Oscar-nominated actor Uma Thurman made her Broadway debut November 30 in Beau Willimon’s new play (his Broadway debut) The Parisian Woman at the Hudson Theatre. After the curtain came down, Thurman, Willimon, Tony-winning director Pam MacKinnon, as well as cast members Josh Lucas, Tony winner Blair Brown (Copenhagen), and Tony nominee Phillipa Soo (Hamilton, Amélie) greeted Playbill live on the opening-night red carpet to talk about creating the new political drama.
Thurman plays Chloe, who is married to Tom, played by Josh Lucas. A well-to-do Washington, D.C., couple, Tom is up for a judgeship, and Chloe uses her social cunning to help him get there. But the story is also about their unconventional relationship, and three women all finding their way in present-day D.C.
“In this play the relationships have enormous contradictions, and the characters allow each other to be honest in ways most of us are challenged to be in our own lives,” Thurman told Playbill live on the red carpet. “The authenticity of creating multiple relationships in which different types of love are experienced, I hope, is a common experience for most of the world. ... The play is a fascinating play for that reason.”
She also expressed her gratitude in finally making her Broadway debut. “Pam is the sole and singular reason that I have ever made it to Broadway. I will forever be grateful to her,” she said. As for stage versus screen: “The wonderful difference is that after enormous amounts of work and disciplined investigation into the character, the play, the blocking, everything you actually get to present the performance yourself. No one’s editing you, deciding your idea was wrong and theirs was right. You can only take up the truth of what you believe in from your director or playwright. In live performance you’re telling a kind of truth that you don’t see in a film.”
Soo, no stranger to the stage, spoke about working with Thurman and her castmates. “I was in such awe at the way that Blair and Uma were working in the room,” she said. She too sung the praises of director MacKinnon. “She asks a lot of great questions, and I think it's always a conversation, there's never some overriding idea. There’s a calming nature about Pam.”
Playbill’s live Facebook audience got their questions answered by Soo, as they wondered what she does for her vocal warm-up. “I do this really nerdy vocal warm-up that I learned in school. The things you learn in school are very valuable, and I think I have the Juilliard School [to thank] for the amazing warm-up I do every day. If I want to shake it up a little bit, I do some poetry, some tongue-twisters.
This is Soo’s third role she has originated on Broadway, and she shared with Playbill what she relates to in her Parisian character, Rebecca. “I definitely related to her inner unrest because of the way that the world is today, but I think Rebecca is way less emotional than I am,” she said. “I think she has a very straight and narrow path and she knows exactly what she is going to do, and I am much more the artist, which is like, ‘What is my purpose in life?‘”
Watch the full interviews with Thurman, Soo, MacKinnon, Willimon, Brown, and Lucas in the video above.