If you take a look at the early lives of the Hollywood actors we hear about all the time, you’ll notice a pattern. Most of them began living their lives differently from the rest of us starting at an early age. Larry Laverty is a perfect example.
Born in Berkeley, California and growing up in nearby Oakland, Laverty was a gifted student in school, always ranked near the top of his class. He befriended everyone and was particularly attracted to the kids in his classes who were different, the ones who came from poverty, the ones who had European parents, and the quiet-spoken ones.
By the time he was attending Oakland’s renowned Skyline High School, who’s many notable alumni include fellow actor Tom Hanks, Laverty had become disenchanted with school, focusing more on sports and outdoor activities. Despite his involvement in the Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout at a young age, writing for the school newspaper, playing music in a school jazz band, and running on the school track team along with other sports, Laverty had spent almost as much time cutting school to be with other longhairs as he had attending class. He barely graduated with the rest of his high school class.
Without the grades necessary to get into UC Berkeley or Stanford, where his parents had attended school, he reinvented himself by moving to the family farm in Idaho, Kuna, Idaho. There, he immersed himself in rural life and commuted each day into the nearby big city for work and to attend college. He earned two degrees from Boise State University but more importantly he worked every day to pay his own way. It was in doing these jobs that the seed for a career in acting was planted.
Laverty worked no less than ten different jobs as a young man, from working in a dark factory to milking cows in a dairy. It was the challenge of mastering each new job that interested him and despite being offered managerial careers at several of the companies he worked for, he’d move on. Unable to feel good about dedicating his life to a career in the fields of his college degrees, one day he thought he’d try his hand at acting.
Now back in Oakland, California, Laverty began doing Shakespeare’s plays and Broadway musicals at Woodminster Theater. He’d found his calling. He returned to school to study acting. In the following years, he studied at San Francisco’s prestigious American Conservatory Theater, at the Jean Shelton Actors Lab, and with the notable Improvisation groups Second City and The Groundlings.
At the same time, Laverty hadn’t given up on his love of sports so he juggled his pursuit of a career in acting with an eleven-year attempt to make the U.S. Olympic Team in speed skating. He lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Calgary, Canada, and in Butte, Montana during these years and although he failed to make it to the Olympics, he made lifelong friends in these cities and supported himself by acting.
His athletic years behind him, Laverty began pursuing acting work in Hollywood and began working regularly in television shortly after. He appeared on iconic Tv shows like The Tonight Show and The Dating Game. He worked on several soap operas including “All My Children,” ” Days of Our Lives.,” and “Passions.” He worked on docu-dramas like ” Breaking Vegas,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” “Mysteries & Scandals,” and “America’s Most Wanted.” And he guest starred on the prime-time dramas “Judging Amy” and “The Practice.”
But Laverty had also appeared in a few independent films by that point and he knew of the fulfillment that came from working more collaboratively with directors and producers. So despite having become established in Hollywood, he left Los Angeles to work in independent films all over the country. One of his first movies was a week long contract on Gus Van Sant’s 2003 top film at Cannes, “Elephant.” Soon after came roles in the well-received horror film “The Hamiltons.” He worked opposite one of his childhood acting heroes Rutger Hauer in “Dead Tone.” And to date, he’s appeared in starring or supporting roles in over 100 films.
In keeping with his lifelong bent toward mastering jobs, Laverty approaches each role he plays in much the same way that he approached each job he had when he was younger. Through research and his imagination, he literally becomes the characters he plays. In the process, he alters his appearance, his way of thinking, and his speech. You have to really look hard to recognize him in many of the characters he plays.
There is a lesson to be learned for all of us from looking at Larry Laverty’s life. That is, there is much to learn from getting past our own daily concerns and getting into the lives of the people around us. From caring and engaging with other people, we receive great rewards, including the many doors that can open up along life’s journey.