Character Actors: Daniel Roebuck

By SCOTT VOISIN
Autograph March 2010

As Dr. Arzt on Lost with Daniel Dae Kim.

“It all started in a cardboard television my parents bought me one Christmas,” says Daniel Roebuck, one of the busiest working actors in Hollywood. “I would stand in it and pretend to be on TV.” These days, it’s hard to change the channel on a real TV and not see Roebuck. With guest roles on hit dramas (CSI, Bones, NCIS), kids’ shows (Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place and Sonny with a Chance), and movies (Final Destination, We Were Soldiers, The Devil’s Rejects), Roebuck is the rare character actor who transcends genres and appeals to fans of all ages.

Shortly after getting his start as an extra on General Hospital, Roebuck garnered attention as the co-star in 1986’s River’s Edge, a dark drama that made most critics’ 10-best lists. “At the time, I had no idea how cool River’s Edge was,” he says. “Had I been more adept at things, I would have taken advantage of being in the movie—to kind of use it as a stepping-stone. I know that doesn’t make me sound like much of an artist, but I’ve recognized since then that it’s also a business, and certainly once you get a family and a mortgage and a lot of responsibility, you think about the business part of it.”

Daniel Roebuck signed post card.

Several years later, Roebuck was working as a regular on Matlock when he got the call to try out for a role in the Harrison Ford blockbuster, The Fugitive. It was an opportunity he almost walked away from. “I went to Warner Bros. for the audition,” he recalls. As soon as he was sent in to meet director Andy Davis, the secretary announced a call for Davis from Harrison Ford. “I waited and waited and waited… It was like 45 minutes while they talked on the phone. I came so close to getting up and leaving because I didn’t want to sit there anymore. When they told me later that I got the part, I don’t think it even hit me right away. I went back to shoot a few more episodes of Matlock for the end of that season, and I remember people saying, ‘Did I hear you’re gonna be in a Harrison Ford movie?’ I’d say, ‘Well, it’s not a big part,’ and they were like, ‘Are you crazy?!’”

Roebuck with Andy Griffith and Brynn Thayer in Matlock.

The success of The Fugitive sent Roebuck’s career into overdrive. Since then, he’s been in over 100 movies and TV shows, but the one character he’s most often associated with is that of Dr. Leslie Arzt on the hit sci-fi series, Lost. “Lost was a gift because I didn’t have to go beg for it,” he explains. “It’s always a blessing when the producers call and say, ‘Would you like to do this?’ It was a unique situation for the regular cast to deal with because when they had guest stars during that first season, they would appear within a character’s flashback…. Many times, shows with younger casts don’t understand the value of the guest stars and having someone with a different kind of experience working with them. Luckily that was not the case with Lost, and it was great working with everyone on the show.”

German lobby card for River’s Edge.

Although he works steadily in movies and television, Roebuck says he doesn’t have a preference for either medium. “I enjoy taking my friends and family to the theater, and my kids getting to see their dad in a movie is kind of neat,” he says. “But more people are going to see the last episode of Lost than will ever see The Fugitive. It’s  crazy how TV can grant you such extreme exposure. When it comes down to it, wherever the best part is, that’s where I’m happy to be.”

Roebuck’s autographs are plentiful online. His character is featured in the 2005 Inkworks Lost Trading Cards, and he’s a frequent guest at horror conventions. Check Celebrity Addresses starting on page 64 for a mailing address or contact him at www.DanielRoebuck.com.

About Steve Cyrkin, Editor

Steve Cyrkin is the editor & publisher of Autograph, and focuses mostly on forgery, market and consumer protection issues.

Comments

  1. Having worked for Daniel Roebuck on ‘Soaked In Bleach’ 2013 I think something should be added after his name, ‘One of the Nicest Guys in Hollywood’. I’ve been in 47 tv/film productions and thought Mark Wahlberg (met him during my wife’s work on ‘The Fighter’) was the nicest guys I had ever met. I can tell you ‘Daniel Roebuck’ is kind, generous and consistent’. Great sense of humor! Wish we had had more time to talk but, we were their to work. Thank you Daniel. James (Stand-In)

  2. LM Fancher says:

    The Matlock photo posted in this article misidentified the woman in the picture as Brynn Thayer.