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Arts

3 Questions: Rich Sommer

The Ohio native and “Mad Men” alum discusses his new Netflix show about the early years of women’s professional wrestling. 

As the somewhat smarmy Harry Crane on “Mad Men,” Rich Sommer was part of an ensemble cast for the ages. The stylish drama took on a life of its own, becoming both a cultural touchstone and a career springboard for its actors.

“I hope ‘Mad Men’ follows me around for the rest of my acting career,” says Sommer, calling from his home in California. 

“The reality is that I will never do anything again that comes close to that,” he adds. “I won’t ever have that experience of being shot out of a cannon. I miss it. The pain is still fresh.”

The 39-year-old Toledo native, who lived in Cuyahoga Falls until age 8 and later earned an acting degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, stars in the new Netflix comedy “GLOW,” an account of the formative years of women’s professional wrestling in the 1980s. 

“I can’t seem to get a job that takes place in the present … but my hair is naturally puffy so I fit in with this show,” says Sommer, who talked with us about pro wrestling, his new role and an early introduction to acting.

 Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
I was a wrestling dilettante, but in the late 1980s I did see Hulk Hogan and Big Boss Man in a steel cage match in Minnesota. In wrestling, we see these characters in a way that we know couldn’t be real but we cheer for them anyway. For the women in this show, there’s a very literal source of power that bleeds into their real lives.

In “GLOW” your character Mark is the husband of one of the wrestlers. How does that relationship play out?
My character is dealing with his wife’s newfound empowerment as she decides to take ownership of her own life. He’s similar to Harry Crane in the way men in the 1960s were similar to Harry. [It was] before men were faced with the fact that women are independent human beings, which is something [men] hadn’t bargained for.

What was your first exposure to acting?
It was very exciting getting the title role in “Johnny Tremain” at the Newberry Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls. My earliest memory of going to a play was a production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” in Akron. I remember meeting the actors afterward and it was a revelatory moment for me. When I think about acting, the first seeds were planted when I was a kid.

“GLOW” premieres on Netflix on June 23. For more information, visit netflix.com.

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