Ten Money Questions for Dan Butler and Richard Waterhouse
Although they live in Vermont of late, Dan Butler and Richard Waterhouse are what I call a Hollywood couple. Dan is best known for the role of “Bulldog” on the Emmy award-winning series “Frasier” and Richard is an acting teacher and director. They appear in the new mock-umentary feature film, “Karl Rove, I Love You”… Dan directed, produced, and co-wrote it. They both have show-biz in their blood and as you know, I love talking to the “celebs” about money. So given the chance, I jumped on this one and they kindly replied with candid thoughts about acting, money and the role it plays in their relationship. Enjoy!
1. If we label “Karl Rove, I Love You” activist filmmaking, then what is the price attached to this type of art?
Dan: It’s priceless. But I’d put at least $4 million dollars on it.
Richard: Ten Million Dollars 2. What is your most significant memory about money?
Dan: When I was a teenager, my dad talking on and on about how irresponsible I was about money and then giving me some. Very schizo.
Richard: My most significant memories (hard to pick ONE) are all about the BIG FIGURES in my life, either spending or earning – i.e., buying a house for 415K, selling a house for 1.4M, things like that. The big figures stretch me, I feel, and make me think of money differently, in a larger way.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
Dan: Getting locked in old fear instead of new abundance. Distrust. Lack of faith (as a dear friend told me you can probably distill any problem down to “lack of faith.” Live and learn.)
Richard: Ignoring them for stretches of time. (Then I’ll be really good for a while)
4. What are your plans for retirement? How does relocating to Vermont fit into these plans?
Dan: I don’t plan to retire. I expect a fulfilling, productive, expansive healthy life until I’m 115 and then one day I just won’t wake up. Vermont is a site for reconnection to nature, restoring energy, reflection, and rekindling creativity.
Richard: I don’t ever plan to retire in the traditional sense. I will always be working at something and then one day I won’t wake up. I see this as a new chapter in my (our) life. I’m teaching and renovating homes and….? who knows what else.
5. Did your parents ever disagree about money? Are there any similarities with how the two of you handle and negotiate finances?
Dan: Yes, though I was too young to know the specifics of the strife, my mom had an inheritance from her father that my dad felt she was withholding from him and his business. My mom likes money and material things and is a master manifestor for the life she wants. My dad is conflicted; he’s outwardly a pessimist and fatalist, but inside I think there’s this curious wonder-filled little kid. It’s a strange combination at times. I believe he inherited a belief system from his folks that the rich are out to get you and lord it over you.
With Richard and me, I’m working through weird fears and distrust that feel inherited and not me, but knee jerk their way into my life. However, it’s a good lesson in letting go and I welcome it.
Richard: There is a huge and creepy similarity. Dan is so much like my Mom and I, like my Dad. I’m much freer with spending and I don’t worry as much. Dan, who has a lot more, worries more and has some big money hang ups.
6. Did Frasier make you a “success”?
Dan: “Make me a success”? No. The part taught me how to play. I’m very grateful for having had the experience of the show, my fellow actors, the writing, everything. It offered me exposure. It helped give great contrast to my one-man show about being gay. It showed me success and asked “Do you like this? Because this is just a taste to entice you to more.” And yes, I do like it.
7. You make your living teaching acting which means you also wear the hat of small business owner. Has this been a challenging role?
Richard: Yes, it has been challenging. I like someone else doing all the stuff of a business owner. I wish I could just teach and collect a check, but there’s much to be gained by being your own boss. I do like making the decisions and schedule myself.
8. Do you remember how money first came up in your relationship?
Dan: Either our first madcap trip to Montana. Or most probably when we bought our house together and began doing all the work on it. Having to deal with the disparity in our earning abilities at the time.
Richard: Yes, we went to a movie together and Dan stepped up to the ticket counter and bought one ticket and stepped away. He was on a TV show at the time and I was taken aback that he had invited me to a movie and wasn’t paying for an $8 ticket for me. It started us on a long road to much bigger money issues!
9. What is the best gift you’ve ever given each other?
Dan: There are many things. But right now, it’s the gift of challenging me whenever I’m fearful about money. It enables me to see that it is most usually false evidence appearing real.
Richard: Trust in each other is the first thing that came to mind. If you mean that we spent money on, he totally surprised me three times in 13 years, twice with gifts of money and once with a beautiful and expensive watch from Switzerland. I gave him two things he loves and that I was proud to give – a gorgeous leather briefcase and a leather chair for his desk.
10. If you could buy one thing right now what would it be?
Dan: It’s a toss-up between an Elizabeth Montgomery machine where I could give a “Bewitched” nod and wink and the house and barn of our dreams here would be completely finished. OR a Time Machine. (Now you wanted something practical and real, didn’t you?)
Richard: A tractor for Vermont.
More about Dan Butler
Probably best known for the role of “Bulldog” on the Emmy award-winning series “Frasier”, Dan Butler is also the writer and performer of the one man show “The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me…” which garnered critical acclaim across the country (as well as the world) including Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations during its Off-Broadway run. A multi-talented actor, writer, director, and producer, Dan’s love of creative invention stretches back to his Midwestern roots.
At present, Dan is jazzed about making his film directorial debut with “Karl Rove, I Love You” (co-directed with Phil Leirness). Dan is also the producer, co-writer, and star of the film. A dark comedy shot in documentary style, Dan describes “Karl Rove, I Love You” as “…a different kind of love story; … part Michael Moore part Christopher Guest part “Capturing the Friedmans.”
Throughout this rich variety of professional experiences, Dan has been continually grateful for the many opportunities he’s had to be of service in such organizations as Project Angel Food, Project Nitelight, the Suicide Prevention Center, ACT-UP, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Coming-Out Campaign. He is a proud contributor to the ACLU, the Los Angeles Mission, as well as many theatres in the Los Angeles area.
More about Richard Waterhouse
A highly sought-after acting teacher and coach, Richard acted professionally as a member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA for 15 years. In Los Angeles, Richard studied film acting with the renowned teacher, Roy London, for 3 years before turning to teaching himself. Richard taught for 5 years at the acclaimed Cameron Thor Studio in Los Angeles, leaving to open his own studio in 2003.
He directed several short films and theatre productions before directing his first feature film, “Young, Single and Angry”. Richard privately coaches actors for film and prime time television projects. He also appears in the upcoming mock-umentary feature film, “Karl Rove, I Love You.”
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.