Acclaimed actor Victor Garber enmeshed in the suspense of The Entitled

by Mark Burger

In a career that has encompassed 40 years, six Emmy nominations and four Tony nominations, actor Victor Garber has played Jesus Christ, Ernest Hemingway, Liberace and the Devil, and went down with the Titanic — “and that was just on Thursday,” he quipped.

Yet it’s that diversity of roles that first inspired Garber to become an actor, and it’s what keeps him coming back for more. Whether it’s stage, screen or television, it’s evident that he’s as enthusiastic as when he started.

“What attracted me to acting was playing different kinds of roles, and I was so lucky because I never got typed in one thing.”

Garber’s latest screen outing is The Entitled (see review HERE), a latter-day film noir thriller in which he, Ray Liotta and Stephen McHattie portray long-time friends whose children (John Bregar, Dustin Milligan and Laura Vandervoort) are abducted and held for ransom by a desperate young man (Kevin Zegers) and his unstable cohorts (Devon Bostick and Tatiana Maslany) in an intricate scheme that quickly spirals out of control.

In the course of a single, tension-filled evening, loyalties will be tested, friendships and lives jeopardized, secrets revealed.

Nothing in The Entitled is quite what it seems, starting with the characters.

Garber responded immediately to the script. “That’s what attracted me,” he said. “I’ve not done very many films like this. It was a real page-turner, as they used to say — a compelling story well told.”

Although he’d known Liotta socially and worked onstage with McHattie “more years ago than we’d care to admit,” Garber said that, being professionals, they were easily able to establish an onscreen camaraderie as men who have been best friends for decades.

“It was pretty organic… the relationship was established at a drunken dinner the first night I arrived,” he joked. “That’s real Method acting. That’s the real deal. That’s beyond Stanislavski.”

Garber was equally, if not more, impressed by the performances of the younger cast members, particularly Zegers. “He’s very strong,” Garber praised. “He’s the real thing.”

Although he doesn’t necessarily enjoy watching himself, “I was curious about [The Entitled], because I’d liked the script — and it worked,” Garber said. “I was very impressed — not with me, of course — but with the other performances, particularly of the young actors. I was really impressed with the way it was shot, and that you feel compassion for the characters, even the kidnappers. It’s reflective of the times we live in and the desperate economic troubles that people face.”

It almost appears that Garber is everywhere these days. Yes and no, says he. Due to the ensemble nature of The Entitled, he completed his work in a matter of days. Recent guest stints on “Nurse Jackie,” “Glee,” “30 Rock” and “Law & Order: LA” take about as long, if not less. He’ll complete a flurry of back-to-back roles in a few weeks then wait months for the next one, and he admits he doesn’t like waiting.

Lately, however, the opportunities have been presenting themselves with a regularity that pleases the actor no end: A recurring role on the Canadian comedy series “Republic of Doyle,” a starring role as Lisa Kudrow’s exasperated husband on the Showtime series

“Web Therapy” and playing no less than Prince Charles in the cable- TV movie “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance.” He even contributed a voiceover role to the animated box-office hit Kung Fu Panda 2 and an uncredited cameo in Ben Affleck’s The Town.

Fans who know Garber best from his role as Jennifer Garner’s coolly methodical CIA agent father Jack Bristow on “Alias” (2001-’06) — which earned him three of those six Emmy nominations — may be surprised to learn that the actor is a self-described “old hoofer” with an extensive list of stage credits including the Broadway musicals Lend Me a Tenor, Damn Yankees and Little Me, which garnered three of his four Tony nominations.

Recently, a hoped-for return to the Great White Way failed to materialize. “Theater is a grueling schedule, eight shows a week, and I like going from role to role, so it would have been a limited run.”

Garber’s disappointment, however, was cushioned by other opportunities that came his way. “I have been busy,” he said. “Lately I’ve been sort of juggling things. I love to work, so I hope that’s true for a while.”

The Entitled is available from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The DVD retails for $26.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.