Tim Curry Lied To Land His First Role In Hair

In 1968, when Tim Curry was only 22 years old, he landed his first major acting gig, performing at the Shaftesbury theater in London. He played the role of Woof and was part of the ensemble in a production of "Hair," the popular counterculture "hippie" musical Gerome Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot. Woof was the role played by Don Dacus in Miloš Forman's celebrated 1979 film adaptation. Prior to this, Curry studied acting in college, and had sung in choirs as a boy. It seems Curry had no screenplay-ready moments of catharsis or quirky episodes of serendipity when wanting to become an actor; he wasn't plucked from a construction job by a producer. He wanted to act, he got educated, and he got acting jobs. Sometimes, we merely achieve what we set out to do. 

It was on the set of "Hair" that Curry would meet one Richard O'Brien, a stunt performer for feature films, who would go on to play Woof in the traveling company of "Hair." O'Brien had already performed stunts in the 1967 version of "Casino Royale" as well as in the eleventh "Carry On" film, "Carry On, Cowboy." The two became friends, and would eventually collaborate on a whimsical, sexy drag musical that O'Brien had conceived called "The Rocky Horror Show." Curry played the extraterrestrial transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter, a role he would famously reprise for the show's 1975 feature film adaptation, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The rest, as they say, is history. 

Back when auditioning for "Hair," however, Curry was still green. According to Curry's biography on his own website, the actor didn't even know what kind of paperwork was needed to appear on stage. So, naturally, he lied. 

Sure, I have experience

When he auditioned for the part, Curry was asked if he had acted professionally before. He hadn't. He was also asked if he had an Actors Equity card. He didn't. In both cases, however, he merely claimed that he did in order to make his way in the door. Luckily, the producers of "Hair" were so impressed with his performance that they kept him on and paid his Actors Equity fees to get him on stage.

It's worth noting that in "Hair," Woof sings one of the more provacative musical numbers, perhaps presaging Curry's eventual reputation for playing a bawdy, hedonistic transvestite. Those familiar with "Hair," can likely sing the song "Sodomy," which is a soul-inflected number that merely lists multiple sex acts from cunnilingus to masturbation. For his part, Curry fully intended to sing "Sodomy," but his part turned out a little different at first, largely dictated by the drugged-up cast. Curry said: 

"I wanted to do the 'Sodomy, Fellatio...' song but I ended up just jumping up and down at the back as part of the troupe. It was a very peculiar production. People just didn't turn up if they were a bit stoned or they thought they'd stay home. But I was a real trouper. I always showed up." 

Sadly, because "Hair" was so loosely constructed, Curry quickly sought to be released from his contract. Throughout the next few years, he bounced around England's and Scotland's theaters, getting roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Glasgow Citizen's Theater, and eventually at the Royal Court Theater, where "Rocky Horror" debuted.

He has worked steadily ever since, appearing in dozens of films, plays, video games, and TV shows, even after a suffering a stroke in 2012. 

Curry remains an icon, and will in perpetuity.