Hometown: Born and raised in Canada’s Ottawa Valley; now based in Toronto
Current Role: Scheming innkeeper Thenardier, the self-proclaimed “master of the house” and comic relief in Les Miserables.
Stage Cred: Saunders made his Broadway debut in 2008 juggling dozens of characters in the hit thriller The 39 Steps. At home in Canada, his credits include The Lord of the Rings, Spamalot and Beauty and the Beast, as well as two seasons with the Stratford Festival.
“I wanted to be a carpenter when I was young, but there was a waiting list for carpentry school when I was finishing high school. My friends said, ‘Go to Hollywood!’ They seemed to think I was funny, so I applied to theater arts school—and here I am on Broadway.”
“I love playing the villain, but it’s also nice to be one of the few people in the show who gets laughs. The audience needs a reprieve from all the crying! Keala [Settle, as Mme. Thenardier] and I seem to blend very well; we know when it’s OK to go over the top.”
“People are obsessed with this show. I had never seen it, so I wondered why, but there’s something about the story of this man [Jean Valjean] trying to do the right thing. It tugs the heart and touches on something deep within. People come from all over the world to see it, again and again.”
“I’m standing in the hallway of my [NYC apartment] building on the 41st floor looking down at Ramin [Karimloo] doing yoga on a seventh floor rooftop patio. He’s doing downward dog as we speak. I just do ‘Dog Eat Dog,’ my song in the show.”
“My wife is an actress, Elizabeth Saunders. We met doing a horrible piece of poo, but I always say if that dodgy script wasn’t out there, our daughters [now 17 and 14] wouldn’t exist. Separations can be tricky, but there’s an understanding of what the other is going through.”
“I look at plays as a recipe. Each one takes many different ingredients, and it helps to know what ingredient you are. I’m lucky because there are parts out there for character actors like me. I’m the burst of flavor when you’re eating the meal.”