From a devious political operative on Scandal to a doing-his-best dad on The Carrie Diaries, Matt Letscher’s had his share of wide-ranging and highly visible parts recently. Now with films including Her, with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, and Devil’s Knot, with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, the 43-year-old Michigan native is set to add a whole new set of high-profile projects to his “Isn’t that the guy from…” list.
DuJour caught up with Letscher to talk about the world before Sex, juggling roles and just how Hannibal Lector plays into his master plan.
The second season of The Carrie Diaries is about to kick off. How immersed were you in the world of Sex and the City while making your own show?
I have seen the show of course, and I did read the books that Candace Bushnell wrote, but I kind of always had the feeling that we were kind of recreating Carrie Bradshaw in a parallel universe. She doesn’t retain all of the same elements that we know and love about her in that first series. She’s the same character, but some elements about her life are different, the main one being the presence of her father. He’s not a bad guy in this story and that diverges from the original story. Because it’s a prequel, you get to cherry pick the best parts of the older Carrie and introduce them as you want. And it’ll be a special joy for fans to have the Samantha character revealed this year.
Do you ever hear from those Sex and the City obsessives who say, that’s not the way things were…
There was a little bit of a brouhaha about the character of Tom Bradshaw because Carrie’s father in the first series was portrayed in such a negative way, but I think our audience is coming to us with fresh eyes and it isn’t something that bothers them too much. Still, you do get some of that from fans of the original show.
It seems like your character will have a little more fun this season.
He moves back to the law firm he was with when he first met his wife, so he finds himself in the city a bit more. It’s nice because I’m able to shoot in New York and not always on stage at the studio in Connecticut.
Your character on The Carrie Diaries is a nice guy but Billy Chambers, your character on Scandal, is evil. Do you get mixed reactions from fans?
The characters are very distinct from each other. Once in a while someone will send out a tweet saying, “I don’t know whether to root for Tom or hate Billy.” But for the most part, people—because they are such two different shows—they get it straight pretty quickly.
You’ve also got a role in the upcoming Spike Jonze film Her.
It was a good year—getting to work with Spike Jonze and then also watching Joaquin Phoenix was kind of a dream scenario for an actor. I think what Joaquin does in the movie is up to his usual bar of excellence.
You’re also in the forthcoming Devil’s Knot. What else do you have coming up?
We’re going to finish up The Carrie Diaries, and then I’ve got a bit of a hiatus. I’m hoping to find a play; it’s been a couple years since I’ve been on stage, and I feel like it’s time to get back on the boards and get the blood flowing again.
What would your dream stage project be?
The dream play would be a new play, for sure! And it would be a new play by Tom Stoppard or one of our other geniuses.
And there’s a lot of chatter about whether you’ll return to Scandal.
I feel like now that aspect of Billy’s storyline has been tidied up and he’s behind bars, if he was to come back it would have to be under entirely different circumstances. I can envision him as some sort of consultant for Olivia Pope and associates, the political equivalent to Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs, with Olivia Pope as Clarice.