UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State School of Theatre faculty member Richard Robichaux fondly recalled summers spent in Louisiana with his “Paw-Paw” for his most recent role, a Cajun local named Pascal in the New Orleans-set “Devil in the Deep Blue Sea.”
“Playing a character who speaks a mix of English, Cajun and French was a wonderful challenge but also a bit emotional for me,” said Robichaux, head of acting in the School of Theatre. “My grandfather worked construction just like this character and all my Cajun I get from him. You couldn’t always understand what he was saying, but you always knew what he meant! This project, more than any other, had an almost spiritual quality to it for that reason. I could feel my Paw-Paw during every scene.”
“The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, is about Henry, an architect, and a homeless teen, Millie, who become friends after Henry’s wife tragically dies in a car accident. Henry and Millie set out to build a boat to sail across the Atlantic, away from the world that has given them so much grief. Robichaux plays a handyman who helps them build the boat. “I am enlisted to help the family repair more than just their house, but also fulfill a dream that may rescue Jason Sudeikis’ character from his grief,” he explained.
The film stars Jason Sudeikis (Henry), Jessica Biel (Penny, Henry’s wife) and Maisie Williams (Millie), with music by Justin Timberlake. It was directed by Bill Purple. “He is hands-down one of the best directors I have ever worked with, and I have already asked him to come visit with the students at Penn State next year,” said Robichaux.
Those professional connections help Robichaux to teach his students not only the art of acting, but acting for a living. “Like any professor here at Penn State, professional development is a key part of my position,” he explained. “Every time I work, I learn. And when I learn, I teach. … These contacts that I make become invaluable for my graduating students. I am also able to translate for them how I take the techniques we learn in class and use them in a professional venue, where I may be working in television, film or theater.”
Robichaux’s credits also include the award-winning film "Boyhood" and television appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, Showtime and Comedy Central, as well as productions at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Yale Repertory Theatre and many more. Later this month, he will spend a few days in Austin, Texas, shooting “When Jack Went Glamping,” directed by Brandon Dickerson.