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

Long Day's Journey Into Night Getty H 2016
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Long Day's Journey Into Night Getty H 2016

How does Lange unwind after such long and emotionally demanding shows? "With a little bit of morphine," she joked.

In Long Day's Journey Into Night, Jessica Lange is onstage once again as morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone, a role she played in London 16 years ago.

"To tell you the honest truth, it was so long ago, I don't remember all that much what we did!" she told The Hollywood Reporter after the opening-night performance at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. "And as soon as we started working on this, it completely superseded any memory that I had." Yet this time around, "there's a lot more loss, longing and loneliness in one's life — everything that she's haunted by."

Lange stars opposite Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon and John Gallagher Jr. as the tortured souls of the Tyrone family, a clan flooded with money problems, illness and loss.

"It's a universal portrait of a family and the duality of loving and hating the people you're in such close contact with," said director Jonathan Kent. "My family couldn't be more different from this, and yet I recognize so much of it — we all do."

The intimate Eugene O'Neill epic — first produced in 1956, three years after his death — lasers in on the gloomy insularity of characters representing the playwright's own unhappy family.

"Because he was a great artist, it transcends his own family, and it goes beyond languages or borders of time and fashion, because the themes are perennial," said Byrne. At the same time, Shannon noted, "What's very moving about it is he wrote such a vivid portrait of his brother, despite the fact that they were not close toward the end of Jamie's life. This play is like an homage to his brother."

After the opening-night performance — which clocks in at three hours and 45 minutes and was attended by Jessica Chastain, Blythe Danner, Nathan Lane, Olympia Dukakis and Laura Osnes — Lange was visited backstage by American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy (also the play's associate producer) and onscreen co-star Sarah Paulson.

How does Lange unwind after such long and emotionally demanding shows? Usually, "with a little bit of morphine," she joked, settling instead for the packed afterparty at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill next door.