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This story first appeared in the Dec. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
I first met Mike Nichols when I went to read with Jeremy Irons for The Real Thing in 1983.
We sat at a table, and we read, and right at the end of the reading, he said, “Well, I think you should do this part.” So that was fantastic. And then I proceeded to have one of the great experiences of my career. He gave Jeremy and me a wonderful direction: “If you ever get lost, just drown in each other’s eyes …”
There was also a day in rehearsals when we were having trouble with the second act, and he came in to say, “I know what’s wrong — the furniture’s in the wrong place.” And he was right. He reconfigured the furniture, and everything fell into place.
I remember the day he told me, “Just bring your day along with you.” I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” So in the play, when [my character] entered with a bag of groceries, my preparation became imagining her parking the car, locking it, walking up the stairs. That’s one of the fascinating aspects of theater — the variables are different every day: We’ve all had different days, and if you can just incorporate that and live in the moment, you are off and running for the next two and a half hours.
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We had lunch two weeks ago, a gathering of the women from the original Real Thing — Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, and Whoopi Goldberg came, too — and he was talking about how luck has a lot to do with one’s life. For someone like Mike to say that! For somebody so incredibly sophisticated and brilliant. The last thing he wrote to me — two days after we had lunch — was so touching: He wrote, “Love is the key.”
Read more from THR‘s tribute to Mike Nichols:
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