Thomas Haden Church, as an actor, has a unique persona—ruggedly handsome, square-jawed—a mystique cowboy, and let’s not forget that undeniable Texas drawl. He’s exactly as I imagined him to be in person; let’s just say if the ‘Marlboro Man’ from the sixties could actually speak, that pretty much sums up the ultra-cool Thomas Haden Church.
And speak he did—his voice remains true to his relaxed macho image; it has a deep, resonating baritone quality; it’s no surprise that he has voice credits in major films, although his voice work is not what he’s known for. Church’s breakout role was in a the Academy Award-winning film, Sideways (2004), from which Church himself scored a nomination for an Oscar for his Best Supporting Role.
We met on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, at the Waldorf Astoria, in a lavish suite in Chicago. Upon meeting Church, he instantly smiled and gave me an expected firm handshake with a definitive nod.
As I was setting up my digital recorder, he began telling me a story about a Texas journalist (Evan Smith) who came to his ranch in Texas (2005) to interview him for a big cover story for Texas Monthly magazine. It seems that the said journalist had spent eight hours with Church that day and phoned him a month later to say that he only got five minutes of the interview due to his low batteries. And…could he please re-cap the whole day in a thirty-minute phone conversation?
I assured him my batteries were fresh and that I could always use my iPhone as a backup. We both laughed, and he continued, “And you know what? Evan and I are still friends to this day.”
The first order of business was to congratulate him on his performance in the film Max as Ray Wincott, a father whose son dies while in combat while in the military. Ray decides to adopt his son’s traumatized war dog (Max) and gives his younger teen son (Justin, played by Josh Wiggins) total responsibility for Max. I asked what drew him to this role in this family film.
“The unique perspective of presenting a war hero, a combat vet’s perspective of a dog, and how critical these animals are to protecting and saving solders’ lives in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he replied. “Also the dramatic aspect of Max (the war dog) and the fact that he’s vulnerable to all of the emotional trauma that a human is in post-war experience.” Read more…