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Exclusive: Four Nominees Talk Tony

With the Tony Awards taking place Sunday, June 13, 2010, the Broadway award season will be over -- so nominees Valerie Harper, Jude Law, Montego Glover and Eddie Redmayne spoke about their expectations and insights, both in their respective shows and in the season in general.

And this season has a few wrinkles. For the musicals, it has been the overwhelming impact of pop music on Broadway's new productions, and that has made for a very different sound to be judged. And for dramatic works, the necessity of casting seasoned film and television actors as leads or featured players to draw in audiences has re-shaped the nominee pool.

So, with this night almost upon us, here's a quartet of short interviews garnered from stars nominated for various awards in both the musical and dramatic categories.

• Valerie Harper: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play | Looped

Q: What were the particular challenges of doing this show?

VH: Tallulah Bankhead's a real person and an extravagantly bombastic, huge, big personality with an extremely affected way of speaking. So to make her a real human being -- that was a challenge, especially because she's been imitated so much -- for so many years, by so many. So that was the key, and I had wonderful help in a piece of tape that was from an actual looping section.

It's about a looping session, and there is a piece of tape that somebody has of the looping session, 45 minutes, probably unbeknown to Tallulah. It's great because she's yelling at the director, schmoozing with the crew; she's living. "Hand me my purse darling."

But she's in life, not a performance. There are tons of performances; there are 46 entries over at the Paley Media. And watching her do The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour is helpful, but it is not the same as hearing her in life, and that was helpful.

Q: Is it frustrating to be talking about a show that's closed?

VH: No, not at all. We're doing 10 weeks in Toronto, and the tour's not set up yet. But there's probably going to be a national tour with me in it. But since we've closed in New York,you'll have to tell people to see it in another city.

Q: When you go and reflect on another actor or actress's life that you're playing, what do you learn about yourself as an actress?

VH: I learned what a hard worker she was. She did 50 plays in her lifetime, and she picked this party girl thing that she liked to put out there. My mom used to listen to [the 1950s NBC radio program] The Big Show.

Q: It's amazing that you have such energy. Where does it come from?

VH: I don't know; 70 is the new 40. I eat well, exercise and live with this wonderful man who's so healthy. I would be much tubbier than I am if he weren't the food police. I have to sneak stuff.

Q: Also when you're in a relationship, it helps.

VH: Exactly. And Tony is the lead producer of Looped. So this nomination is so lovely for him and for everybody I worked with.

• Eddie Redmayne: Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play | Red

Q: Did you expect that this was going to kick in like this?

ER: Absolutely no. I read this play about a year ago. I had a meeting with Michael Grandage, who, in London, is one of the great directors of this generation. It was just a general meeting, and he said, "I wanted to meet you for a general, but here is a script that arrived in our office a couple of weeks ago and I'd like to do it."

I read it, and it was about everything that I'm interested in -- it's about the arts, the arts mattering. I studied art history at university, so it was one of those dream jobs that appeared. And then when I was told Fred [Molino] was doing it, it was properly the stuff that dreams are made of.

I'm a pessimist, so at each step I was like, "Well, clearly this play is wonderful; clearly rehearsals are going to be a nightmare." Rehearsals were joyous. I was like, "We're not going to be able to prime the canvases and look like proper artists," and [yet] we did. And then I was like, "Well then reviewers are going to hate it." And they didn't.

When they started talking about Broadway, I started going, "Of course they'll get an American actor." So at each step it's been this thing that's kept going, and it's been really dumbfounding for me. And the fact that it's something I'm really proud of, so I'm pleased to be a part of it.

Q: Do you find a difference between American and British audiences?

ER: Absolutely. The play is written by an American playwright, John Logan, and it's a New York play about a New York artist. What was so extraordinary when we brought it here was the moment when I came downstairs for the first gypsy run -- which was a terrifying event in which all the other actors from all the other shows are there -- so it's a trial by fire.

But outside you would hear the sirens of the police cars firing through, and consequently it felt like this New York play was in the fabric of the city. You really felt like it belongs here. Also the audiences, they just get it more in the sense that they know the Four Seasons, they know the Seagram Building. They understand the references. So many people here have met Mark Rothko or worked with his assistants, so it's been a real sense of the community.

Q: Does this make you want to move to New York for the rest of your life?

ER: I've been lucky to work here. I shot a film called The Good Shepherd here a couple of years ago, so that was seeing it through the film side. And seeing it through the theater side has been wonderful.

I love living in the city. What's interesting about the actor life is it's incredibly nomadic, and whether I end up living here or spending a lot of time here, it's certainly a city where I feel I have a wonderful time when I'm here.

Q: Has the show transformed you in any way?

ER: I'm not sure it's transformed me, but it's wonderful to be able to do something that you really care about every night. Often with jobs, whether they're for theater or film work, it's very rare that you find yourself really believing in the words you're saying. So it's a wonderful thing. I'm not sure if it's transformed me; it's made me very happy.

Next page>> Montego Glover and Jude Law

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