabbath. There was never a show on Friday night… or Saturday matinees. Anyway, I auditioned for them and I’m not Orthodox, but they brought everyone in a room together and they said, “Look, we love all of you guys. But the problem is, in this particular production, the lead male and female have to kiss. Who’s willing to kiss a member of the opposite sex?” And I was the only guy who raised my hand and they’re like, “Great. You’re the lead” [laughs].

That’s so funny. I wouldn’t imagine them doing a production if it required that because that’s not how they roll. That’s interesting. 

Totally. I know, it seems kind of ridiculous now. But the rest of the show… it was a Neil Simon play called Fools and it was based on this old Jewish story about a town of idiots.

Well then, was there a specific person or would you credit that experience with helping you decide acting is what you wanted to do for a living? 

That was kind of a pivotal experience, but still, I was on the path to finance. I graduated, I had a job offer to do investment banking, ironically with the Lehman Brothers who now don’t exist, maybe because they are making decisions like trying to hire me [laughs]. But yeah, I don’t know. I guess I was just like, “I can’t do it. I can’t go down that path. I have to pursue this thing that I realized I’m in love with.” Because it’s kind of a crazy feeling, at least in my experience, being on stage; if I would feel nauseated or have a headache or just in any way feel like shit and then get onstage, suddenly it’s gone. Everything is gone. It was like this incredible natural, euphoric, healing elixir of sorts.

That’s awesome. You’ve had a lot of different types of roles on a lot of different mediums. Do you have a personal acting bucket list of things you still want to accomplish in your career? If so, what are some of the things on it?

Oh, that’s a great question. I would love to do more multi-cam sitcoms. That’s kind of one of the dreams for me. I’ve done it very little on How I Met Your Mother, but I think the sort of melding of theater and television is amazing and the energy of a live studio audience is so cool. It’s fantastic. Other than that, of course, there have been a few projects that I was hoping to do that haven’t happened. And you know, I’ve been fortunate enough to work in Russia and Israel, different places so I think shooting and traveling in exotic locales is incredible. 

What is the coolest place you’ve ever been for a shoot? 

For sure Moscow, temperature wise [laughs]. And experience wise too. I’ve shot two different things there and it’s been an amazing experience. The other thing is I shot a Holocaust drama film in Israel entirely in Yiddish, which I don’t speak and I had to learn for it. But the amazing thing about that was I had a Yiddish teacher in LA and then my grandmother, who’s fluent, it’s like her mother tongue, had the entire script. Every day we were on the phone together for an hour, hour and a half, going over the script. It was amazing. That was an incredible experience. 

That is incredible. Let’s talk a little bit about Legends of Tomorrow. What was your audition process like? 

The fortunate aspect of my education in theater was that I got to meet a friend of mine, who is a brilliant writer on Legends, who without her I never would have gotten the role. So my friend Grainne Godfree, who’s incredible, she contacted me last summer and she’s like, “Adam, we’re working on this character, Gary. I just think you’d be great in this. I’m contacting our casting director to contact your agent for you to put yourself on tape.” And I was like, “Wow, thank you so much for even opening the door.” Then I put myself on tape, and thankfully the powers that be… the tape resonated with them and they hired me. At that time it was only like, “You know, right now this is a three-episode arc. We don’t really know if it’s going to be anything more than that, but we’ll see.”

How long was it from putting yourself on tape till you were on set filming? Was it a long process or was it a pretty quick turnaround? 

No, it was pretty quick. I feel like I put myself on tape probably like in the mid-twenties, June 25-ish, something like that. And I think I was on set probably a week and a half later. 

Wow. That’s pretty fast. 

Yeah, very fast. In TV typically these roles, not if it’s a series regular that’s kind of different, but something like this is typically that fast. 

Obviously, you said your friend was in the writers’ room, but were you a fan or at least familiar with the entire Arrowverse before you joined or did you have no idea what you were getting into?

A little bit familiar, but yeah, I wasn’t that familiar with the Arrowverse. I just knew the size and scope of it was sort of overwhelming. It’s like, how do you approach something that has these four shows and all these seasons? [It’s] a little overwhelming. I sort of knew the tone was tongue-in-cheek, comedic, but I didn’t even realize that so much until I was deep in it and realizing “Wow, this show is hilarious.” 

Did you go back and watch any of it before you joined? Or was it so fast you didn’t even have time to figure out what the story was prior to coming in? 

No, I watched a little bit of it. But yeah, I also didn’t have that much time. It was kind of, “Oh my God, I got to get to Vancouver. Where am I going to stay?”

At the end of season three, the Legends defeated Mallus and wiped the final anachronism from time. Where do we find ourselves at the beginning of season four? 

Getting rid of Mallus didn’t solve anything. Typical of the Legends, trying to make things better, but they always make things worse. That’s why you need The Time Bureau to truly clean things up. But they released a whole bunch of other shit with Mallus because once there’s a big prison break, everybody gets out. So the benefit of them bringing along Constantine is now we have all of these mystical creatures that are also partnered. There’s a lot of really fun, wacky shit to come. 

Specifically for Gary, what’s up for him at the beginning of season four? 

Gary is sort of trying to hang on to Constantine [laughs]. He’s very enamored with Constantine. Constantine is one of the coolest dudes he’s ever known that’s given him the time of day. Gary’s kind of the guy who was bullied all his life. When you got this super cool bloke who’s hanging out with [you]… Gary’s downright giddy about that. But as we know from Constantine, he is kind of a hard person to pin down. I think Gary’s searching for love and also trying to help out in The Time Bureau in any way he can. Of course, he doesn’t have a lot of skills other than intelligence. He can’t really beat anyone up.

Yeah, that’s true.

Bryna, his intelligence is top notch. Top notch [laughs].

Do you think Gary is more similar or different than you are and why do you think so?

I think very similar. I think from the perspective of positivity and friendliness and openness, I am very similar to Gary in that sense. I’m maybe not as giddy as Gary is all the time, but pretty close though. [I also have] a natural fear of things that are obviously dangerous. My friends make fun of me, that I’m like, “I don’t know if we should do that. That’s kind of crazy. I prefer to be on the sidelines. I’ll watch you guys.” I don’t really like roller coasters [laughs]. I did bungee jump this past year, but it was total peer pressure and I was terrified, Bryna. Terrified. 

Oh my gosh. I would’ve been scared shitless. I never could have done that. 

Trust me. I was totally on your page. And after doing it, it was pretty amazing, but I’m also not… you know how sometimes people are like, “Oh my God, I would totally do it again?” I’m not quite there, but happy that I conquered the fear. 

I know you’re also developing a number of comedy projects. What made you want to start exploring a different side of television by writing? Was that always a passion of yours? 

No, it was my writing partner. I knew him because I went to business school with his wife, and sort of met him after they met. I realized that in this industry you need to be sort of pursuing various avenues. So creating became something where… look, if you want to be in something, make something. We had a great rapport, the two of us; we work well together and it sort of came from that because it’s so hard. Writing is ridiculously hard. It’s insane.

Talk a little bit about Americanistan, one of the projects you’re working on. 

Americanistan is about a billionaire from Texas, a wealthy industrialist who decides to start an American news network in a fictional middle eastern country. We sort of looked at the Middle East, which is, you know, mired in conflict and just [has] sad, terrible stories, one after the other. But we kind of thought, “Okay, look, there’s a lot of hilarity in the Middle East [too], a lot of great culture clash that can happen when you have very open-minded, aggressive westerners coming into a country that has very strict rules. Let’s see the comedy. Let’s try to make misogyny, dictatorship, and terrorism funny.” 

So it’s still in development? It’s not filming or anything yet? 

We shot a pilot ourselves. We raised money ourselves and shot it, but kind of as a proof of concept. The actors were fantastic that we cast. And one of the actors who was in it originally, and who is going to do it again, is going to be a big star next year because he is playing Aladdin in the new Disney’s Aladdin. So we’re developing it with him involved. Right now, I have to be working on it today. I have to put together a five-season arc, which is kind of insane. That’s sort of the networks want[ing] to know that the writers have a plan for where the show’s going to go. 

Is that pretty common, that networks want ideas for five seasons so they can see the longevity of a project? 

I think it’s not something where it’s necessarily set in stone, but they’re hoping these writers have thought about this and these are good ideas that work. It’s crazy. We wrote the pilot maybe three or four years ago now. And then, when I read some of the stuff in it I’m like, “Wow, this has not aged at all. All these issues that we have discussed in this pilot are fully still happening. Nothing has changed.” I guess that’s the benefit of the Middle East being so fucked up, but also that’s a big drawback obviously. 

Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something you nerd out about? 

Oooh. I guess I nerd out on geopolitics. I subscribe to The Economist. I’m very concerned with world affairs. I feel like I nerd out on that. And fantasy football. I would say those are my two…. and movies. I go to lots of movies. Big movie nerd. Basically, I’ll go to a movie pretty much between like five to six times a week.

What?!?!

I’m going to a movie pretty much every night. And sometimes it’s annoying because I’m like, “Oh shit. There’s nothing to see.” 

That’s crazy.

It is crazy. I saw The Wife two nights ago. Loved it. Check it out. Glen Close, Jonathan Pryce. Wow. 

I bet MoviePass was calling your name. 

Okay. First of all, yeah, we can talk about MoviePass. I have been a member of MoviePass for two or three years. I was paying… first, it was 35 bucks a month. Then it went up and I was paying $50 a month. I was selling it to everybody. I was like, “Guys, you’ve got to get MoviePass” and they’re like, “50 bucks a month?!” and I’m like, “I know, but if you go to more than three movies a month…” because in LA movies cost 15 bucks each time. Now I understand that it’s not the case around the US; the average ticket price is $8. I wish it was that in LA. And then MoviePass went down to $10 and I was like, “There’s just no way they’re going to survive. How?” Now everyone is complaining about them, but I’m still a fan. Look, even at one movie a month, it’s still worth it. Now I think the move is to do the AMC A-List and MoviePass in combination. 

You can visit Adam’s website or follow him on Twitter or Instagram. Season 4 of Legends of Tomorrow premieres Monday, October 22 at 9/8c.

Photo Credit: Charles Zuckermann

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Written by Bryna Kramer

I could have followed in my father's footsteps and become a doctor. But there was just too much good television on.

Contact: [email protected]

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