Three Great Things: Thomas Haden Church

The Oscar-nominated actor, who's currently starring in Accidental Texan, shares what brings him the most joy in life.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the March 8 release in theaters of the crowd-pleasing drama Accidental Texan, starring Thomas Haden Church, Rudy Pankow, Carrie-Ann Moss and Bruce Dern, the Emmy-winning and Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated actor shared some of the things he loves the most in his life. — N.D.

Visiting My Ranch
I love going to my ranch every day, just driving through it, making sure my cattle are all still alive and checking the various wells and ponds. The entrance is three-and-a-half miles from the headquarters, so even just driving through the ranch is a small adventure every single time. I’ve had it for 25 years, so at this point I’ve driven in and out of that ranch many thousands of times. It’s just beautiful, and you never know what kind of wildlife you’re going to see. The area around the headquarters is absolutely gorgeous, especially now it’s starting to get green. There’s my barn and two houses, and everything’s painted white and the grounds are green. The live oaks will start shedding their leaves in March, which is really beautiful.

I’m so blessed to have had my ranch these past 25 years, and I can’t drive through it without being flooded with memories of all the experiences I’ve had there with friends, family and coworkers. When I first bought the ranch, my business partner at the time went with me to an auction to pick out the first cows we were going to have on the ranch. We put the cattle in two trailers and then took them back to the ranch. It was night by the time we unloaded the trailers. Once we were done, he drove home and I went on to the headquarters to go to bed. I remember as I was driving away, I looked back and saw all the cows just kind of watching me, lit up by the tail lights from the truck and the trailer. In that moment, at 39 years old, I realized my lifelong dream to be a cattle rancher, which I’d wanted to be since I first went out with my dad on a ranch when I was eight or nine years old. That’s a very cherished memory.

Picking Up My Daughter From School
I love picking my younger daughter up at school, and it’s exhilarating to get to see her and hear about her day. (My older daughter is studying at Savannah College and I also love getting phone calls from her, updating me on how she’s doing.) My younger daughter is about to turn 15 and she’s kind of a goth – her hair is black, her nails are black and she likes to dress in black. But the thing that’s hilarious about her is, she doesn’t have the personality of a goth chick, because she’s just so bright and excited and can’t wait to tell me about her day, about what she’s reading and learning. She’s involved in a production of Macbeth at the moment, so she’s excited about Shakespeare.

Her mother drops her off in the mornings and I pick her up in the afternoon. I really love that routine. I’ve been picking up one or both of my daughters from school for the past 15 years, and I used to go and have lunch with them every day when they went to the same school. They’re five years apart in age, so right now my daughter Cody is a junior in college and my younger daughter’s a freshman in high school. When I used to pick them up together, I got so much joy from just seeing them come out of school and how excited they were to see me, jumping in the truck and both of them wanting to tell me about their day. Of course, Cody would always veto my younger daughter, like, “Hang on, I get to tell him my adventures first,” saying who she was mad at or who was mad at her, or telling me what teacher said she did a great job. Cody really loves the part where she gets to tell me she has straight A’s!

My Wife, Myriam
My last choice has to be my wife, Myriam. I just enjoy being with her. Our days are often spent apart – she does what she does, and I go off to the ranch or do my business work – but we get together for supper every night and go through our days. She’s French Canadian, so a lot of times, I’ll show up for supper and she’s embroiled in French conversations with her mother or brothers or other family members. I enjoy listening to her still be a part of their lives in Montreal. Her family only speaks French and my French is basically non-existent, which is crazy because we’ve been together for 12 years. My Spanish is also terrible, too, even though I grew up on the Mexican border and have been there pretty much my whole life.

Myriam is unwaveringly poised and a very good listener. And everyone who’s met her will agree she is, seemingly without even trying, an incredibly elegant person. Her father, who was Egyptian, was a documentarian in Canada, and her mother is French Canadian and was primarily a homemaker. Her whole family have this very elegant, very poised manner; they are well-mannered, sophisticated people for whom education was the absolute pinnacle of achievement as young people. It was so important to her parents that Myriam and her brothers get a really good education; they went to private school during their formative years and then all got degrees. One of her brothers is a filmmaker and the other one’s an attorney.

She was a wardrobe designer when I met her, working on a film in Canada. I didn’t understand why such a quiet, elegant, poised person (totally the opposite of me!) wanted to throw her hat in the ring with a rough-around-the-edges Texan rancher. But I think us being so different is why our relationship works so well. When we met, we had the commonality of being film professionals in a work setting; first a friendship developed and then a romance blossomed. And now she’s with me for all times.

Thomas Haden Church is currently starring in the feelgood movie Accidental Texan, opposite Rudy Pankow, Carrie-Ann Moss and Bruce Dern, which will be in theaters from March 8. He was recently seen in Peacock’s series Twisted Metal, also starring Anthony Mackie, and in the independent break-out hit Peanut Butter Falcon, with Shia LeBeouf, Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern. He starred opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in all three seasons of HBO’s Divorce, and had standout movie roles in William Friedkin’s critically acclaimed crime thriller Killer Joe, opposite Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsh, Juno Temple and Gina Gershon; the hit teen comedy Easy A, co-starring opposite Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley and Patrica Clarkson; and Spider-Man 3, in which he played the villain Sandman, aka Flint Marko. In 2004, Church gave a career-defining performance opposite Paul Giamatti in Alexander Payne’s critically acclaimed Sideways, earning an Academy Award nomination, plus an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor. Church co-wrote and directed the film Rolling Kansas, which premiered as an official selection to the Sundance Film Festival in 2003. Church resides on his ranch in Texas. (Photo by Jalisco Wayne, courtesy Roadside Attractions.)