Go Away With … Richard Short

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
July 4, 2017

When Richard Short was cast in the Lifetime series, “Mary Kills People” (currently in production for its second season), he had already booked a trip to France to watch the European Football Championships. Though he knew there was a chance that going away could result in his missing the start of filming, he took the risk. “I chose to fly there for a jam-packed, three-day feast of football, friends and fromageries,” says Short, 41. “I also encountered an inevitable French airport strike and almost missed the start of filming, (but) I didn’t want to cancel the trip.”

The British actor currently splits his time between homes in Los Angeles and Lizy-sur-Ourcq (outside of Paris). Fans may stay in touch with him via Twitter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Let’s just say South America. A country such as Brazil, for example, left me feeling I’d left a piece of myself behind — as if I’d lived there before, particularly in Salvador, Bahia. The people were warm, welcoming and generous. Like family. As always, I find those that have the least give the most; likewise in Chile. South America knows the importance of those that make the engine of a city work and respects them so. Uruguay is such a beautiful country, too. Ultimately, the people are the greatest asset of that fabulous continent.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. The very first trip abroad was with school, at about 12 years old, to Boulogne, France. This was before the days of tunnels under the English Channel and low-cost European flights, so we boarded a ferry that took several hours. I adored what felt so exotic at the time. Pungent cheeses and horse-meat butchers, people looking impossibly stylish and cultured. I guess you could say it captured me, as I now speak some French and own property there. Likewise, my first trip alone was to visit a friend in Munich, Germany. I’d never flown before and it was a turbulent journey on a now extinct airline. With a sick bag between my thighs, I saw this country appear below me, a country I’d been taught to distrust as an Englishman. By the time I left, I wanted desperately to live there. I’ve since visited almost every German city and speak the language. It’s a phenomenal country.

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. Travel should be the primary form of education for every passing generation. Nothing can prepare you for the effect of firsthand experience. I’ve learned one simple yet powerful thing during my travels, which is only ever confirmed even more each time I cross another border — that we are all, every single race, the same. Truly. Ignore the noise and the imposed preconceptions. Discover the common language we all share to eat, drink, enjoy life, love (and) live. Some enjoy couscous, some enjoy pork. Some drink alcohol, others can’t bear it. We all love beautiful language, no matter which tongue it’s spoken in and we all love a beautiful melody, regardless of the instrument. All of us are here for a finite amount of time and want to spend it by loving and being loved. Those who venture out into the world with an open heart and an open mind will find it a welcoming planet.

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?

A. As an actor, I incorporate everything I ever experience into my work in some form, usually by allowing shards of memories of people and places encountered to flavor a moment onstage or on camera. As a writer, I felt so embraced by Brazil and Chile. I shaped my time spent there into two books, “Upon the Fields of Green (And Gold)” and “Pino, Che & Pinochet (My Copa Runneth Over).”

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. The very toughest question of all. Let’s say Istanbul, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, New York and Rio de Janeiro. I know that’s six, but what of Valparaiso? London? Salvador? Bangkok? Edinburgh? Montevideo? St. Petersburg? Barcelona? Milan? Hiroshima?

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I’m not sure if like is the correct term, but at this moment in time I feel compelled to visit Syria or perhaps Pakistan. I’ve no doubt I’d encounter wonderful people there, despite most living in peril. I also met many of them in the (Calais) Jungle (refugee camp) last year and listened to countless stories of how beautiful their country had been. It’s a terrible state of affairs and it’s right now we must bridge the seemingly impossible divide to talk to and help one another. A trip to lie on a beach in a resort seems almost unfair.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Books and maps. As I’m getting older, I also rely heavily on a small inflatable cushion for my lower back to survive long-haul flights, as well as pocketfuls of painkillers.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. Everyone knows the best establishments to dine at when traveling are street carts by the side of the road. I’ve eaten in Michelin star restaurants that, while delicious, haven’t come close to the sensory experience of a simple piece of fruit hand delivered on the Panamanian roadside. Having said that, there’s an incredible pie shop under the town hall in Tallinn, Estonia.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Visiting the southern shores of Thailand directly after the tsunami had hit was a gut-wrenching experience. Detritus still littered the beaches and the suffering was tangible. Also leaving the incredible Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria, and seeing one of the clergymen spitting on a homeless beggar on the steps outside left a sour taste and seemed anathema to the reasons behind a church in the first place.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. Russia. I don’t know if it can be labelled untapped, but from an American point of view, I know there’s a certain fear of the great unknown. It’s a lazy hangover from the Cold War. I was recently in St Petersburg and found it to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been. Reading Gogol by the frozen Neva, sampling the finest vodka in majestic food halls and devouring communist doughnuts at Pishki, before visiting the House of the Soviets to see Lenin’s statue or the huge cemetery of those who fell during the Siege of Leningrad. It’s an imposing city. A stunningly beautiful city. A freezing city and a very warm city. Go to Russia, break bread with the Russians and be freed from the propagandist nonsense we read every day. Discover those great people on your own terms. You won’t regret it.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM

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