Tony Awards: Steve Martin, Sara Bareilles, Jessica Lange Among Hollywood Names With Nominations

8:02 AM 5/3/2016

by Ashley Lee

Danielle Brooks, Michael Shannon, Lupita Nyong'o and Julian Fellowes are among the familiar onscreen faces applauded for their contributions onstage.

Sara Bareilles, Steve Martin, Danielle Brooks and Michael Shannon
Sara Bareilles, Steve Martin, Danielle Brooks and Michael Shannon
Getty Images

When Andrew Rannells and Nikki M. James announced this year's Tony Awards nominations, Hollywood names like Steve Martin, Sara Bareilles, Danielle Brooks, Michelle Williams, Jessica Lange and Michael Shannon nabbed their first nods from the Broadway community.

This season, Hamilton leads the race with a historic 16 nominations, followed by Shuffle Along with ten and She Loves Me with eight. Long Day's Journey Into Night nabbed seven nominations, making it the most nominated play.

Honoring the best of the Broadway season, the awards will be handed out in a June 12 ceremony at 8 p.m., airing live on CBS (tape-delayed on the West Coast) from New York City's Beacon Theatre. James Corden will make his debut as the annual event's emcee.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with a handful of the nominees. See below for Martin's politically-minded strategy, Bareilles' breakfast menu and Brooks' wise advice from her Orange Is the New Black castmate.

Read more List of nomineesWho got snubbed? | Hamilton makes history

  • Steve Martin and Edie Brickell

    'Bright Star'

    Getty Images

    "Congratulations to you that you get to talk to two Tony nominees!" joked Steve Martin to THR, upon receiving his first Tony nomination for penning the book for Bright Star. He's also nominated for the show's score with Edie Brickell who, at the time of the announcement, "was doing a super hard yoga DVD, trying to right my mind no matter what was to come." Martin found himself awake at 4 a.m. and therefore watched the online webcast, but that kept cutting out. "I missed the actual announcement, and then my agent texted me, 'Yes!' I don’t think he would have texted me that if we weren’t nominated, right?"

    The frequent collaborators expressed their joy and "familial devotion" to their cast. "Usually, if you get an award, you're happy for yourself, but my Protestant upbringing doesn't allow me to feel joy about it, to feel good about it. But this, you can actually feel good for other people!" laughed Martin. "I feel good for Edie, our show, that their work wasn't in vain." Today, Brickell will celebrate by catching the evening's performance. Meanwhile, Martin said, "I'm gonna write negative attack ads on the other musicals! I mean, I learned it from what's going on in politics."

    Read more Steve Martin Celebrates Bluegrass Broadway Musical 'Bright Star' With Banjo Performance

  • Sara Bareilles

    'Waitress'

    Getty Images

    Sara Bareilles received her first Tony nomination for penning the music and lyrics for Waitress. "I was watching the webcast – I wasn’t intending to, but I must have subconsciously been very excited so I woke up," she told THR. "It was so fun. I won't forget this moment of just being here, in my relatively new home of New York, sipping my coffee. This whole journey has been remarkable and life-changing." Though she's been nominated for Grammys over the years, this Tony nomination feels different. "Theater is so deeply collaborative, and it feels extra sweet to be acknowledged because we're all sharing this moment together."

    Today is a busy day for Bareilles, as the ensemble continues their cast album recording in the studio. Beforehand, she's enjoying breakfast from The Butcher's Daughter (a special gift from her manager) and yoga with a friend. "I texted my family but they're on the West Coast -- they're still sleeping!"

    Read more Sara Bareilles Celebrates 'Waitress', Broadway's First Musical From All-Female Creative Team

  • Danielle Brooks

    'The Color Purple'

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

    Best known as Taystee in Orange Is the New Black, Danielle Brooks earned her first Tony nomination for playing the fiercely independent Sofia, the juicy role patented onscreen by Oprah Winfrey. "Whatever is above the clouds, that's what I feel right now. The words that never get old are being grateful and blessed. I've just been crying all morning," she told THR while getting tearful again. "I'm so thrilled for my cast as a whole. It's been a lot of work doing both Orange and Color Purple and to see it pay off in a way you weren't expecting, it's so humbling. ... This was the first Broadway show I saw, the first time I realized I could do this on a larger scale, and I never in ten years thought it would lead me to my first Tony nomination."

    Brooks admitted she couldn't sleep last night, and started cleaning her house at 6 a.m. to pass the time. She tried calling her dad, who was watching the nominations announcement live, but it was too overwhelming. Instead, she tuned into Today, where Cynthia Erivo and the Color Purple cast were performing. "Suddenly I saw a flood of notifications on my phone, and that's when I knew," she recalled. "I put my parents on a three-way call, and my mother is a schoolteacher and had all her students say congratulations. Then my best friend, who's also in the show, Facetimed me and I got to see the entire cast. It was just a beautiful moment."

    Uzo Aduba was the first Orange castmate to reach out. "She imparted wisdom to me: 'It's okay to enjoy it. Be okay with celebrating.'"

    Read more Jennifer Hudson, Danielle Brooks Fete the Bright and Dark Sides of Broadway's 'The Color Purple'

  • Jessica Lange

    'Long Day's Journey Into Night'

    Joan Marcus

    Jessica Lange — who has won Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmys — earned her first Tony nomination for Long Day's Journey Into Night in a role she first played 16 years ago. "This all started over dinner one night when I just happened to mentioned how much I'd love to play Mary Tyrone again, that it was my favorite role I ever did, and how much I'd still love to do it again," she told THR. "It's always such an honor to be nominated, whether for an Emmy or an Oscar, but this feels like something I've worked toward for a very, very long time. To finally get a Tony nomination, and especially for this part, and for this play, it's somehow very special."

    Lange didn't watch the nominations announcement live — "I can never do that, it makes me way too anxious," she said — but learned of her recognition from a flood of text messages. She's since been navigating congratulatory messages, but for the rest of the day, "I'll be napping, like I usually do before a performance! My life isn't terribly thrilling outside going to the theater," she said of the production, spanning close to four hours. "It's such a huge play and you cover so much territory, and it's so emotional. So mostly, I like to sleep."

    Read more Jessica Lange, Michael Shannon Revere Eugene O'Neill at Broadway Opening of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'

  • Mark Strong

    'A View From the Bridge'

    Courtesy of Jan Verswayveld

    For Mark Strong, the day he received his first Tony nomination was also the first day of shooting the Kingsman sequel. "[The announcement] slipped my mind, to be honest. Suddenly, around lunchtime, I started getting lots of emails and texts from my friends, families and reps," he told THR from London of playing Eddie Carbone in the Arthur Miller play. He immediately contacted his cast members of View From the Bridge, also nominated for best revival. "We sent emails with lots of exclamation points."

    For Strong, "it's extra special because I'm a British actor coming over to Broadway, doing a play set in New York, written by a man born in Brooklyn. It's beyond my wildest dreams. It's something I really wasn't expecting when I agreed two years ago to do a short, eight-week run at the Young Vic — we had no idea it'd have a life beyond that small space." Already excited to return to the states for the ceremony in June, "tonight, I'll have a quiet glass of wine — maybe even champagne — with my wife."

  • Renee Elise Goldsberry

    'Hamilton'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    Hamilton actress Renee Elise Goldsberry had a winning strategy for the nominations announcement. "I woke my daughter up to watch with me, so I'd have joy regardless. We were very happy in our bed this morning," she told THR. The Hamilton actress has been flooded with congratulatory texts from family and friends since she learned of her nomination, as well as those of fellow castmates Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among many others. "I actually am amazed at how much better friends I have than I've actually been to people — I'm blown away by how many people woke up this morning to see my name. That moved me greatly. I'll definitely be a better friend in the future to those in this moment. I'll wake up and watch, and even if they're not nominated, I'll text them with how proud I am of them. In this process, I've learned a lot about how to support people. There's a lot of love out there."

    Goldsberry, who earlier had a recurring arc on The Good Wife, admitted she previously had a bad habit of telling people they deserve a Tony nomination, even if their show is the only one she's seen. "It's a horrible thing to do to people!" she laughed, since she's been told the same throughout the year, and though she's appreciated the compliment, she didn't want to get ahead of herself. But now that she has been nominated, "This is the best day ever — I am going to stay home. [Before tonight's show,] there's nothing I have to do to today but say thank you and God is good."

  • Michelle Williams

    'Blackbird'

    Brigitte Lacombe

    Michelle Williams didn't watch the nominations announcement because she was dropping off her daughter at school. "My phone started going crazy," she recalled to THR. She then emailed co-star and fellow Tony nominee Jeff Daniels: "We've seen each other through the tough times — which is doing this play — and it'll be nice to share a warm, happy hug."

    In contrast to film and TV awards, where "you're often very aware of a campaign," Williams is thrilled about the Tony nomination because of her character, who reunites with the man with whom she was in a sexual relationship when she was just 12 (and he was 40). "What's so great about this is I can help give a voice to somebody, to say 'This is what it's like 15 years later, this is how long abuse lives on, when someone is irrevocably damaged by what happened to her as a child,'" she explained. "People come up after a show with a certain look in their eyes that says, 'I've been there,' and [some] have been brave enough and sweet enough to say so. For just one of those interactions, it's worth it to have spent the last six months on this show."

    She doesn't plan to particularly celebrate; rather, "I'm gonna go to work, down to that beautiful stage at the Belasco, do my warm up and continue to work on the play, to try to make it more real, true and alive."

  • Julian Fellowes

    'School of Rock - The Musical'

    Brad Barket/Getty Images

    The Downton Abbey creator earned his first Tony nomination for penning the book for School of Rock — The Musical. "It's only my second musical, and it was terribly exciting to be nominated," Fellowes, who also worked on the 2006 adaptation of Mary Poppins, told THR from London. "A nomination is a win to me. It's thrilling to be recognized in a new arena — I've gotten awards for film and television before now, but this is the first award I've had for the stage. It makes me feel like an all-'rounder."

    "I love this show. It's very positive and warm and, like the original film, it does send a good message to kids not to be afraid of who they are. I'm very proud of it," added Fellowes, who heard the news from his agent, and looks forward to celebrating with his wife. So far, he's touched base with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater, but is trying to congratulate lead actor Alex Brightman. "I just realized I haven't gotten his email – I just asked for it!"

  • Danai Gurira

    'Eclipsed'

    Jemal Countess/Getty Images

    The Eclipsed playwright was peacefully joyous when she heard about the show's nominations. "I never imagined when I was on a little tiny plane between Ghana and Monrovia that this would be a day that would come. I was scared out of my mind and pretty close to broke, but all I knew was I had to get these narratives out, I just had to," she told THR, thanking the Liberian women on which the play is based, as well as the many actors and directors who have staged the show all over the world, over the years. "How do we make sure this is a true platform for the girls who are still living through hell? We want to give them as much attention with the time we have. We need to hear about them so we can respond as a global community."

    The Walking Dead actress also thanked Bono, who attended the show over the weekend. "He says, 'It's always impossible until it's done.' I hope and pray that this encourages other writers out there," she said before heading back to Atlanta tonight. "Our purpose is to pursue the narrative and stand by it. Get it done, get to the finish line with it, and the champions of your work will appear. A lot of women writers come to me with that fear – I do most of what I do scared, but I do it anyway, because it's about something bigger than you. The responsibility in writing is other people get blessed when you see it through."

  • Megan Hilty

    'Noises Off'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    After her beloved lead role onscreen in Smash, Megan Hilty returned to Broadway and stood out from the ensemble with her clueless character in Noises Off. She nabbed her first Tony nomination on the same day she begins a two-week stint at New York City's Cafe Carlyle, and as her new live album hits shelves.

    "This is insane!!! And SO exciting!!!" she tweeted while readying for the residency's rehearsals. "Thank you Tony Awards for all the Noises Off love!!! And congratulations to all the nominees!"

  • Laura Benanti

    'She Loves Me'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    In the romantic musical She Loves Me, Laura Benanti plays the comical Amalia, who finds herself quarreling with her parfumerie co-worker who is also, unknowingly, the sender of her love letters.

    Fittingly, when the actress of Nashville and Supergirl — who previously won the featured actress Tony for her performance in Gypsy and was nominated for Swing!, Into the Woods and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown — nabbed her first nomination as a leading lady, she sent THR a concise but colorful email on the matter: "Here is my reaction to being nominated in the leading actress category for the first time. ..... YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! And then a bunch of emojis."

  • Michael Shannon

    'Long Day's Journey Into Night'

    Joan Marcus

    The seasoned character actor has nabbed his first Tony nomination for his featured role in the revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. He plays the dangerously unpredictable Jamie Tyrone, the unrepentantly cynical eldest son, a failed actor turned dissolute Broadway loafer.

    "I am very honored, although I can only accept so much credit," he said in a statement. "I am playing one of the most exquisitely written roles in the history of American drama."

    Read more Rapid Round: Michael Shannon Talks Playing Elvis Presley, Admiring Jessica Lange's "Sword" (Q&A)

  • Lupita Nyong'o

    'Eclipsed'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    Lupita Nyong'o earned her first Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in the play following five women enduring the dehumanizing oppression of the Second Liberian Civil War. "I am deeply proud to be nominated for my work in the Danai Gurira's Tony-nominated Eclipsed," she said in a statement. "My performance could not exist without the brilliance of my iron-clad co-stars Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah, and Saycon Sengbloh, with the direction of Liesl Tommy."

    Nyong'o plays a character identified only as the Girl, the youngest of four captive "wives" of a rebel warlord fighting to overthrow Charles Taylor's dictatorial government in 2003. She first understudied in the Yale Rep production while she was at Yale School of Drama. Now, on Broadway, "our hope is to awaken something in the consciousness of our audience to affect change around the world," she said. "The six Tony nominations Eclipsed has received today gives me hope that we are succeeding.”

  • Zachary Levi

    'She Loves Me'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    Alongside fellow nominees Jane Krakowski and Laura Benanti, the actor of Chuck and Tangled nabbed his first Tony nomination for his leading role in the revival of the musical-comedy, as the charming and confident head clerk Georg who unknowingly gets romantically involved with Amalia.

    "Every time I try to find the words to describe how I'm feeling right now, I fail. This is all so unbelievably surreal. I'm gobsmacked. I'm honored. I'm humbled. I still don't totally believe it's real," he said in a statement. "The men I'm nominated with are so insanely talented. As are all the nominees, and EVERYONE at She Loves Me. I'm so thrilled for Laura and Jane, and everyone in our show family. It takes every single one of us to make this show what it is. A show that now itself is nominated as being one of the best. Wow. What a journey it's been. I'm so grateful. You just can't write this stuff."

  • Andrea Martin

    'Noises Off'

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    The seasoned stage actress — also of SCTV and the My Big Fat Greek Wedding films — nabbed another nomination for her role in the revival of Michael Frayn's ingenious 1982 farce about the challenges of staging a farce. "I am shocked, thrilled and giddy and at the same time, well aware, that I wouldn't have this nomination if I had not been part of an expertly gifted ensemble," she said of playing Dotty Otley, a long-running soap star who considers herself a grande dame of the stage. "So proud to represent our show and be included in the legacy that is Noises Off."

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