Ted Raimi: Working Hard in Hollywood

Ted Raimi (brother of director, Sam) is a character actor in the classic mode, playing small but key roles in dozens of films over the years. His IMDb page tells a longer story, but you might know Ted best as Lt. Timothy O’Neill from “Seaquest 2032” or as Joxer from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess.” When he spoke with us, he was very candid and offered rarely seen insight about what it is to be a hard working actor in Hollywood.

Ted RaimiYou’ve carved out quite a niche for yourself as a character actor, a process that’s taken years. What was it like living through that?

My mother really encouraged me to go into the business. I was lucky, you know? I had very supportive parents. But at the same time, they had two really successful retail businesses. And there was always this temptation when things got very, very hard and money got very, very tight to go back to Detroit to do retail. Because I couldn’t deny that they were both very successful. My dad was a successful furniture salesman, and my mother sold women’s lingerie. They had multiple location businesses. And I knew their business because I had helped them out. So it was always tempting. And some of these actors, you know, they have nothing to go home to. They wouldn’t go home for any money in the world. But I liked my hometown of Detroit, and I liked my parents’ businesses, so that was always a temptation for me. And it was challenging.

How often did you consider just calling it a day?

That’s a good question. A lot. All the time. And I’m not alone. I don’t want to name names, but I can tell you that I am absolutely not alone. Many successful actors, directors and writers wanted to hang it up at different points of their career. Including the times when things seemed to the general public like they were hunky-dory. I’ll tell you a story. I did three years on “Seaquest,” and that was really a successful show. We did well; our numbers were great. Then, they just dropped us because we were too expensive. At that time, we were the most expensive show on TV. I was with Universal and NBC, but then we were just suddenly finished after three successful years. I went back to Los Angeles, and it was just crickets chirping. There was no work to be found for maybe three, four, five months. It wasn’t so much the money as it was just depressing to be out of work for so long. I had this SL2 Saturn that I had since the beginning of the show, and I filled that freaking thing up with gas, closed up my apartment, sold all my furniture. I put my belongings in the backseat, and then I was just going to roll back to Michigan. Because I had had it. I was tired in the business. At 30, I was already thoroughly exhausted.

Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell on stage at Wizard World Tulsa.

Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell on stage at Wizard World Tulsa.

You were old enough to realize how scary all this stuff was.

Yeah, that’s exactly right! So I had my car filled up, and I was still going out on auditions – I just wasn’t booking anything. I finally decided to give it just a couple more days and unpacked my car. So while everything was in boxes in the middle of my apartment, I walked into Universal Studios. I didn’t say anything to most of my friends that I was leaving, but I was sort of saying goodbye. I saw my friend Rob Tappert, who at that point, was producing “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” just to see if he wanted me to say anything to anyone back home in Detroit. He said “Hey, I’m doing this new show called ‘Xena: Warrior Princess,’ it’s the spin-off of ‘Hercules,’ and would you maybe be interested in doing an episode?” I thought to myself, “Well, that sounds like fun.” That became a regular part, and there was another six years of my life doing that show. That was kind of awesome; it really was. And it was wonderful years on that show, but, yeah, I consider leaving all the time. To say the truth, I considered it about three hours ago. I’m not even kidding you.

Your fans are all glad you’ve stuck with it. What is the role you would say you’re best known for? When you’re on the street, do people know you because of ‘Xena,’’Seaquest’ or something else?

It all depends. If they come up to me and they’re tattooed with skulls top to bottom and they have 15 nose rings and spiked blue hair, I know they’re going to talk to me about all the horror pictures that I have done. If they have a happy twinkle in their eye and they’re clapping their hands together, it’s probably ‘Xena.’ Overseas, it’s more often ‘Seaquest.’ They still run it over there.

Louisville is sure to have fans of every aspect of your career.

I’m looking forward to being there! Should be a great time.

Wizard World will take place the weekend of November 6 at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Hours are Friday 3-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Weekend adult tickets are $79.95 in advance or $90 onsite. Single day tickets range from $39.95 to $49.95. VIP tickets are $199.99. For tickets and more information, visit wizardworld.com/home-louisville.html.