Category Archives: WWdN in Exile

Answering a FAQ: “Why do you play so many evil characters lately?”

Every actor has a particular type they can play well, for some reason or another. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with who we are in real life, but it's just what we do well.

Example: Travolta is amazing as the Lovable Loser. When he's in Welcome Back Kotter and Saturday Night Fever in the 70s, he is the biggest star in the world, because people can identify with him in a way they may not be consciously aware of.

Then, in the early 80s, the industry decides to make him The Leading Man. They put him in films like Perfect and Urban Cowboy, and his career tanks. Nobody can connect to those characters, because it's not the right type for him to play. He does those talking baby movies for awhile, and then he explodes back to the top of the A list when he plays a junkie hitman in Pulp Fiction. He's back to being the Lovable Loser, and audiences go crazy for him, because that's the type he's meant to play.

You can do this with just about every actor if you look hard enough and spend enough time on it. It's all about Jungian Archetypes and Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces.

So why do I play evil characters? When I was a kid, I played the sensitive, awkward kid full of self doubt who really wanted you to like him*. When I was in my 20s, I kept getting auditions for those roles and never booking them, because it's just not the type I'm meant to play. When Kim Evey cast me as a douchey agent in Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show, and Felicia wrote me into The Guild as douchey Fawkes, things started to turn around. I realized that I'd found my type, and I started looking for those roles.

It turns out that my type is the Villain You Love To Hate, so that's who I am in The Guild, Leverage, Eureka, and Big Bang Theory. I don't think it's a coincidence that, once I started playing these types of characters, my acting career began to come back to life, and I will be grateful for the rest of my life to Kim and Felicia for taking a chance on me.

I really don't know why this is my type, but whenever I try to figure it out, I start to feel like Lenny with the rabbit, and I really don't want to break something that's working out pretty well for me right now.

I do know this, though: the whole point of being an actor is to portray characters who are different from who you really are. The most important thing in the entire universe to me is kindness, so it's really fun to play characters who are antithetical to my personal ideals. Exactly why I seem to be so good at doing that, though? I'm not going behind that particular barn.


*Incidentally, that's pretty much who I've been in my real life since I can remember.

A few pictures from GenCon

Today and tomorrow, I'm narrating the audio version of Zach Weinersmith's The Trial of the Clone. I'm up nice and early because I'm apparently on the same schedule as my puppy.

In place of a proper post about GenCon (which was exhausting but lots of fun), here are a few pictures of awesome things I saw while I was there, starting with epic cosplay:

Walter, Donny (RIP) and The Dude.

Walter, Donny (RIP) and The Dude.


The most terrifying and perfect Corinthian cosplay I've ever seen. She made the eye pieces out of soft leather and affixed them with spirit gum. Amazing.

Dalek and River Song

Adorable Dalek and River Song

My favourite part of signing is meeting people who love the same things I love, and geeking out about those things. It's genuinely wonderful to talk with hundreds of people who are from The Tribe, you know? Signing for hours and hours at a time can get tiring, though, and one of the ways I restore HP and Mana during the day is by amusing myself when it's appropriate. Here are a few examples of me doing that at GenCon:

Edition Wars

This is from a game called Edition Wars. GMs are trying to get players to play their system, and you can make your own GM. So I made myself.

Sheldon Cooper

I sign a LOT of Big Bang Theory things, and whenever I get a chance to sign a picture of Jim as Sheldon, I write something like this on it. It amuses me almost as much as it tends to amuse the person I'm signing it for.

A ranking of Moustaches

Just, you know, ranking Moustaches on a scale of Hitler to Brimley. Like you do. And, yes, I realize I spelled Chaplin wrong.

Munchkin Cards

I'm also asked to make Munchkin cards from time to time. These are two of the ones I did this year. Steve Jackson even made them tournament-legal for the duration of GenCon!

People make me amazing things, and give me wonderful gifts at cons. Here are a few of the things I got to bring home:

8-bit Wheaton dice bag

This is a handmade, hand embroidered dice bag with 8-bit me on it!

Lego Sparks McGee

This Lego Sparks McGee is best in life.

Tabletop Fan Art

Tabletop fan art!!

I was so busy signing, I only got to play two games: Fiasco with my friends, using a playset they wrote me for my birthday, and True Dungeon with many of the same friends, where we sent the Draco Lich (Formerly known as the dragon Smoak, who I kind of one-shotted in 2010) to the void. You're welcome, people-who-no-longer-live-in-fear-of-the-Draco-Lich.

I can't even count the number of people who told me wonderful, personal stories about how Tabletop has touched their lives. When I have some more time, I'll share a few of them.

Please meet the newest member of Team Wheaton

adorable puppy
We were introduced last week at the Pasadena Humane Society, when Anne and I were there for a tour of the new facility WWdN readers helped raise the funds to build.

We were standing in the lobby, talking about how much we love Seamus, when a worker walked in with this puppy. She had the exact same dopey happiness and demeanor as Seamus, and as you can see, very similar markings.

Just like when we met Seamus, we weren't looking to add a dog to our pack, but Riley is almost 11 and doesn't want to play with Seamus as much as he needs to play, and after a few minutes with this pooch, we couldn't stop thinking about her.

A couple of days later, we made the decision to get on the waiting list and see if we could adopt her. Today, we took both of our dogs to the Humane Society to meet her, and the whole pack came together perfectly.

Riley made it clear that she doesn't want to play, but snuggling is fine. Seamus made it clear that he's a big old dope who just loves to play as much as a 4 month-old puppy.

New Dog (she has a name but we're keeping it secret until she comes to live with us next week) took correction from Riley and respected her limits immediately, and played with Seamus until they were both wiped out.

We love her. She's a little underweight, but the vet at the Humane Society checked her out and said she's otherwise healthy, so she'll be spayed in a couple of days, and come home to her new house and her forever family on Sunday.


In which my wife is entertained by our pets, and I am amused.

Anne had minor ankle surgery last week, so she's been at home since Friday, recovering.

Our pets are all incredibly excited that she's been a captive audience for them; both cats and both dogs have happily spent entire days on our bed with her.

Yesterday, our cat Watson got himself all worked up, and spent close to a half hour running around the house, chasing ping pong balls and his tail with equal enthusiasm, and generally cracking both of us up. Just before he exhausted himself, he jumped up onto our bed:


Watson attacking a cast.

Of course, she put googly eyes on her cast before we even left the hospital.


She told me that she was laughing so hard, it was shaking her foot. I guess Watson wasn't too happy about that:


Watson is not pleased

Watson is not pleased.


Watson went to sleep soon after these pictures were taken.

Later in the evening, while I was sitting in my office (in the front of the house), I heard Seamus barking. It wasn't his "HEY HEY HEY THERE'S A THING OUT THERE!" bark, or his "I SEE YOU DOG! I SEE YOU THERE! **** YOU, DOG!" bark. It was his "OMG I LOVE TO TALK TO YOU HUMAN" bark.

I didn't think anything of it, until I saw this video Anne put on the YouTubes a few minutes later:


I was worried that she'd have to be home alone while I was at GenCon, so we arranged to have a couple of friends come and trade off staying with her for the rest of the week… but now I'm pretty sure she'll be just fine while I'm gone, and she'll probably end up having a cast party (HA HA HA) with our friends.

Summer memories never fade away

It’s been so hot the last couple of days, I haven’t gone outside for more than a few minutes until the sun’s gone down, and even then walking down the middle of the street still feels like a furnace. Trading the blazing heat of a parking lot for the cool, dry air conditioning of a store is blissful, and ice cream just tastes better.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the summers of my youth, the memories coming to me in very broad strokes and brief flashes.

In my earliest memories, I’m splashing around in a plastic pool on the lawn that’s both impossibly huge and not big enough. I’m three or four years old. It’s 1975, and my parents frequently take me to the 31 flavors next door for ice cream. The pull me in my red wagon. I wear osh kosh overalls. I’m not sure if I actually remember this, or if my brain has created memories to go with the pictures I’ve seen.

In the summer of 1976, we move to Houston. My father attends Texas Heart Institute. I’m in a pre-school that I hardly remember, save for a refrigerator box that was converted to a fort, and the rubbery, sweet smell of finger paints. It rains a lot, and I love to sit at the window to watch the lightning flash across the sky. My little brother is born, and he’s too small for me to do anything with him. I want him to hurry up and get big so we can play together. Some fire ants take up residence in my sandbox, and my mother puts me in the deep kitchen sink, covering what feels like a hundred bites with baking soda. There’s a pool in our apartment complex, but I don’t remember ever going into it.

In 1978, we move back to California from Texas, and into the house I will grow up in. My brother is 2, I am 6, and my little sister is born a few weeks before we move in. Before we can spend our first night in the house, there’s a flood that fills our house with several feet of mud and debris. Over the years, I see the faded pictures and 8mm films of my parents and their friends cleaning it up, and it isn’t until I’m almost 20 that I ever pause wonder what it must have felt like to have two kids and a newborn while cleaning several feet of mud out of the house you’ve just bought.

Every summer in that house is magical in my memory. My brother, my sister, and I make slip-n-slides out of plastic tarps on the front lawn. We do jumps and perform bike shows on the street. We play hide and seek into and beyond the warm dusk of numerous Julys and Augusts. We get a pool in the early 80s, and spend all day in it, every day. We get ear infections. We build floating forts out of rafts. We make waves with the rafts and attempt to ride them with our Boogie Boards. We dive for pennies, rocks, toys, anything that will sink. We have massive amphibious battles with Star Wars and GI Joe figures. When it’s time to get out of the pool, we swim all the way to the deep end, then invent a reason we have to get out in the shallow end. Our parents know what we’re doing, and we know they know, but we somehow get away with it, every time.

On Saturday mornings, my brother and I watch cartoons and wrestling, then we go outside and play until the sun goes down, longer if we can. We sneak mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches from the huge top-loading freezer in the garage and never get caught.

We don’t have air conditioning in the house in Sunland, not really. We have a swamp cooler that works for about 8 cubic feet in the hallway. When it’s too hot to play, and we can’t swim for some reason, we sit in front of the television and watch Star Wars on VHS until we wear the tape out. We play Atari until the mid-80s, and then Nintendo. We build forts and have campouts in them.

The ice cream man is actually a lady. She sells strawberry shortcake bars and fun dip. She’s the nicest person in the world.

We go to our Great Aunt Val’s house in Northridge every weekend, and swim in her pool, which has a slide and a diving board. Our cousin Jack’s absentee father buys him a Nintendo arcade machine, and he swaps out different chips so we can play Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong Jr., and Popeye for free. We watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and fall asleep in front of the television. When she gets MTV, I spend all day watching it, hoping to see the video for Thriller. It never airs, but I see a lot of U2.

In 1987, we move to La Crescenta, into the house where my brother and sister will grow up, and I will come of age. I’m 14. Jeremy is 10, Amy is 8. It’s a better house in a better neighborhood. The schools are better, the neighbors sell 100% less drugs. But it’s on a hill, and there isn’t anywhere for us to ride bikes. There’s no swimming pool; a small above-ground spa will have to suffice. We adjust more quickly than we expect, and grow to love that house. My friend Ryan and I spend long hours sitting in that spa, listening to Van Halen on a portable cassette player, talking about the girls we don’t ever have the courage to talk to. In 1988 we get a pool, and it’s magnificent. It has a waterfall into and out of the spa, is dark on the bottom, and feels like a lagoon. We have massive pool parties almost daily for the next four summers. I kiss a couple of girls on some warm summer nights in the jacuzzi. I play boardgames at the dining room table, and computer games on my Macintosh in my bedroom. I get my first modem and my own phone line. Ryan and I try to hook it up while dripping wet from the pool, using a butter knife as a screwdriver. Somehow, we succeed with minimal shocks.

My brother and I play all the way through Legend of Zelda and Metroid on the NES in his bedroom, sometimes we stay up all night to finish the games. We're inseparable. Ryan and I play hours of Blades of Steel and Excitebike.

I become a teenager, and drift away from my younger siblings. I don’t feel sad about that until this exact instant, and I miss them.

I didn’t know why these things have been on my mind, or why I needed to write them down, until just now.