Careers are funny things. You can go from a film debut as Jesus in Godspell, and a TV debut as Christian in a freakin’ Afterschool Special version of Cyrano de Bergerac and then spend literally decades as a solid character actor. And then no one actually remembers that Godspell even existed and that you were, somehow, an extremely goofy Jesus in it. (I don’t like Godspell.) And presumably people who like him from Alias or Titanic or Legends of Tomorrow or something routinely discover Godspell and have their minds blown.
So okay, I don’t like Godspell, but that’s not the fault of any of the performers, and it’s certainly not the fault of Victor Garber. It’s a little depressing that it’s one of his few lead roles, because anyone with any level of talent deserves better than Godspell. (I promise this article will not just be me bashing Godspell, but it’s an awfully easy target.) He feels like the sort of person who would excel at some movie that came out of nowhere and got a ton of attention. He just hasn’t found that movie yet.
On the other hand, part of that may be the fact that we don’t have a lot of access to his Broadway work. And there’s a lot of it. He was the original John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. In addition to Jesus, he also played the Devil in a revival of Damn Yankees. He was the original Anthony in Sweeney Todd. He’s gotten four Tony nominations. I assume that, if you have the chance to see a lot of live theatre, you care a lot more about Victor Garber than the average person.
Some of you, no doubt, are pointing out that he was on 105 episodes of Alias. And that’s certainly true. Though he is, from what I can tell, not the biggest fan of his character’s actions. Thought his character was a lousy father. From what I’ve heard from fans of the show, he is not alone in that belief. And, yes, he’s also done the CW Flashverse shows—I don’t feel like adding up how many episodes of which, because crossovers and so forth, but he’s definitely been part of that.
Still, though, he’s one of those actors who’s nice to come across places and clearly has talent. He’s a quiet, private person who never appears in the tabloids, and I suppose that’s one advantage to never being a huge star. Because you can talk all you want about how you keep yourself private, but if he had a big career, it wouldn’t be his choice to make. Honestly, I’ve owned the recording of him as Anthony for years, and have been listening to him as John Wilkes Booth since high school, and I didn’t realize that was him. I’m kind of ashamed of myself.