Thomas Sadoski on Covid-19 Lockdown and Hollywood’s Need for Adults

"This is not a joke. It’s not something that gets solved with a song."

by Donna Freydkin
Originally Published: 

Thomas Sadoski is coming to you live from a place of privilege. He knows it. He knows you know it. But unlike many of his peers in Hollywood and on Broadway, he’s not here to make an empty gesture on social media or to suggest we’re all in this together as 17 million people file for unemployment and he hunkers down on his farm with his movie star wife (Amanda Seyfried) and their Instagram-famous dog.

“This is not a joke. It’s not something that gets solved with a song,” says the distinctly un-smarmy and very eloquent actor, who is currently playing a very smarmy mayor on the CBS series Tommy. “I wonder to myself, ‘How have you lost the plot on this?’ This disconnect happens. People become so insulated and insular.”

Sadoski is riding out the Covid-19 pandemic in upstate New York, where he’s looking after his daughter, 3, his horses, and his chickens. He’s been workshopping a new show. It’s him pretending to be Toothless from the How To Train Your Dragon films. It’s a one-man joint. He’s getting rave reviews from his daughter.

“I realize how absolutely lucky I am, to have this time with her and be able to spend it with her,” he says of his daughter, whose name the couple has never released.

Sadoski is also using his platform to raise money for frontline healthcare workers, the theater community, at-risk children, and food banks. The actor has always been highly engaged and charity is not a new interest, but he admits the context is different now. He sees a sea-change coming. The post-coronavirus world may be less kind to celebrities who offer “just plain folks” bromides from the decks of Malibu mansions.

“Maybe one of the great things to come out of this is that the burn rate on influencers and certain celebrities will be very high and we can purge a lot of the pointless accounts and get back to public service,” says Sadoski, who seems urger to lean into the shift.

Sadoski spoke to Fatherly about his man-crush on Andrew Cuomo and how he explains a lockdown to a little kid.

Let’s start with the positive. I’m guessing that much like other parents, being home 24/7 is not ideal, but it also lets you connect with your daughter in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

Exactly. The bond I’m creating now with her and the time I’m getting with her, I will be so grateful that I got to have these moments. What I would offer is: I’m trying to try my best to be present and grateful for the moments that I have.

The fears and the thoughts that exist inside your head serve a purpose, but if there’s nothing that can be done about them in the moment, just breathe and be present with your loved ones. I don’t do it perfectly and I don’t pretend it’s easy. But maybe it’s worth trying out.

I bitch all the time about having to work and parent at the same time, but on the flip side, I now have time to play soccer with my kid, which I never had before.

We have been given the gift of time. I am doing my absolute best to make use of it. I don’t know that I’m all that good at it.

Life is hard. Trying to pay bills is tough. I wasn’t born into the privilege to the extent that I have it. I have spent the vast majority of my life going paycheck to paycheck. I don’t take it for granted for a second that it’s easier for me to pay bills today. The reality is, we have to make space within ourselves to face the shit that we’re going through. It sucks but that’s the reality of life right now.

Does your daughter understand what’s happening in the world and why mom and dad are with her all the time but she can’t see friends or get ice cream?

She’s 3. She asks if we can we go to our local park or to the playground by the school or to her favorite little diner? We say, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t right now.’ When she asks why we tell her that people are getting sick and we need to make sure we don’t spread the sickness around or get it ourselves. And she’s willing to understand that and move on. It’s important to me that we start with the service aspect of it.

When I go out of my house, I treat myself as if I am a carrier and I don’t want to get you sick. I put on gloves. I keep my distance. When I come home, I wash my hands. It’s helpful for me to not take myself out of the middle of the herd. It’s important to remind my daughter that we have a responsibility to not accidentally move this around to people who can’t easily fight it off. You don’t get to live in a pod where you can be immune to reality.

And yet, so many people seem willfully obtuse to how good they have it. I’m sorry, but being bored in your 15,000 square foot mansion, which has a heated indoor and outdoor pool, doesn’t really garner much sympathy.

It’s scary. Yeah. I’ve noticed that there have been — people getting together and singing fucking John Lennon songs — I know their heart is in the right place but it speaks to a real degree of disconnect. It’s very easy to sing about no possessions when you have plenty. There have been some celebrities and, even worse, influencers that seem clueless how this is going to hurt people. If the best they have to offer is me me me, you know everything you need to know about who that person is.

You and I have talked about this before. You’re the opposite of tone-deaf. How do you stay that way when your peers can’t seem to manage it?

Our family is very careful about security and privacy. And yes, your community starts to shrink. You don’t meet many people outside your normal circle. One of the things I take some semblance of pride in is that we don’t live in this industry and its opulence. We don’t take it seriously. The instant you start to take it seriously you lose reality. Getting together with celebrities and singing a song is a nice thing, but the amount of time it took to film it, to post it, to get the likes on social media, there could have been so much done and so much good done.

Some would argue: It’s a nice distraction and it feels good to just put your head in the sand.

I understand the impulse. I have the impulse myself. I think that there’s not much you can say to a person who isn’t willing to listen. As much as you want to live your life and take care of you and yours, when we’re dealing with a situation like this is by being of service to a whole.

The economy is going to crumble because individuals are making individual choices. Shut up. Read the news. Act like a fucking adult. Do the right thing. People’s lives are on the line.

I follow you on social media and it appears we both have crushes on Andrew Cuomo at the moment. His daily briefings are like a mental massage.

It’s unbelievable. It’s every morning now, and I set alarms around it. I need to make sure I’m able to listen when the presser starts. He’s the only person I trust to give me the information I need in a way I can understand. I don’t need my politicians to be saints. I refuse to hold my leaders, elected officials, to ideological purity tests. What I do hold them to is moral and ethical standards. He’s doing a great job with this thing.

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