Exclusive Interview: Carlo Rota, of 24
Exclusive Interview: Carlo Rota, of 24
Carlo Rota took what you could call a circuitous route into the world of acting.  The son of a world-famous Italian Chef, Carlo began his adult days in the culinary industry, working under his father.  One day, Carlo decided to be an actor.  That was sixteen years ago.  Since then, Carlo has worked on screen and stage in diverse and interesting projects.  He is probably best known for his current role on 24 as Morris O'Brian who, if you've been watching this season, has had a rough go of it.  Carlo stopped by recently to discuss his history, his experience on 24, and a very interesting upcoming project.

Below you will find both the written transcript of Carlo's interview, as well as the full mp3 audio.

Looking at your bio, your father was a big time chef, and you were in the culinary business for a while, and then pretty abruptly decided to act. How’d that all go down?

Well here’s a question, have you ever worked in the restaurant business?


Okay. Well, the restaurant business is a business that is...crisis management is the biggest part. Then, if you add the rather insane notion that I decided that it was a good idea to work with my family, with my dad...we got together and I think what happened is that it caused a mini nervous breakdown, which was probably a sizable nervous breakdown at the age of thirty and I said, “Well, what else could I do with my life? Would acting be a great choice?”

And so I then informed everyone, friends and family, that I was through with the restaurant business, that I’m gonna be an actor and, of course, things couldn’t even get more cliché than that. People just thought that I was just going through a very early midlife crisis. What they thought I needed was a proper girlfriend and, you know, probably some medication. So I went about my business, I hadn’t done it before, but luckily I had a lot of friends and a lot of the customers who came to the restaurant were in the business so I asked everyone. I asked everyone what the deal was and no one gave me the same answer and just thought that I could’ve fumbled my way into it. I took some really great coaching. I started at the time when, technically speaking, I was in the right niche cause I started working quite quickly and there’s not a better way to practice than to be on set and in front of the camera. It started from there and sixteen years later it was the thing. But it wasn’t the thing sixteen years ago; it was just something I said to people and they thought I was eventually going to grow up.

So you get the role of Morris O’Brian at the tail end of season five on 24. How did you go about getting that part?

I was lucky enough to have a regular role in another American show called (La Femme) Nikita which was shot here at Toronto. That’s where I’m speaking to you from right now, actually. And I got a regular role in a play, this cocky, procurer of illicit products and information. And the guy…the executive producer of that show, Joel Surnow, is also an executive producer of 24 and when I ran into the man this January of 2006, I think he phoned up everyone that I knew who I have worked with because I was at the time without a job or without representation and I just phoned people. Joel is the kind of guy who…if he says come up and see me…he said come up and see me and I did.  I went up and met with the producers and they said, “Great, we’ll write you into a show.” I told a bunch of friends in Los Angeles what happened and everyone forewarned me that in Los Angeles people hear that all the time.  But Joel came through on his word, he wrote me into the show and he wrote me in season five and it turned into season six, which is really a quite amazing way to start off in Los Angeles.

When you first got that role, was it always the plan to carry Morris over to season six or did they end up just really liking the character?

Well, I think that I’d like to say that I did such a spectacular job that they had no choice but I have a feeling that he’s so closely connected with Chloe that once he was established being around, being her ex-husband, then you pretty much have to include it in season six in some way, shape or form. I had no idea that it was going to turn into the whole season. That was something which took me completely by surprise and, you know, it’s a fantastic surprise. It’s great. It’s been a lovely eight months.

Is it ever hard to interact with Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe? Chloe is great, but it’s such a unique, different character.

One of the things that Joel organized when I first got down there, as I’d be playing her ex-husband, is that I met her beforehand, before I went on set. We went out to dinner in some restaurant in Los Angeles. I met her and I immediately liked her. The protagonist she plays on 24 is part of Mary Lynn’s personality. She’s a very, very funny woman. You know, she does these repeated stand up routines in Los Angeles. She has a one woman show in there and that’s beside the fact that she performs every Sunday. She’s extraordinarily funny, she’s extraordinarily warm. She’s not that perfect in real life so the chemistry was…I felt in my part was immediate. It’s been nothing but a lot of fun and joy to be working with her. I’m so glad that I was paired with her. It was almost immediate with me, so easy to understand why this guy I was playing was so attracted to her and was her ex-husband.

Going from Toronto, Canada to Hollywood, how has the experience been on the set of 24?  Comparatively to other sets, has it been a good atmosphere?

I've got to say that the way they included me in that whole process, it was almost as if…I mean, first of all, I was lucky enough to be working with two fellow Canadians as well as the directors and the producers of the show, Brian Grazer, who I’ve worked with many times in Toronto and Brad Turner, who I’ve also worked with many times in Toronto. It was kind of like stepping into a set where I really knew people and the crew was very laid back, it was a very chill crew and it’s not a stressed atmosphere on that show. Considering that they produce a show that is edge of your seat, it’s not a stressed atmosphere, people work together really well. I think that the whole show is designed that way. People that don’t fit in, they’ll end up being killed, basically.

Part 1 / Part 2

(Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl)
(Image Courtesy of FOX)