How Mark Strong’s Eight-Week London Run Led Him to a Tony Nomination

Tony Awards   How Mark Strong’s Eight-Week London Run Led Him to a Tony Nomination
 
Mark Strong’s return to the stage in A View From The Bridge exceeded his expectations. The stage and screen actor discusses how theatre is fulfilling in a way that film simply can’t be.
Mark Strong in <i>A View From the Bridge</i>
Mark Strong in A View From the Bridge Jan Versweyveld

Mark Strong could never have predicted that he’d be nominated for a Tony Award this year. When the actor decided to end his 12-year hiatus from the theatre by doing a smaller, eight-week revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge at the Young Vic Theatre in London, Broadway was the furthest thing from his mind. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams,” says Strong, who is up for a Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

“I had no idea when I first decided to do the job at the Young Vic two years ago that it would go to the West End, let alone Broadway and win me a nomination. It’s been an incredible journey to get to this point…I would never have imagined it coming about.”

Mark Strong
Mark Strong

“And the fact that it’s a New York play,” continues Strong of the Red Hook set drama. “To bring that play to New York was such an amazing experience.” The acclaimed revival, directed by Ivo van Hove, played the Lyceum Theatre from October 21, 2015, through February 21, 2016.

Strong has fond memories of performing on Broadway; he recalls his daily ritual of walking up Sixth Avenue, from his apartment in Chelsea to the theatre district. “I’d walk the 25 blocks and just think, ‘Wow, I’m going to play Eddie Carbone, such an iconic New York character, on Broadway.’ The walk to the theatre every night was wonderful.”

The actor says performing the show in New York was a very different experience to the earlier London engagements. “In the U.K., [the American references] were exotic, but in New York, they were just down the road,” he explains. “We had fantastic audiences who obviously knew all the references in the play.”

“I also love the reaction of the American audience,” Strong continues. “The British audience are a little more reticent to be vocal but with the American audience, you got a response.”

The actor says concluding the Broadway run and taking his final bow as Eddie was “heartbreaking.” “I absolutely adored doing it,” he says. “I had the best time. I love the process of rehearsal, and I love the teamwork required from a group of actors every night. I had the best cast I could work with, everybody was at the top of their game.”

Strong says that over the show’s two-year journey, the company of A View from the Bridge became very close. While in New York, they would often eat together at a restaurant across the street from the theatre. “In a play, you have to function as a family,” he says. “You’re seeing those people every day…You kind of fall in and out of love with people over a long run.”

Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in <i>A View from the Bridge</i>
Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in A View from the Bridge Photo by Jan Versweyveld

Strong is currently in London, where he is filming the second Kingsman film with Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. He has a grueling schedule but says “wild horses couldn’t drag” him away from attending the Tonys this weekend.

Strong admits that A View from the Bridge has rekindled his love of the stage. For a role intended to help him “dip his toe back in the water of theatre,” it now has him fully submerged. “It’s reminded me of what theatre is,” he says; his first ten years as a professional actor were in the theatre before he switched over to film for an extended period.

“It’s just you and the audience,” he continues. “Filming is such a fractured process. You’re filming out of sequence, little bits here and there. It’s always wonderful seeing the final film but the process of making a movie isn’t as rewarding as standing onstage every night.”

“I’m desperate to get back onstage,” he continues. “I want to get back in front of a live audience, and I want to be able to do intelligent work that people love to talk about.” While he isn’t able to reveal specific details, the actor is in talks to return to the stage at the National Theatre in London later this year. Until then, he's just happy riding the continued success of A View from the Bridge.

Olivia Clement is a news and features writer at Playbill.com, specializing in the wonderful and expansive world of Off-Broadway. Follow her on Twitter @oliviaclement_.

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