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Long road brings Robert Wisdom to 'Nashville'

January 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Actor Robert Wisdom is one of the co-stars of TV's "Nashville." He got his first credited role back in 1990. Now at the age of 59, he has some 75 titles on his resume -- not bad for a guy who started out on Wall Street.

Wisdom plays "Coleman Carlisle" on the ABC drama "Nashville." His character is running for mayor of the country music capital. But listen to Wisdom talk, and he sounds like he could run for mayor in real life.

"I mean, you can put this city on par with the great cities in the world," said Wisdom. "People appreciate that we're shooting here [in Nashville]. They love what we're doing with their town. They love what they're doing to their culture, you know, because they see us really representing it with some authenticity and that really makes a difference."

Wisdom is proud to have made a career as a working character actor. It's a far cry from where he thought his career would lead him.

"I was a banker on Wall Street when I first came out of college," said Wisdom. "I studied history and economics. And then I went from there into public radio. I was on National Public Radio for years and worked in that field. Then I moved to the arts and I was a curator in a museum in London for 10 years."

But the draw to acting was always there. And in what sounds like a scene out of a movie, he got his first acting gig thanks to a wrong phone number.

"There's a great casting director who missed out by one digit," said Wisdom. "She left this frantic message on my friend's answering machine. So I took the number and I gave her a call back, expecting to be rejected.

"I said, 'Look, I just moved here. I don't have an agent,' and she said 'Come down to see me.' She took me in. Next thing you know, I'm walking into the office with Richard and Lili Zanuck and it was a big project for Dana Carvey. They got me in the union, she found me an agent and I've been working ever since."

If you've been thinking about watching "Nashville," Wednesday night's episode is a good night to start. There's a catch-up special of the season so far called "Nashville: The Whole Story." It airs at 10 p.m. on ABC7.

It was announced Wednesday that the show has just been added to PaleyFest, the annual two-week celebration of television, in March.