Dermot Mulroney Shares How Music Keeps Him Centered

by Ronke Idowu Reeves
In a career that spans 30 years, actor Dermot Mulroney has remained a fixture in both film (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Jobs) and television (Shameless, New Girl). The actor now stars in the new TV drama Pure Genius, as a doctor who practices medicine at a technologically advanced hospital that dramatically saves and changes lives (check your local listings).
Z Living checked in with Mulroney at the 10th Annual 2016 Paleyfest Fall TV Previews where he discussed one of the biggest influences in his life—music. Here, Mulroney shares how being a musician brought balance to his life as an actor.
You star in Pure Genius, a new CBS medical drama, but I hear you also play cello and guitar.

Yes, I do. I play something every day—guitar, piano, just because they [the instruments] are out. Pure Genius’s creator Jason Katims wrote in that my character Dr. Wallace plays cello. So you’ll see the doctor-playing cello on the show. He wrote it in, and it will actually be me playing.

Check out a clip of Pure Genius here:

Acting is a rollercoaster ride of portraying other people and displaying a wide range of emotions on demand. What does music bring to your life? And how does it balance your existence as an actor?

When I’m playing for myself, it’s a release, it’s a getaway. It’s one of my favorite things: writing songs or thinking up how chords go together. But really when I’m playing professionally it’s the most mind-boggling thing, because I play in orchestras too, for movies with composer Michael Giacchino. He’s done some of the great movies like Inside Out, Mission Impossible and Ratatouille. He also won an Oscar for Up. Michael does a lot of the Pixar movies.

Also on Z Living: John Krasinski On Work-Life Balance & 'The Hollars'
You also work as a celloist in Michael Giacchino’s orchestra? I didn’t know that.

Yes. Michael composed the scores for Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and John Carter. Anything he’s done in the last eight years, I’m on it. And I have to tell you sitting in the back of a cello section of an orchestra and playing with 120 highly trained musicians is the most amazing experience.
How did this other musical life of yours begin? When did you discover cello, guitar and piano?

I started in the public school system in Alexandria, Virginia. I started playing cello when I was seven. And I played that straight through college. And then early on in my acting career, just in my spare time between jobs, I picked up guitar. Then I changed over to mandolin a little bit in my twenties. I picked up piano in my thirties. I’m just self-taught, and I don’t really read. It became a hobby to pick up other instruments in cycles over the years.

Also on Z Living: Actor Michael Jai White Shares How Martial Arts Gave His Life Discipline
That's so cool. You’re an actor moonlighting as a professional musician. And like actors such as Kevin Bacon and Johnny Depp, you have your own band.

Right now I’m rehearsing for a record release show for my band Cranky George. We have an album finished called Fat Lot Of Good which comes out on October 14th.  You can go to and look up Cranky George for more information, digital download, vinyl or CD. Once or twice a week after a long day at work, I go out with my brother and couple of my friends in the band to play music. I have a whole other life out there outside of acting.
WATCH on Z Living: Healthy Gourmet, where nutritionist Julie Daniluk and chef Ezra Title join forces and battle between taste and nutrition, helping home cooks create nutritious and tasty meals that can feed a crowd. See a sneak peek here.
Tell us in the comments: What centers and balances you in your own life?

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