Chaffee: You moved here from New York to be an actor?
Strain: When I went to New York, auditions were always a hundred people who looked just like me. I needed to go where I could get work, build my resume, hone my craft …
Chaffee: Washington provided that?
Strain: It allowed me to fulfill my goal of being a working actor and not getting pigeonholed in one character type. I got to know everyone quickly in a creative, challenging, and supportive theater community. In New York, you’re on your own with no one to look out for you.
Chaffee: Critics say you excel in dark roles.
Strain: Personally I’m not that dark, but I do like to get into that head. Such journeys help expose things we all keep hidden.
Chaffee: You played the Roman emperor Caligula in the play by Camus.
Strain: Caligula did abominable things. The challenge was to also to make him human, to somehow reveal the torment beneath it all.
Chaffee: Your Angels character wallows in a major guilt trip.
Strain: He behaves selfishly but his moral debate is incredibly compelling. He is asking the big question: Are there limits in loving someone?
Chaffee: You’ve been called the most versatile actor.
Strain: Put me onstage and you’ll see a transformation. I will be different from who I am in everyday life.
Chaffee: ‘Hi diddle dee dee, an actor’s life for me, you tour the world in a private car, you dine on chicken and caviar’
Strain: That’s it! That sums up my life perfectly.