Before he saved lives as John Carter in “ER,” and saved the world as Tom Mason in “Falling Skies,” Noah Wyle was a struggling actor in L.A. But when times were toughest, he was sustained by “Blind Faith” — the 1990 NBC TV movie, that is. The one that earned him his first mention in Variety.
Do you recall seeing your name in the publication?
I do, because my mother framed it. It was pretty huge. Variety looms large in my house.
What do you remember about the role?
To quote my grandfather, who sat through three hours of that movie, “I had to watch a lot of ‘Blind Faith’ to watch a little bit of Noah.” It was not a big coup, but it was my SAG card. Somebody told me you had to say seven words to get into SAG. My line was, “What’s going on down there?” I spent all morning trying to get in two extra words.
Any contemporaries or competitors at the time?
The guy I auditioned against for the part was Matthew Perry. I hadn’t even started taking classes yet. I got that job straight out of high school. I may have even been 19.
What do you remember about that time in your life?
I’m not overly nostalgic or romantic about that time; it doesn’t have this rosy glow about it. If you had $60 after you paid the bills, you felt like a king, and you got an extra topping on the pizza. I recently got a job, and sort of took the news in stride. I didn’t do the dance in my living room that I did back then. There’s something kind of sad about that. My kids did the dance.
How long was it before you booked your breakthrough role in “ER”?
Three years. There were a couple good false starts, which I think were excellent in keeping me grounded. I didn’t really work for a year and a half after that, then I got two movies back-to-back, and I didn’t have to work in restaurants.
Do you think this role changed your career?
I remember I was living in a really scummy apartment of Hollywood with a roommate who worked at Rock ’n’ Roll Ralphs on Sunset. That job allowed me to move out of that place.
So I take it you two aren’t friends on Facebook?
Oddly enough, I was thinking about getting back in touch.