All the celebrities who have starred in 'Uncle Vanya,' including Steve Carell

The award-winning actor, best known for starring in The Office, is the latest person to tackle the coveted title role of Chekhov's classic family drama.

Billy McEntee
Billy McEntee

As the star of The Office, Steve Carell may be known for his comedic chops, but the roles he's played since that show’s Emmy Award-winning run have shown he can do so much more. He earned an Oscar nomination for playing a maniacal wrestling coach in Foxcatcher, played the father of a drug addict (played by Timothée Chalamet) in Beautiful Boy, and now makes his Broadway debut in the title role in Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

On Broadway, in London's West End, and beyond, Uncle Vanya has attracted scores of prominent actors. In addition to Carell, the star-studded cast features Jonathan Hadary (Veep), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place), Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans), Mia Katigbak (How to Get Away with Murder), Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2), and Allison Pill (The Newsroom). They play the many visitors traveling to a rural Russian estate, which Vanya tends to with his niece. There, the characters fall in and out of love, and hearts break and generations collide in this timeless tale.

At Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, Carell joins a long lineage of big names who have portrayed the charming, melancholic, and yearning uncle. Get to know some of those stars below, and see the latest crop of stars on stage in Uncle Vanya through June 16.

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Steve Carell

Best known as Michael Scott on The Office, Steve Carell takes on the famed avuncular role in the 2024 Broadway production, directed by Lila Neugebauer and featuring a script translated by Pulitzer Prize finalist Heidi Schreck (What the Constitution Means to Me).

Chekhov may be regarded as a serious playwright, but his works are infused with colorful humor and looks at real people in all their funny contradictions and distinct personalities, which feels reminiscent of the keen and observational humor on The Office. Of course, Uncle Vanya is not a workplace sitcom, but Carell, always attuned to his co-stars’ peculiarities, surely brings a special wisdom and sensibility to this leading role.

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Andrew Scott

He’s the Hot Priest on Fleabag, the star of All of Us Strangers, and the title role in Netflix’s Ripley: Andrew Scott is one of Hollywood’s fastest-rising stars right now. Before and during his big-screen fame, he also tackled many stage roles, including Vanya. Scott made his West End debut in 2023 in Vanya, a one-man adaptation of Chekhov’s play. He played all eight roles and was hailed as "truly remarkable" by London Theatre.

Reed Birney

Reed Birney is a perennial guest actor on TV, appearing on shows from High Maintenance to Succession. Also a theatre stalwart, Birney was in a major 2012 Off-Broadway revival of Uncle Vanya. Annie Baker, a Pulitzer Prize winner for the play The Flick, wrote that adaptation, which played at Soho Rep.

A New York Times review reads, "The indispensable Reed Birney is as vitally moving a Vanya as I’ve yet to see.” He was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Uncle Vanya. Birney later won a Tony Award for appearing in The Humans on Broadway, as did his onstage wife, Jayne Houdyshell. She appears in the current Lincoln Center Theatre revival of Uncle Vanya.

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Richard Roxburgh

Sydney Theatre Award winner Richard Roxburgh appeared in a starry staging of Uncle Vanya that also featured Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving. Roxburgh has appeared in dozens of films, including Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! and Elvis, but he has long been an Australian theatre mainstay. On TV, he’s guest starred on The Crown, Rake, and Catherine the Great.

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Simon Russell Beale

When The Independent calls you “the greatest stage actor of his generation,” you’re sure to have some plum Chekhov roles under your belt. Simon Russell Beale is the winner of two BAFTA Awards, three Olivier Awards, and a Tony Award — and for his services to drama, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 2019.

Throughout his illustrious career, he played Konstantin in Chekhov's The Seagull and, of course, Vanya in Uncle Vanya in a 2002 West End revival, for which he won his most recent Olivier Award. He was most recently seen on Broadway in the Tony-winning play The Lehman Trilogy.

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Derek Jacobi

Derek Jacobi starred alongside Amy Ryan and Laura Linney in the 2000 Broadway revival of Uncle Vanya, and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his dedication to the arts. A great Shakespearean actor, Jacobi is also recognizable to TV audiences for his Emmy Award-winning guest role on Frasier or to film fans for his Screen Actor Guild Award-winning turn in The King’s Speech.

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Toby Jones

Providing the voice of Dobby in the Harry Potter films, Toby Jones is also a beloved stage actor, winning an Olivier Award in 2002 and receiving a nomination for playing Vanya in a 2020 adaptation at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End. Beyond the stage, he is also known for his roles on Doctor Who, Frost/Nixon, and The Girl, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination.

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Michael Redgrave

The father to Vanessa Redgrave, Corin Redgrave, and Lynn Redgrave, Michael Redgrave was an Oscar-nominated actor for his role in Mourning Becomes Electra. With a career spanning five decades, Redgrave is one of Great Britain’s most acclaimed actors, and he appeared in Uncle Vanya at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1962, directed by Laurence Olivier. A filmed version preserves Redgrave’s performance and that production, which also starred Olivier and Rosemary Harris.

Ralph Richardson

A stage icon, Ralph Richardson was one of the most prolific theatre stars of 20th-century England. Richardson, John Gielgud, and Laurence Olivier were known as a holy trinity of English theatre, and, with Olivier, Richardson appeared in Uncle Vanya in London in 1945.

The Times said his acting was “the perfect compound of absurdity and pathos,” and the company then took that production to New York in 1946, making Richardson the first person to play the role on Broadway. He paved the way for Carell and so many other Vanyas.

Get Uncle Vanya tickets now.

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Top image credit: Steve Carell. (Photo by Alex J. Berliner - AB Images for Universal Pictures)

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