What is Tom Verica’s geeky passion?

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Rick Yaeger: Hey, everyone. It’s Rick Yaeger here with “One Question Interviews,” the show where I get the golden opportunity to talk to a celebrity, and then I waste it on some totally random question.

Sitting across the Internet from me today is an actor and director responsible in no small part for making me stay up way past my bedtime on Thursday nights to watch both “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” Please welcome Mr. Tom Verica.

Tom Verica: Yay. [claps]

Rick: Yay.

Tom: Hi, guys.

Rick: Hey. Welcome to the show.

Tom: Thank you very much. Good to be here.

How To Get Away With Murder and Scandal

Rick: Thank you so much for doing this. Before I launch into the one question I like to give my guests the opportunity to talk about what they’ve been up to, and I’m a big fan of the show so I’m anxious to talk to you about How to Get Away with Murder. As we record this, the two-hour season finale is a mere five hours away.

Tom: Yeah, it’s coming.

Rick: I have no idea what marvels it will hold, but…

Tom: Whatever I say cryptically will be played back. I have to be very careful, of course, because at this time and this moment there’s a lot that’s going to be explained and introduced tonight that a lot of people have a lot of theories on.

It’s interesting. Portia De Rossi and Ellen are huge fans of the show, and Portia just yesterday she was on set and giving me her theories about who she thinks, and it really is quite fascinating the rabbit hole that everyone goes down trying to figure out who.

If you go down the list of characters and try to see, well, this person could have done it for A, or B, or C, you actually can go back and do the DNA of how this is all laced together from the beginning, and they’ve done really wonderful things about bringing that back around and, of course, those of you watching you will have seen what they’ve done.

To hear the theories of yourself and Portia and other people it’s quite fascinating to see what things people lock on to take them to get to their answer.

Rick: Your character is burnt up and broken apart so not much chance of the character returning next season other than in flashbacks? [laughs]

Tom: I would think either my twin brother comes back or flashbacks. There was a plan, I think, for me to be in three or four episodes initially, and it’s turned into a lot more, and I’ll be back in tonight’s finale. It will introduce yet another element that can…I’m trying to be very careful here.

Rick: [laughs]

Tom: It will obviously reveal something about the past in the flashback sense, and potentially open up some other avenues.

Rick: I look forward to the show every week.

Tom: Good.

Rick: In a way I don’t want to know, but I have to know.

Tom: The mark of a really good writer.

Rick: It has to be handy to be dead on a show while producing and frequently directing Scandal.

Tom: It has its challenges. Fortunately they’re all within this building, or the production office is one floor above us for How to Get Away with Murder, and our sound stages are all right next to each other.

That’s the only possible way I could be doing both jobs, and usually I do my duties at Scandal during the day and How to Get Away with Murder they usually schedule my work at night.

Rick: Wow, you’re working around the clock on this.

Tom: Almost, yeah. Sometimes there are some days that my kids see my very early in the morning, and then I won’t see them until the next morning, but it doesn’t happen frequently.

Rick: You are sharing directing duties. I see some other names pop up and on the Scandal credits, Debbie Allen.

Tom: Debbie Allen is a terrific director and a huge fan of How to Get Away with Murder as well. She directed one of the episodes. She just every now and then will leave me a voicemail saying, “Ooh, bad Sam, bad Sam.”

Rick: [laughs]

Tom: How’s bad Sam? It’s very funny. Regina King is directing with us right now. It’s her first episode directing with us, and she’s doing a terrific job. We have a really solid, really good group of directors.

The Interview

Rick: I’m going to get to the question if…

Tom: Yes.

Rick: I’m going to grab for the one question. This is how you know that the interview has started.

Tom: OK.

Rick: As you know the show is called “One Question Interviews.” I have almost a thousand different questions ranging from the profane to the profound. I will choose one at random and you’ll answer it seriously or in a funny voice if you like, and everyone goes home happy. Cool?

Tom: Cool.

Rick: OK.

Tom: Ruh-roh.

Rick: Ruh-roh? [laughs] That’s a little Scooby reference.

Tom: It is. You said a funny voice. That’s was as far as I go, but go ahead. Go.

Rick: I’m going to riffle down the side. You tell me when to stop, and that will be your question.

Tom: And…stop.

Rick: Stop. Would you like the top or the bottom?

Tom: 40 percent. Right there at the top of the bottom stack.

Rick: Top of the bottom. Bottom of the top. Top of the bottom. OK. Tom Verica, what is a topic that few people know that you are either an expert on or extremely interested in?

Tom: There are a few things, and I’m going to go with NASA. I’m a fan of science and exploration. I find myself constantly looking at the new technologies of space travel. This [inaudible 6:10] probably ties into my affiliation with doing “From the Earth to the Moon.”

We did an episode of that, and I got roped in there by talking with some of the technical advisers who were astronauts. One particular discussion I had with Neil Armstrong about…

Rick: Wow.

Tom: Yeah, I had the fortune of meeting him and talking with him one time, and it sparked…I had this as a kid remembering when he walked on the moon.

Then being able to talk with him it was an amazing moment in my life. That was all very exciting to me as a five-year-old in ’69 when this all happened. I do remember one of my earliest memories is watching Neil Armstrong step off that ladder.

This particular time it was the 35th anniversary of the moon landing, and I was honored that I was asked to present or introduce Walter Cronkite in Washington DC. I was on “American Dreams” at the time, and we had a whole astronaut story line.

They had called up, and I was like, “There’s so many other people. You can get Tom Hanks. What are you calling me for?” Neil Armstrong was a fan of the show and a few other people so I got to go in and introduce Walter Cronkite who introduced the three of them.

It was probably the last time all four of them were alive and got together, and that was a pretty cool thing. It was one of those really once in a lifetime experiences that I had.

Rick: That’s amazing. Just to have that as an event in your life.

Tom: I’ve got this great picture of me and those three astronauts, and that’s pretty cool.

Rick: Wow, that’s awesome.

Tom: Ever since then through Mars Rover and the journey that that took I track that stuff. I take my kids to JPL every year, to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to see all the new developments that are happening through NASA. That’s the one thing that’s a little different that I really get a kick out of.

Rick: Fantastic answer. I’m glad you got that question.

Tom: Yes, thank you. A good one. That whole stack, who would have known?

Rick: In that whole stack you could have got, “What was your favorite Sesame Street character?”

Tom: Cookie Monster.

The Wrap Up

Rick: [laughs] All right, everyone. Catch Tom in flashbacks on How to Get Away with Murder when it returns this fall, because it’s over now. I’m assuming that it’ll have the same time slot, that being Thursday nights at…

Tom: At 10 o’clock, yeah.

Rick: 10:00 PM, 9:00 Central, on ABC. You can see the influence of his directing and producing talents on Scandal an hour before that Thursdays at 9:00 PM, 8:00 Central on ABC. Tom is on Twitter @tomverica. Sounds good?

Tom: Sounds good.

Rick: Again, thank you so much for being my guest. It’s been my honor to talk to you.

Tom: Thank you, Rick, and thank you all for listening.

Rick: I hope you had fun.

Tom: I did.

Rick: I’m sure everyone else did, and everyone else you people out there, thank you so much for watching. Thank you even more if you subscribe to the show for free on YouTube. I appreciate that. It makes my heart just glow like ET, I guess. [laughs]

Anyway this is Rick Yaeger for One Question Interviews. Take care.

[music]

Rick: …watching this and seeing…

Tom: How could you not see this?

Rick: Come on, Rick.

Tom: We saw it. We’ve known this for five weeks now.

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