Actor Kevin Rahm and his sister-in-law, Mandy Marrs, at the Robinson Film Center's Backlot gala.
Celebrity sightings around town aren’t as rare as they were 10 years ago before the television and film industry came to Shreveport/Bossier, but there’s still something exciting about it when it happens. Especially when it’s a sighting that involves a character from “Mad Men,” which is currently (and accurately) being lauded as the best show on television by both critics and viewers.
Kevin Rahm, one of the show’s stars, was recently in town to attend The Robinson Film Center’s Backlot gala and his appearance in town gave many people the chance to geek out over seeing him off the television screen. “Mad Men” fans recognize him as Ted Chaough, the likable good-guy foil to the arrogantly dominant Don Draper—the anti-Don, if you will. Others may have recognized him from his five years playing Lee McDermott from the hugely popular show “Desperate Housewives.”
Or maybe some folks just recognized him as Kevin, the guy who grew up in Bossier City and went to Kerr Elementary, Rusheon Middle School and Loyola Prep.
No matter how it happens, though, Rahm can’t go far without being recognized by someone.
While sitting outside the Starbucks coffee shop on Line Avenue, Rahm’s face is partially concealed by the bill of his baseball cap, but it’s not enough to keep a nearby patron from making several furtive glances before finally giving up and coming over to the table.
“Excuse me,” she says. “I don’t mean to bother you, but….what is your name?”
Such is the life of the TV star whose face is recognizable, but whose name is less familiar. And for Rahm, it’s the perfect balance of fame and anonymity. “For me it’s still flattering,” he said after chatting with the woman for a moment. “I love this point and would happily be at this point for the rest of my life. My favorite question people sometimes ask me is, ‘Are you famous?’ To which I have to reply, ‘Obviously not.’”
Acting was not the path Rahm had chosen for himself while growing up in Shreveport. “That idea didn’t come until college. Before that, I was at Loyola Prep, and they would put on one Shakespeare play a year. My freshman year I had a senior big brother and he told me I was going to audition. I didn’t want to, but he was a lot bigger than me.”
Despite being the class clown, the stage held no interest for Rahm; however, getting to spend some time with the theater girls from nearby St. Vincent’s did hold some appeal. “I was young and small and cute, so I got a lot of attention from the girls. I thought that part was great.”
After moving to Atlanta, Texas, his junior year, Rahm began acting more and ended up winning a few regional awards. “But I didn’t take it seriously. I was going to go to law school. Every Louisiana boy thinks he’s going to be a lawyer, a doctor or a businessman... It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college and I saw a play called ‘Talley’s Folly’ that I thought, ‘Oh, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.’”
Rahm began taking acting classes, and he never looked back. After four years of college at Brigham Young, he left Utah and moved to Los Angeles with commercial and television credits already on his resume. “I was lucky that I had that opportunity in Utah. It was a small pond. The job opportunities were limited, but there were opportunities. If you are talented and you are persistent, you can find work.”
Now, Rahm says, the opportunities in Shreveport can rival those found elsewhere. The Robinson Film Center and Moonbot Studios are providing young people with the education and experience that can help them succeed in the film industry, and not just in the roles that are in front of the camera. “If those places had been around when I was a kid, the options would have been bigger and my path could have been different. Or I could have started earlier,” he said. “I would tell kids, stay here. Take the classes at Robinson Film Center, find a good acting teacher, involve yourself with people at Moonbot.”
Not to mention the opportunities provided by the local film industry, which has continued longer than many anticipated. “This could have been a short lived process. It’s a credit to the community that they have taught people the skills to allow [the film industry] to come here to do their jobs. There are hundreds of different jobs in the film industry, that you can make great money doing, that aren’t in front of the camera. Grips, gaffers, art directors, prop masters, set directors, best boys, wardrobe, makeup, hair. To have that opportunity I would tell people to go volunteer. Go to Moonbot and say, ‘I’ll take out the trash just let me watch how this works.’ Call one of the film productions in town and say, ‘I will be a PA for free this summer, let me do what I can to learn.’”
The best way to succeed, according to Rahm? Two rules: “Be there on time and don’t be a jerk.”
“Mad Men” is currently shooting the last episodes of the series, and Rahm is gearing up to take on the role of his lifetime: he and wife Amy will be welcoming their first child this September. Hopefully this means more trips to his hometown, where his family still lives.
It will be hard to say goodbye to Ted Chaough and the brilliance that is “Mad Men.” The final episodes won’t air until spring of 2015, and “Mad Men” mania will only escalate as the countdown to the ending begins. As hard as it is for viewers, Rahm is also finding it difficult to say goodbye. “For the record, I would do it for five more years,” he said. “Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) is hands down one of my favorite scene partners. If I could just work with that cast from now on, with that quality of writing, I’d be happy.”
By Kelly Flowers