Hollywood's Tony Nominees Sound Off: Screen or Stage?

8:30 AM 6/6/2019

by THR Staff

Theater's tough, but TV's "kind of weird," as contenders for Sunday's Broadway honors including Ruth Wilson, Laurie Metcalf and more reveal their preference.

Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

  • Ruth Wilson

    Featured Actress in a Play, 'King Lear'

    Monica Schipper/Getty Images

    "TV and film is about having patience. You have to switch it on, rather than three hours at time, a minute at a time. You go on, do your scene, and then go and sit in a trailer for two hours before you do your next scene. It's kind of weird. You have moments of being switched on and off. You have to learn that dynamic and that kind of rhythm, whereas theater takes a lot more focus on a long stretch." 

  • Santino Fontana

    Leading Actor in a Musical, 'Tootsie'

    Walter McBride/WireImage

    "The biggest difference is [onstage] you are telling the story from beginning to end, which is fantastic for an actor to get to do — because on a TV set or in a movie you're moment-to-momenting it, and you're hoping someone will edit it together. You're putting your performance in the hands of someone you don't know. Whereas onstage, there's nothing in between me and 1,600 strangers — and whatever's going to happen on that stage, I'm there and the creative team has entrusted our cast to do that. That's why I love it."

  • Laurie Metcalf

    Leading Actress in a Play, 'Hillary and Clinton'

    Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

    "It's a whole different animal. There's no comparison. I get into my routine here with the eight shows a week, and we have a much longer rehearsal period, of course. With film and TV, you're limited with the amount of rehearsal time that you actually get. I generally feel under-rehearsed working that way. But I love the luxury of having a lot of rehearsal. That's the big difference to me. Working live in front of a theater audience gives me an adrenaline boost that carries me through the show. I find it much harder to maintain my energy level on a movie or TV set because of the downtime between takes.

  • Celia Keenan-Bolger

    Featured Actress in a Play, 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    John Lamparski/Getty Images

    "On television and film sets, there's a lot of time in your trailer waiting and then you get to set, whereas in theater, there is that half-hour before, I'm just hanging out with Gideon Glick and Will Pullen in the dressing room and having chats before the show. I think that part of it, the sort of collaborative nature and the communal nature of it, definitely keeps me going."

  • Stephanie J. Block

    Leading Actress in a Musical, 'The Cher Show'

    Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

    "Every day it's a different schedule in theater. Every day it's a little bit of different self-care. I have the best partner in my husband Sebastian Arcelus. If I did not have him, I could not manage the balancing of motherhood and this beauty of awards season and still maintaining eight shows a week. You need a team, and I have a husband who acts as a team." 

    A version of this story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.