Actor Nate Torrence has earned one distinction that no other actor can match. He was the most expensive corpse ever to appear on “CSI.” While that may not be enviable to some, to Torrence it meant a huge ca-CHING.
The boy from Ohio had moved to L.A. with his high school sweetheart, now wife, when he was just 21. For their first anniversary back home she had gifted him with a map of L.A. “I think we can do this,” she told him.
“I don’t know I would’ve had the guts to do it without her,” he says.
When he landed the role on “CSI” he was jubilant. “I died in a tub. I get in a fight. Someone punches me in the back of the head. I go home and am resting in the tub when I have an aneurysm, but all my roommates are gone. When they finally find me, I’m blown up to the size of the tub because I’m bloated. And they have to use a crane to get me out. So I’m this giant ‘Nutty Professor’ corpse. It was the coolest day of my life! My first job on TV and I thought, ‘This is amazing!’”
Of course, that came after years of prime commercials which earned Torrence recognition if not a viable TV or film job. He shared a Capital One commercial with David Spade and became the hysterically funny Volkswagen driver who screams all through his test drive. “Adam Sandler saw it and thought I was funny in it and invited me to a party,” he recalls. “And that’s how I met some agents. It’s been a long, weird journey.”
That weird journey has led Torrence to “Weird Loners,” Fox’s new comedy airing on Tuesdays. The show is about a group of misfits, weird loners, who have a hilarious time trying to fit in. Though he’s been married for 16 years and has a son, 10 and a daughter, 7, in a way, Torrence is a weird loner too.
“Being so young and being married and having kids in Hollywood made me really a weird loner,” he nods.
“I’m in my 30s now. When I was in my 20s that was very odd. People didn’t know how to relate to me. . . Most of the time you’re going on stage at 1 or 2 in the morning, just trying to get stage time. A lot of my friends were in the dating scene and hooking up. I said, ‘Oh, no, I have to get back to my wife.’
“When I had the kids that’s when it really threw them off. The cool thing about it is - everyone just has something that makes them different, and people can look at that as a positive or negative. We all have that choice in life. We can learn from someone that’s different from you, or you make fun of someone who’s different from you.”
Torrence made films (“She’s Out of My League,” “Get Smart”) and co-starred on television’s “Mr. Sunshine” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” But just as his career began to soar he did another weird thing. He moved his family to Colorado for five years. “I found myself getting into arguments with my representation. They were like, ‘You need to make good career choices.’ I said, ‘I’m not all about career. I want to enjoy what I do, and I want to like the character I’m portraying.’
“When you’re in your 20s and look like me, a lot of times you’re being characters that maybe I don’t want to play, especially like the whole sex-comedy that’s gotten really big. That’s fine for certain people but for me, having kids and stuff, I’m not comfortable with that. I held firm. I said, ‘I’m fine with waiting. And if nothing comes up, nothing comes up.’”
But something did come up, “Hello Ladies” with Stephen Merchant and “Weird Loners.” Then calamity struck his family, and Torrence made another move.
“My grandma had a bad fall and wasn’t doing that well. And there were some insurance issues, and she was going to move in with my parents. My mom had double-knee replacement surgery, and my dad was traveling a lot. You watch your family getting a little older and we’ve been gone for 15 years now, and we’ve always been close.
“So I just told Christie, ‘We’ve made it work for five years in Colorado, why don’t we just go home and try that?’ Christie was cool with that and they moved to the small town of Wooster, Ohio.
The best thing to happen in his life is his wife, Christie. They met in the eighth grade. They were passing their spelling tests to the teacher when Torrence noticed she’d misspelled one word. So he corrected it. Immediately Christie raised her hand and said, “He changed my spelling test!” It was love from then on.