This story appears in the Summer 2013 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below.
There are certain characteristics you expect from the typical actor. Confidence, for one. Then there’s emotional range and some sort of feigned humility. The rare occasion happens when a celebrity can surprise you with a paradox of attributes, the most refreshing being sincerity. So imagine my excitement to have a real heart-to-heart with Thomas Sadoski, stage-actor and resident smart-ass on the new and celebrated HBO show The Newsroom.
Acting, much like journalism, is part craft and part skill. It takes years of practice to hone one's talent, and even then is subject to the natural abilities of the artist. When these two prized (and often misunderstood) professions collide in The Newsroom, a bit of magic happens. Magic that took Thomas Sadoski from the live Broadway stage into the limelight.
Born in New Haven, Sadoski moved to College Station, Texas when he was 6, where he spent the remainder of his childhood (until he decided to embark upon the bright lights of New York). “It was a fantastic place to grow up. It was kinda idyllic. We were out in the country — deep country,” he says.
But the quaint Texas city offered him a few lessons in standing out from the crowd. “I was a punk rocker,” Sadoski explains, laughing. “I wore combat boots and purple tights. In 1994, someone handed me an Operation Ivy CD, and it changed my life. It had a big impact on me. It’s a little bit difficult growing up in a town where Garth Brooks is king.”
It was against-the-grain interests like these that led to a case of the acting bug in high school. “I fell in love,” he recounts. “I don’t know if there is ever a specific moment. Texas is a storytelling culture. There’s nothing impacting the view when you are in the country. It lends itself to this mythical mindset and kids who have an overactive or over developed imagination.” So from the time he could understand words, his dad was reading him the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” and other such impactful works of literature with graphic imagery and parlayed that creative power into theatre. Stage theatre to be precise.
Sadoski, a romantic at heart, fell in love with Spencer Tracey, Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn and other theatrical greats that brought life and joy to crowds through the art of performance — and logged 15 years of impressive and unforgettable stage roles acting alongside notables such as Mary Louise Parker, Ben Stiller, Mark Ruffalo, Edie Falco, Michael O'Keefe, Steven Pasquale, Piper Perabo and many others.
While acting in a Broadway show with Alison Pill, Ben Stiller and Edie Falco, Sadoski got a call saying that Aaron Sorkin had written a new show for HBO and wanted him to audition. “I was drawn to the script because Aaron is, well, Aaron,” he explains. “If you are going to work in words, in storytelling, Aaron is absolutely at the top of the class. [The way] he works with words, information, story and character; it’s so inspiring. It’s overwhelmingly what you want to do as an actor.”
In he went to audition, (co-star Alison Pill was auditioning for the role of Maggie the same day) not expecting that he would actually secure the role. “I didn’t think that people paid much attention to little Off-Broadway theatre news,” he says with sweet diffidence. Pill and Sadoski found out they got the part the same night.
Originally reading for Don, the version of this character was solely an executive producer who quit with no on-screen love interest. But when Sadoski and longtime buddy, Pill, showed up for the first table read, enjoying Sorkin and the creative team noticed their effortless chemistry. “Alison and I have known each other for a long time, we have this trust working with each other,” Sadoski says. “There is this ease working together. We did the table read and the other guy who was supposed to be Maggie’s boyfriend couldn’t make it. So we sat next to each other and were laughing the whole time ... I woke up Monday morning with a call from Aaron saying he had combined that into two parts.” A noticeable factor in Sorkin’s creative process is that he’s incredibly collaborative, which allows the roles he conjures to be molded and shaped by the actors who play them.
But Don seems nothing like the gentle Sadoski. Cool and complex, Sadoski oozes charm — the opposite of his character, Don, in the hit drama series. Don is cocky, obviously brilliant and a tad power hungry. A certain opposite to Sadoski's grounded, eager-boy-wonder qualities. Where they overlap is an innate sense of ethics, and a tenderness that most may not see. The Sorkin character is brash, rude, selfish and driven, although led by a moral compass. He’s even seen by The Newsroom fans to be hopelessly self-involved since viewers have rallied around on-screen girlfriend Maggie and detest his behavior toward her. But yet, we love Don, and we don’t fully understand why. Perhaps that’s the actor shining through the character, giving it dimension and layers of beauty. Or maybe it’s because we all love those clever one-liners.
“There is a smart-ass quality to Don that comes naturally to me,” Sadoski reveals. “It does resonate from some sort of place inside me. On my best days, I would like to think that I could take on the world the way Don does. I have a hard time doing simple things sometimes. Don is incredibly capable and knows it, and I also think he is strangely accepting of everyone. He has a morality that he adheres to.”
"I fell in love. I don’t know if there is ever a specific moment. Texas is a storytelling culture. There’s nothing impacting the view when you are in the country. it lends itself to this mythical mind- set and kids who have an overactive or over developed imagination.”
This summer, viewers are set to discover more about this dynamic character, and the man who plays him. Last season, the through storyline was based on relationships. This season’s format finds the cast chasing one news story almost the entirety of the episodes. “A lot of stuff that it’s about is coming up in the news cycle now,” Sadoski says.
There was a lot of criticism circulating about The Newsroom’s focus on journalism reporting of stories without verification last season. And with the Boston bombing and other current stories that seem to follow suit, it seems that Sorkin's predictions have played out in real life.
“There is a sense around the set, that we want to be very careful in the stories that we pick, that we aren’t exploiting people and their lives — especially for the sake of a TV show,” Sadoski explains. “All of us are very curious about what’s going to happen next.” So are we Thomas, so are we.