Interview with Tony winner John Gallagher, Jr.
Tony winner John Gallagher, Jr. can currently be seen as Edmond Tyrone in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre.
John won his Tony Award in 2007 for his portrayal of Moritz in the Broadway premiere of Spring Awakening. Other Broadway credits include Jerusalem, Rabbit Hole and Green Day's American Idiot. He has also appeared off-Broadway in the Manhattan Theatre Club productions of Kimberly Akimbo and Current Events, as well as the Atlantic Theater Company productions of Farragut North and Port Authority.
His most notable screen credits include 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Newsroom, Hush, Short Term 12 and DC Comics' Jonah Hex.
We caught up with John to talk about bonding with co-star Michael Shannon and developing that devastating cough...
Thomas Hayden Millward: How has the whole process been for you so far working with such a talented ensemble of actors and with such a reputable organisation like the Roundabout Theatre Company?
John Gallagher, Jr.: It’s been incredibly humbling and inspiring to work on what is arguably THE great American play – Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night.’ It’s been a perfect storm working with Roundabout and this company and with our director Jonathan [Kent]. To go out on stage with this team every night is an incredible honour! I feel so fortunate as a performer to have been invited into this world.
THM: And may I say you have the most incredible cough on stage!
JGJ: (Laughs) Oh, thank you! Yes, I had to find that during rehearsals and figure out how to maintain that without cracking a rib.
THM: Oh, are you doing yourself permanent damage?
JGJ: We’ll find out after it closes, when I go and visit my doctor and see if I’ve developed any complications from it. I just like to tell people that I am gonna have an amazing six-pack by the time the play is over because of the abdominal workout of all the coughing. That remains to be seen though.
THM: There you go. Every cloud has a silver lining.
THM: Can I ask you about Michael Shannon? How did you two go about creating such a touching and yet complex brotherly relationship on stage?
JGJ: We kinda hit it off very quickly. We have kindred spirits and we were both drawn to the play for very similar reasons. We went out and did a little “research,” as we called it. We went out and had dinner and a few drinks. We talked about life and talked about the play – about what we liked about the play and what we liked about the writing. We just kinda got it. It was something that came very naturally to us. I love being on stage with him. He’s an unbelievable actor. He’s so, so talented and so generous and giving. I look forward to our scene every night.
THM: What do you think makes this play stand the test of time?
JGJ: I think that a good play is timeless. I think that if you write the truth – and there are so many emotional and universal truths in this play – that will not be worn down by the sands of time. It will only get richer the more it gets excavated. I think this play just has all these timeless truths about family, love, pain, addiction, emotional support and so many things that are just universal and human. People recognise that. Even if you don’t have a family exactly like the Tyrones, we all have a family one way or another and there is so much to relate to in that beautiful writing.
THM: That’s so true. When I watched the play, I kept thinking about a particular friend and what she is going through with her family at the moment. They will be producing this play in a hundred years’ time.
JGJ: They will! This play is not going anywhere. That’s the beauty and the brilliance of it. It feels as if it could’ve been written yesterday, despite the fact that here we are years and years later dusting it off and discovering that it is just as potent and powerful as ever.