Interview with Hillary and Clinton star Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf might well be considered the modern day Queen of the straight Broadway play. She is currently relishing her sixth Tony Award nomination for her performance as Hillary in the Broadway premiere of Lucas Hnath's Hillary and Clinton at the Golden Theatre; a venue which has been quite the good luck charm for Ms. Metcalf. She collaborated with Hnath two seasons ago, starring as Nora in his hit comedy A Doll's House, Part 2 there, leading to her first Tony Award win, and just last season she picked up her second consecutive Tony win for her performance in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at the Golden. They say everything comes in threes...
Although she is known to a wider audience for her three-time Emmy Award-winning TV role as Jackie Harris on ABC's "Roseanne" and its current spin-off "The Conners" and perhaps her Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as Marion McPherson opposite Saorise Ronan in "Lady Bird," to us, she'll simply be regarded as a top Broadway player. And we're thrilled she's already been cast in next season's Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - her fifth consecutive season on the Great White Way!
We'd like to encourage you to experience this truly gifted stage performer in person and what better way than to see her theatrically spar with two-time Tony Award winner John Lithgow? These two stalwarts are taking on the roles of Hillary and Bill... but not quite as you know them...
We spoke to Ms. Metcalf to get the lowdown on her latest Broadway venture and this unique interpretation of the former First Lady of the United States...
Can you tell us a little bit about Lucas Hnath’s concept of setting Hillary and Clinton in an alternate universe?
Yes. It’s set in an alternate universe. We’re on a planet Earth slightly different from this planet Earth and so that gives us a licence to interpret the characters how we want. It’s myself and John Lithgow [as Hillary and Bill] and Barack Obama is also in the show, as is Mark Penn, Hillary’s campaign manager. It’s not set in 2016 like people might presume. It’s set in 2008, but it’s mostly about a marriage; their marriage. I think every audience member has some opinion about that marriage to a point and the playwright Lucas Hnath really explores what they go through behind closed doors. This is set in a hotel room in New Hampshire and it’s funny (laughs) which might be a surprise to people!
What was your initial reaction when first asked if you would like to play Hillary Clinton?
Well, I was hoping it wouldn’t be an impersonation of her because I can’t do impressions and that would’ve eliminated me right away. But because I knew I could attack it like I could any fictional character, there was more freedom working in that way. Then I just took my keys off the script itself.
And Lucas Hnath was quite insistent that he didn’t want to cast actors who actually looked like the real life characters. What was his intention behind that?
Right! I think it may have just looked like a sketch otherwise. The way we do it by just hinting at these people, I think the audience is sort of able to watch us go in and out of character in a way. They also bring their own perceptions to it.
You’re fast becoming Broadway royalty, Laurie. This is your sixth Tony Award nomination and possible third consecutive win! I’m guessing this never gets old, right?
(Laughs) No! It never gets old! And it will never get old. I know that for a fact. I’m so thankful for the recognition from the Tony committee and where else would a theatre rat like myself wanna be but on Broadway?!
Well, thank goodness you are a self-professed theatre rat, Laurie! And in closing, could you just tell our readers why you think they should take the time and make a trip to Hillary and Clinton?
Because it’s unpredictable. It’s very funny. It’s also got a lot of teeth to it though and it’s only 85 minutes long! (Laughs)
Hillary and Clinton Tickets are available now for performances through July 21, 2019.