Ky. native Richardson will juggle return to group with acting career

Let’s take a look at Kevin Richardson’s Facebook page and see what the Backstreet Boy and native Kentuckian is up to.

At the top of the page is a photo about BSB’s huge new honor: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which the group learned last week it will receive in 2013, along with musicians such as Janis Joplin and Luther Vandross.

“I grew up in Kentucky seeing stars’ ceremonies on TV, so it’s surreal, it’s a huge honor,” Richardson says from his home in Los Angeles. “We’re in good company there. Pretty much anybody in terms of great actors, great rock bands is there. Paul McCartney, right after he got his star, went into Capitol Records and did a live performance.”

That will be part of a big year for the Backstreet Boys. Richardson has rejoined the group, which includes his cousin and fellow Kentuckian Brian Littrell, after splitting with them amicably in 2006 after the tour for the album Never Gone. This month, Richardson will meet the group, one of the best-selling music acts in history, in London to record an album, due out early next year.

But before that, we’re going to see a very different side of Richardson. Another item we spy on his Facebook page is an E! Online story about his two new movies, one of which puts him in the oh-so-hip vampire genre.

On Tuesday, his drama The Casserole Club comes out on home video, telling the story of five couples in the 1960s who get together under the pretense of a casserole-cooking competition but end up swapping spouses and dealing with the aftermath.

“It starts out as fun and kind of campy, and then gets real serious real quick,” Richardson says. “It’s kind of like watching a car accident. You know you shouldn’t watch, but you can’t help yourself.”

The movie has done well on the independent-film circuit and earned Richardson some good reviews. The Village Voice’s Michael Musto writes that Richardson plays a jerk “who feels ‘a man’s job is to be horny’ — and he’s pretty convincing about it.”

One of Richardson’s co-stars is Jane Wiedlin, who enjoyed chart-topping success with The Go-Go’s in the 1980s.

“We would have dinners as a cast every night,” Richardson says. “We’d sit around and share stories and talk, and everybody was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, the success of your groups together is pretty amazing.’ She’s a sweet, sweet, lovely human being.”

Richardson, 40, realized years ago that being a chart-topping musician didn’t make him a first-rate actor. A big part of the reason he left the Backstreet Boys in 2006 was to pursue acting classes and nurture the talent he had rediscovered during a 2003 run playing sleazebag lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of Chicago.

“I joined a studio group and went to class three days a week,” Richardson says. “It felt good to be a student.”

His next movie, Bloody Indulgent, is a darkly comic vampire musical in which Richardson plays a blood sucker with a substance-abuse problem.

“I’ve always loved vampire films,” says Richardson, who remembers the mini-series Salem’s Lot scaring him to death when he was growing up in Harrodsburg. “I had to sleep with one of my brothers every night for the next week, I was so scared.”

On the lighter side of vampires, he recalls the 1979 George Hamilton comedy Love at First Bite that had him running around the house playing a vampire. Later in life, he became a fan of Anne Rice’s vampire books and got an autographed copy of Interview With the Vampire from her.

The movie is in post-production, and Richardson says he expects it will hit the festival circuit late this year or early next year.

But music is making its way back into his life.

A few frames down his Facebook page, we see Richardson at the keyboard in Noise Block Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where he recorded an album of songs that have influenced him over the years. Richardson says the project started when he was sitting in with a friend’s band in California. He would suggest songs and then comment on what they meant to him during performances.

“Eventually, he said, ‘You know, you have the makings for a show here,'” Richardson recalls.

The album will include songs he heard on the radio growing up in Central Kentucky like Hall and Oates’ Sarah Smile and Ambrosia’s You’re the Only Woman.

More than a trip down memory lane, Richardson says, the experience showed him the roots of his own musicianship and helped refocus him.

“It changed my approach completely and helped me find who I am as an artist,” he says.

After recording the album, which will be out later this year, Richardson wrote a handful of songs he says he’ll take to London when he reunites with the Backstreet Boys to record.

“I really wasn’t happy artistically,” Richardson says, explaining why he left the chart-topping group. “I didn’t feel like I got to express myself artistically like I should, like I wanted to.”

Now, he says, he thinks he can balance his artistic ambitions between acting and his own music and work with the band.

“I had to go on my on journey because I feel like I might have lost a little bit of myself in all the success and all the madness,” Richardson says. “I needed to step away and get some perspective.”

Rejoining the group now “feels right,” Richardson says. “I want to now, and it just feels right.”

It also brings him back to the band in time to celebrate its 20th anniversary, as well as that star on the Walk of Fame.

And now, if fans want to follow on the journey, they just need to look to Richardson’s Facebook page.

By Rich Copley
July 01, 2012