Born Jan. 12, 1960, in Windsor, Ont., but soon after moved with his family to Washington.
In his formative years, Platt travelled the world with his siblings, mother and father, the latter a former
U.S. ambassador, to many far-flung locales, including Pakistan, Zambia and the Philippines. Married,
with three kids, Platt is a distant cousin of two famous folk -- Diana, Princess of Wales (through shared
descent from American heiress Frances Work) and filmmaking legend Orson Welles.
At 6 foot 3, veteran character actor Oliver Platt literally towers over his co-stars, most recently dwarfing Heath Ledger in Disney's romantic comedy Casanova, and now in the Showtime cult hit, Huff, where Platt plays best friend to his real-life chum of more than 25 years, the show's lead star, Hank Azaria.
In Britain a few years ago working in a play, Platt remembers getting a call from Azaria, who had read the script for Huff (he plays the angst-ridden psychiatrist Craig Huffstodt) and fell in love with it. Now Azaria needed a dramatic sidekick and he immediately thought of his former Tufts University pal. Azaria figured: Who better than Platt to play Huff's best friend, Russell Tupper, a lawyer, and womanizing alcoholic who is adorable? Platt is consistently a scene-stealer in the hit series, now in its second season on The Movie Network and Movie Central.
So you're a Canadian by birth. Did you enjoy your time in Windsor, Ont.?
It was my father's first posting, and he was working in that part of Canada, in a consulate there. But honestly I don't remember much about it. I was three months old when we moved back to the States.
Your dad moved you guys around a lot -- including ambassadorial stints in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan and Pakistan. I read you'd gone to 12 different schools by the time you were 18. Did you enjoy the constant dislocation?
I got to see a lot of the world, and there's an advantage to seeing a lot of cultures at a young age. You get a perspective about the world and the country you live in. It exposed me to a wide variety of walks of life, which I think is valuable.
How'd you get into acting?
I think because we moved around a lot as a kid, at one point I tried out for a play. Acting, for me, was an automatic way of plugging in, which is an important thing when you're feeling dislocated a great deal of the time -- the new kid all the time.
Russell Tupper does some pretty horrendous things -- like sleeping with Huff's mother (Blythe Danner), but audiences can't stop liking the guy. Why is that?
People find Russell relatable because he's just written very large. All he's trying to do every day is just get through the day. He's in a tremendous amount of pain, and it was a challenge for me as an actor to find some window to make him identifiably human.
Russell's a master of avoidance, which is part of the human condition. We avoid things that make us anxious or uncomfortable -- and Russell avoids things on a colossally deviant scale. But what I think people recognize in this guy is someone who's just trying to skate through the day. He's no good at being uncomfortable.
Nothing is off-bounds for you. You do comedy (Working Girl, Doctor Dolittle), drama (Postcards from the Edge, A Time to Kill, Big Night) and Broadway (as Toby Belch in Brian Kulick's Twelfth Night). On what basis do you accept a part?
It starts with the writing. If it's good, I'm usually in. I just try to play the most interesting roles offered to me. I like the variety. Some of my favourite roles were in Funny Bones, Bullworth and I loved doing The Impostors and Pieces of April with [director]Peter Hedges.
Are you really Lady Di's second cousin, once removed?
I am, but I never met her. It's a non-story. I'd love to tell you we were confidantes. The truth is I don't know much more about it than you do.
Huff struggled in its first season, but quickly garnered a diehard following. Do you find the fans a little fanatical?
It definitely has a rabid following, very intense. I've never been involved in a storytelling enterprise where people walk up to you on the street, grab you by the lapel, and say, 'When is that show coming back?!'
The 13-part series Huff airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and at 8 p.m. PT on Movie Central in the West.