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First Person

Homecoming

Longtime actor Richard Herd plays a Southie guy like himself for his cameo on the TV show Rizzoli & Isles.

In this scene, Richard Herd is joined by actors Angie Harmon, left, and Sasha Alexander.

TNT

In this scene, Richard Herd is joined by actors Angie Harmon, left, and Sasha Alexander.

Having a role in TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles was enjoyable because the show is set in Boston, where I was born and raised. The establishing shots of Boston were filmed in Boston, and they go back for more for newer episodes. The show has a good Boston feel and pace to it. The character I play in the episode, “Partners in Crime,” is even from Southie like me.

I grew up in one part or another of South Boston and left for New York when I was 19. As a child I had osteomyelitis, a serious bone infection, and almost didn’t survive. I became ill in second grade and went to the Cotting School, as it’s now known, in Lexington, for young people with various ailments. I was in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital — penicillin knocked out the infection and saved my life. Lying there, month after month, you become very stoic. It really stimulated my imagination and I think actually helped me later as an actor.

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I discovered theater in the sixth grade through a school production of HMS Pinafore and eventually worked in community theater. Boston was a great theater town when I was growing up. I worked at the Boston Catholic Theatre and the Peabody Playhouse. During a two-year apprenticeship at the Boston Summer Theater, Claude Rains was there for three weeks. One evening he heard a group of us rehearsing Shakespeare and offered to come in early each night to work with us.

After I moved to Hollywood, my career in film and television took off. Now, I’m also a published poet and artist. One of my paintings was accepted in the California Open Exhibition in August. I have been blessed with many opportunities throughout my career.   

— As told to Nick Thomas

Interview has been edited and condensed.

WATCH IT Herd appears on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles on September 10.

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