Two-time Tony Award winner (and recent nominee for War Paint) Patti LuPone swung by Watch What Happens Live after a recent performance at the Nederlander Theatre—and the actor was in truth-telling form.
Host Andy Cohen asked LuPone, who won her first Tony Award for her performance in the title role in Evita, what she thought of Madonna playing the role in the movie of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. “I was on the treadmill when MTV used to have videos, and I saw ’Buenos Aires,’ and I thought it was a piece of sh*t,” said LuPone. “Madonna is a movie killer. She’s dead behind the eyes. She cannot act her way out of a paper bag. She should not be in film or onstage. She’s a wonderful performer for what she does, but she is not an actress.”
LuPone and Madonna have only met once before (previous to her comments on the talk show). “She was downstairs at the Mitzi Newhouse [at Lincoln Center] when I was upstairs doing Anything Goes at the Vivian Beaumont, and a press agent put a sign up that there was only one diva allowed in this theatre at a time.
“I did meet her after her opening-night party, and the only thing Madonna has ever said to me was ‘I’m taller than you.’”
Cohen wanted to hear LuPone’s thoughts on another movie musical: Les Misérables. LuPone originated the role of Fantine in the London production of the show.
“I only saw a little bit of it,” said LuPone of the recent film version, “but I’m going to be honest: The only person that knows how to do musicals on camera is Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She is the only one who understands how to go from dialogue to song so that it makes sense, and her camera department knows how to shoot these rather large production numbers. I didn’t see Les Miz [onstage] after I left it. I’m too involved. But what I did see [of the film], I wondered why the hell they were doing close-ups of these people so that you were seeing the snot, you were seeing down their throat—you were not seeing the scene that perpetuated this emotion in this song.
“I don’t know why people can assume they can do musicals or make movie musicals without ever having been involved in the process of making a musical,” said LuPone. “So what I see on camera, that’s the NBC ones, too, I can’t believe that it looks like this.”
Of her most recent onstage musical endeavor as cosmetics pioneer Helena Rubinstein, LuPone recounted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the show.
“What I said to her was that every night when I sing a lyric ‘A woman scales the wall climbs high above them all/I know what gates of hell they put her through,’” she said. “I always think of Hillary, and I told her that. I said I sing this about you every single night.”