Actor Will Rothhaar on his career, latest project and helping others heal
By Sara Edwards
Actor Will Rothhaar grew up around the excitement of theater and acting. His father was a managing director who owned a small theater in South Central Pennsylvania and his mother was an actress. Rothhaar and his brother spent a good portion of their childhood hanging out backstage, and when they were old enough to roam the theater on their own, they would spend free time with actors during cigarette breaks and costume changes.
“The one thing that was really great about having parents who were actors was wanting to get into it myself,” Rothhaar said. “My parents understood, they were never stage parents and didn’t push me to do anything I didn’t want to do.”
Rothhaar began acting at the age of four and his first role was in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” a play directed by his father in 1991. The experience made him want to keep going and pursue an acting career.
In the 1990s, Rothhaar and his family moved to Santa Monica to further their acting careers. While he continued to book auditions and land roles, his parents made sure that he still had a normal childhood by setting boundaries like not signing him up for recurring roles until he graduated from high school. They also regularly checked in with Rothhaar to make sure he wasn’t burnt out from the pressures of acting and auditioning.
Rothhaar said that his parents wanted him to get a good education in school and they didn’t want him growing up on a set.
“My mom and dad would check in with me and ask if I still wanted to be an actor when I was having a rough period, they understood the heartbreaking part of the business because they were actors themselves,” Rothhaar said. “I really appreciated the fact that my parents stressed the importance of me wanting to just be as normal as possible.”
After graduating from high school, Rothhaar continued his acting career, appearing in multiple TV shows including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “ER” and “Grimm.” He also received The Hollywood Reporter’s YoungStar Award in Theater, which honors young actors and actresses between the ages of 6 and 18, for his role as John in David Mamet’s “The Cryptogram’’ at the Geffen Playhouse.
In 2013, Rothhaar played Lee Harvey Oswald in the National Geographic film “Killing Kennedy” and Cpl. Lee Imlay in the 2011 movie “Battle: Los Angeles.”
He is most known for playing the antagonists and bad guys in films and TV. While Rothhaar said he’s excited to play any character role he gets, playing the bad guys are some of his favorites because the roles require stepping into a different mindset and behavioral attitude.
Rothhaar said that while he was preparing to play the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, he went down rabbit holes of research, history documentaries, books and movies to truly understand Oswald’s demeanor and attitude so that he could properly portray him.
“You’ll hear any actor say that playing the villain is the most fun and better than the hero because you get to be dark, creepy, weird and fun,” Rothhaar said.
Rothhaar recently starred in a new dramatic horror film “Ghostlight”, where he plays a creepy, charismatic con artist who puts on a play in an effort to impress a fellow actor preparing to leave town.
“My character, Joseph Watson, is a total opportunist with a fake it ‘till you make it attitude,” Rothhaar said. “He gets this idea to rent a haunted theater where some things have gone down in the past.”
As opening night approaches, Watson goes on a revenge spree and uses the haunting spirit of the theater to back up his actions and plans. Rothhaar said he gets inspiration from following and observing people in their daily lives before turning into what he called a “bubbling beneath the surface” psychopath.
“Things start to get really weird, dark and bloody,” Rothhaar said. “It’s a really cool piece. If you’re into scary movies, this is the one to check out.”
Rothhaar said much of the movie was filmed through the pandemic. But before he had signed on to do the film, he started thinking about what he would do if things didn’t return to normal, especially in the film and media industry.
“I was trying to put into perspective for myself like, what’s something I could do to make money that also makes me feel most fulfilled? And to me, that’s when I get to be of service to people,” Rothhaar said. “I just started going down this rabbit hole of what I could do as a healer, so I got my certification in Reiki energy work.”
Rothhaar has been working in active meditation since 2011, and after receiving his certification, he opened his own healing practice, Puzzle Peace Healing, last July. He offers Reiki healing, trigger point body work and general life coaching.
“The pandemic threw a wrench in everything, but it lit a fire for me to explore all things life has to offer and then come back to the thing I love the most as well,” Rothhaar said. “Acting and I have had a tumultuous relationship the past five years so I pivoted a little bit.”
Rothhaar still lives in Santa Monica and has no plans to leave. Over the years he has lived in other parts of Los Angeles, but something always brought him back to Santa Monica. His mom still lives in the apartment he grew up in, and he said there’s something about driving around and being in Santa Monica that feels like an embrace from the town itself.
“I’ve been all over the world and it’s just always nice to come back here,” Rothhaar said. “I lived in Venice and Marina del Rey, but there’s just a vibe in Santa Monica that’s different from the rest of LA that keeps bringing me back.”
“Ghostlight” is available on iTunes and most streaming and digital platforms. For more information about
Puzzle Peace Healing, visit puzzlepeacehealing.com