“THE EMPEROR'S CLUB” interview with Rob Morrow

by Ken James, Staff Writer

Rob Morrow is probably best known for his role as Dr. Joel Fleischman from TV’s “Northern Exposure” and such films as “Quiz Show”, “Mother”, and “Last Dance”. Rob is currently starring in (and directing some episodes of) the Showtime series “Street Time.”

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How did you get associated with this film?

Kevin Kline and Rob Morrow in 'The Emperor’s Club'I talked to Mike Hoffman… I was a fan of Ethan Canin, read a bunch of his stuff. He asked me to come and audition for the older Sedgewick. Then they asked if I’d do this [role instead]. I went to a school similar, so I always wanted to do a prep school movie. I had always wanted to work with Kevin, knowing him from New York. Knew Mike socially too, so always wanted to work with him. And then Ethan’s material had really resonated with me. All his stuff.

How do you usually choose your projects?

I think it’s a lot of luck, and it’s what interests me. I am interested in these issues. It was no accident that “Quiz Show” was my first movie after “Northern Exposure.” I had a lot of stuff come my way, but that seemed socially reflective. I’m into that. I learned a lot about morality from fiction, from movies. I’m into the idea of responsibility and edification and these things have found me and I have found them. I wanted to be in the movie and I made it known to Mike.

Who do you think is the best audience for this movie?

Rob Morrow in “The Emperors Club”I know I’m the audience. I’d like to think that the notion of inspiration will transcend cultural things that are going on. There’s something classic about this movie that I’m hoping reaches kids. I don’t know if it’s teenagers. College on for sure… I’m scared to say it cause it sounds like a family movie, but if my kid was 7, 8, 9 I would take her to this quickly and gladly! So the kids that still go to movies with their parents will see this. And I think it’s very important that the movie is seen by a lot of people.

What kind of effects do you hope to see in viewers?

I love the idea of rectitude. It seems like we as a whole have swung to the other extreme away. (Scandals with the Catholic church, business scandals, political scandals). These are classic, perennial ideals we are dealing with. If it awakens in us as a whole how important that is—the theme of how conquest and ambition are meaningless without contribution—I think then as a society we’re in better shape. I hope people are inspired to be the best.

Once this comes out on video and DVD, how do you think it can be used even further?

**joking** I see they can use it at the prep school I went to: “look what happened; he still wears the uniform!” It’s the kind of movie you can show in schools. In terms of reflecting on what’s important and why, I could see it being a great tool.

Editor’s Note: See MovieMission.com for a short study guide from Fuller Seminary.

Do you think a prep school environment is good for kids?

Scene from 'The Emperor’s Club'The school I went to, [a] Junior Prep, was great! In my case, I think it saved me. It gave me a structure and focus (I came from a divorced family). I was a ne’er-do-well big time. I was a Sedgewick without the smarts. It infused its way into me and I feel like it formed my character in a big way because of what I was exposed to. [In] a lot of these schools, these kids are from families where the parents couldn’t be around. So, in that case, I think it’s perfect. But it’s idealistic and oppressive too.

Do you find yourself looking back at films from the ’30s or ’40s and studying where Hollywood has been and where it is headed?

I consider myself a student of Hollywood. I see lots of cycles, for sure. There’s the whole post-“Star Wars” era, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. It’s kind of dovetailed with vertical integration to create these juggernaut entities known as blockbuster movies. But I don’t think they overshadow everything because the fact that this was made for next to nothing relatively is a good thing. It’s a good time to be making movies, despite the cynicism people have about Hollywood. They made this one.