Dual roles as actor and director keep Tom Verica running.
It’s hard to say no to any opportunity presented by producing powerhouse Shonda Rhimes.
That’s why Tom Verica ended up in the unique position of directing and coexecutive-producing Scandal this past season while also playing Sam Keating — husband of star Viola Davis’s character, Annalise Keating — on How to Get Away with Murder.
“There are days where I was going back and forth, and I felt like I was in a pinball machine,” Verica muses.
That said, he is glad he took on the challenge. “I just faced what was in front of me at any given moment. I was going from one thing to the next and saying, ‘Okay, what do we have here?’
“I think back to my years when I was just an actor. You have a lot of time to think, and sometimes that’s not a good thing. You overthink things and you overprepare, and you’re not able to be in the present.”
While it was unclear at press time if his character will return on Murder — Sam has been killed but could be seen again in flashbacks — Verica is ready and willing. “Working like this, as a director and an actor, really forces you to be in the present in both positions.”
Verica began acting nearly 30 years ago, and his résumé includes regular roles on series ranging from L.A. Law to American Dreams. He started directing more than a decade ago and has since helmed episodes of Boston Legal, Ugly Betty and The Mentalist as well as Rhimes’s Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.
And while he still takes the occasional acting gig — at Rhimes’s request he appeared as a patient in a 2008 episode of Grey’s Anatomy — directing has become his true passion.
“That’s really where my creative drive is right now.”