Throughout his career, Robert LaSardo has found his niche in Hollywood playing the devious criminal. Often evil personified on screen, he constantly manages to charm police investigators and audiences alike.
As Escobar Gallardo on the award-winning series Nip/Tuck, Robert plays a cunning villain who convincingly tortures Dr. Christian Troy into revealing key information about the location of a child molester. As a gang member on both CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami, he taunts the lead investigators but ultimately wins their respect. With more recent performances in Ghost Whisperer and his own independent film Never Down, Robert is creating complex characters that are tortured by life, rather than the torturers themselves.
Born on September 20, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York, Robert spent his childhood in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn near the once famous Steeple Chase amusement park, commonly known as Coney Island. During an impoverished and turbulent upbringing, Coney Island was a refuge for young Robert. Riding the New York City subway trains on his own by age eight, Robert found his escape and second home in the fantasy land of the ageing but enchanting old world theme park. From that point on, it was clear that seeking safety and peace-of-mind in places and things that supported creativity and imagination were necessary for his survival against the contrast of his stressful home life.
Having to deal with poverty and instability at home, Robert’s father eventually took his son and moved away from a life that was breaking apart. Moving from place to place on little or no notice, Robert and his dad found themselves living in cars, camping in the woods during the warmer months, and occasionally staying with friends. Moving through different neighborhoods and meeting people from all walks of life, Robert developed a broad perspective about the world around him and the people in it. Each new environment or person he encountered required a transformation within himself in order to adapt and survive.
By the time Robert approached his mid-teens, life had become more stable. It was during this period that an English teacher encouraged him to try out for the High School of Performing Arts, later celebrated as the Fame School in Alan Parker’s 1980 film. Robert auditioned and was accepted into the highly sought-after performing high school.
For three years Robert studied the Stanislavski method of acting and graduated with honors in 1981; receiving the Playbill Award for most growth as an actor. Robert developed a close and supportive friendship with his acting teacher, Anthony Abeson, who would go on to coach Robert for many years after high school. But during these years a more rebellious side of Robert was also emerging; one that threatened to undermine his creativity and his future. Gangs and a few encounters with the law proved to be an indication he was headed in the wrong direction.
After graduation, Robert traded in his rebellious ways for four years of discipline in the U.S. Navy, two of which were spent handling Navy attack dogs in the Aleutian Islands. The next two years, however, were more in keeping with the traditional overseas travel of the Navy in places like Africa, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.
By 1985, Robert was honorably discharged and was hungry to reclaim what he had put aside for four years: acting. Throughout his military service, Robert had remained in contact with his close friend and mentor Anthony Abeson.
“Anthony would never let me forget my passion,” Robert recalled.
After a few meetings with Anthony, Robert was committed to his beloved craft again. Through Anthony’s relationship with the New York Actors Studio, in 1986 Robert was permitted to participate in the working observer program. There, long before the studio had developed its television forum, this program allowed Robert to observe actors like Shelly Winters, Lee Grant, Christopher Walken and Ellen Burstyn teach fellow members at the studio.
“It was amazing to watch,” Robert pointed out, “and it really put the hook in me.”
Robert, who also studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York City under Tara Bolds, soon found himself standing face-to-face with casting directors, filmmakers and producers on a series of auditions that would eventually land him his first job that would fly him to Hollywood. Three months under contract with Warner Bros. and a supporting role in a film called Moving, starring legendary comedian Richard Pryor, marked the beginning of a film and television career that has spanned three decades.