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Master of the House: A Conversation with Scott Greer (M. Thenardier)

July 1, 2008

Scott Greer as Thenardier

Scott Greer is an actor that has played a number of iconic roles here in Philadelphia. The Walnut's Les Misérables is no exception. We sat down to talk with Scott about his process bringing the nefarious Thénardier to life.

WST: Tell us about Thenardier?

It is my belief for Thenardier that the dirtier and grittier the better. He definitely lives with a kind of moral relativism and very pragmatic world view. He has such great humor and charm and he uses it to control people and to get what he wants. He looks at the world as a tough one- do good deeds OR survive but never both.

WST: What is your favorite moment of the show?

Actually, I've never seen it. I certainly don't have preconceptions about what the show SHOULD be. You listen to the score and its all in British which we aren't doing. I don't think it is an advantage or a disadvantage. I think all any of us can do is prepare to play the role as written. I am grateful that I don't already have someone else's mannerisms memorized.

WST: Tell us about working with Mark Clements.

I love working with Mark because I really appreciate his understanding of the world. He really gets the details of the everyday lives of each person. Small touches are always thought through. Even answering "what does it smell like?" can help to tell the story. He is concerned that every element is in support of the story. What the characters want must always be served by every decision.

WST: What are the big differences in working on a comedic role versus a more dramatic?

In a typical comedy, you have to heed the particular elements- Rhythm and language.

However, the basic approach is the same. Comedy has to be more real and you have to make the stakes higher. Although, Thenardier is the comic relief, I think the audience enjoys his lack of concern for the world. He is unapologetic. While he provides comic relief, it is still a very real character and story. He really does want to rob people. I mean he's picking over corpses for money. It is really his life, he looks forward to it. In that way, this is not a typical comic role. He's not lovable, he's deplorable. A huge part of his purpose is to illustrate how bad it was during that period in history that people had come to be like him. It was lawless, corrupt, disease infested and violent. Can you still choose to do the right thing despite all of this?! Thenardier serves to illustrate that at that time, your fellow man was probably not the nicest guy.