Sam Richardson Is Your New Favorite Romantic Hero
After comedic roles in Veep and I Think You Should Leave, the actor is using his charm to get the girl in The Afterparty.
For some, work entails sitting at a desk and answering emails. For Sam Richardson, it involves putting on a too-tight wig, a gold lamé blazer, and rounding up a group of young boys wearing muscle suits for the Little Buff Boys Competition. “It was like herding cats,” Richardson tells Bustle of filming with young children wearing muscle suits in the infamous sketch from Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave. “I’m like, ‘You guys have got to settle down,’ but also, they’re in the most insane circumstance anybody’s ever been in, and I see that side of it too.’”
Luckily, Richardson thrives in wacky circumstances. The 38-year-old actor got his start doing improv at Second City in Detroit and performed on a cruise ship for a year before he and his best friend Tim Robinson started writing sketches together (those sketches would eventually become the brilliant Comedy Central show Detroiters). “Improv teaches you valuable lessons,” says Richardson. “There’s something to tenacity and following through, but there’s also something to being loose and going with the flow, which has been invaluable to my life, not just [in] acting but to how I navigate the world.”
It wasn’t long before Richardson made it to the silver screen. His first television roles were on some of the biggest shows in comedy, starting with Arrested Development. “I didn’t know how to act [on set]. I was taking pictures of myself — just so nervous and so excited,” Richardson recalls. “Jason Bateman was sitting next to me as I was doing selfies, and he’s looking at me like, relax.” He got a recurring part on The Office before landing his breakout role as Richard Splett on Veep, winning over audiences with his portrayal of a bumbling White House staffer with a heart of gold. In the ensuing years, Richardson has brought his comedy chops to shows like BoJack Horseman, New Girl, and Ted Lasso.
“I think comedy doesn’t get its due,” Richardson says. “Everybody thinks it’s easier to be funny, but I think it’s easier to be dramatic. Because everybody has the experience of manipulating somebody by faking sadness, but you can’t manipulate somebody by faking being funny. Because if you’re not funny, you’re not funny.”
Humor also helped him land the lead role in the AppleTV+ murder mystery comedy The Afterparty alongside a stacked cast of comedic heavy-hitters like Tiffany Haddish and Dave Franco. In the series, Richardson plays Aniq, the sweet nerd who comes to his high school reunion in hopes of wooing his teenage crush. Romantic lead is a new look for Richardson, one that doesn’t require a gold lamé blazer or a high-concept bit. Yet as always, he pulls it all off.
Get to know more about Richardson in his Bustle Booth questionnaire below.
In The Bustle Booth
What's your coffee order?
Plain coffee with a little bit of french vanilla creamer.
What are the saved weather locations on your phone?
Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London, and then right now Providence, RI
What’s your sign?
Favorite overused movie quote?
What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
What’s one movie or TV show you're currently obsessed with?
Who is your celeb idol?
If you had to be on a reality TV show, what would it be?
Go-to karaoke song?
“With a Little Help from My Friends” - Joe Cocker
What’s something that’s inspiring you lately?
My cat’s determination that he’s going to get fed from the table.
What is something you would want people to say about you?
“He was physically strong. Too strong, in fact. Strong where it was a problem — like Hercules in the beginning of Disney’s Hercules."