Stay At Home, Follow the Formula and Strip More Slowly — Tony Nominees Share Some of the Worst Showbiz Advice

Tony Awards   Stay At Home, Follow the Formula and Strip More Slowly — Tony Nominees Share Some of the Worst Showbiz Advice
 
Nominees for the 2015 Tony Awards share memories with Playbill.com about the worst advice they've been given about show business.
Kristin Chenoweth and Andy Karl in <i>On the Twentieth Century</i>
Kristin Chenoweth and Andy Karl in On the Twentieth Century Photo by Joan Marcus

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Andy Karl (Tony Nominee, On the Twentieth Century)
It's usually from myself. I give myself the worst advice. That's why I have agents. As an actor, you're constantly being self-critical and trying to perfect yourself all the time. Sometimes the vision of yourself is not always there, but other people can see it.

Kevin McCollum (Tony Nominee, Something Rotten!)
When I hear someone say, "There's a formula to it." Because I promise you, there's not a formula. Theatre is about surprises and I basically make my living working with new writers and bringing their work to Broadway, and it's because I love to surprise an audience and find new voices for the theatre.

Christian Borle (Tony Nominee, Something Rotten!)
Make everything a competition. Alessandro Nivola (Tony Nominee, The Elephant Man)
Nick Cage asked me when I was working with him for the first time, "Alessandro, who do you want to be, man? Who do you want to be?" If I had taken it, I would have come up with some sort of persona for myself which would have been easy for people to… what he meant was, you gotta have a gimmick. I've had a very old-fashioned career, where I was an intern in a summer theatre and acted in regional theatre, and then I had a show on Broadway and then I got my first movie. It's all been a very long, steadily growing thing. I've never really had one moment that sort of was defining. I feel really grateful for that now because it's allowed me to have a really varied career, which is the thing I'm the most proud of professionally.

Bill Nighy (Tony Nominee, Skylight)
Do everything that comes along. I mean, sometimes you have to to pay the bills.

Elisabeth Moss (Tony Nominee, The Heidi Chronicles)
Probably to work out more.

Alex Sharp (Tony Nominee, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
Quite a lot of bad advice out there. A lot of people, when I was in England and I was coming to America, advised me not to come — to stay in England. "This is where your family are. This is where you belong." And I didn't feel like I belonged there. I've always felt like I've spent more than half my life in America. I left and came to the States and came to New York... This feels like home to me, whether my accent makes me sound like I'm from here or not. That was the best thing I ignored.

Emily Skeggs (Tony Nominee, Fun Home)
I think the worst advice is not being yourself. Feeling like you have to put up some kind of front or some kind of wall. Of course we all need to protect our hearts at some point, but I feel like honesty and being yourself is really important... What is that bullshit? What is that? We're actors — we're ourselves. We have to bring ourselves to everything. Yeah, we have to protect our hearts and be safe, but be yourself, man!

Micah Stock (Tony Nominee, It's Only a Play)
The thing that I always hate is when people are like, "Find your type." Your type is you. I think it's not your job to limit yourself or market yourself. Other people will do that for you, so don't spend your time doing it. Spend your time getting better and finding the people you want to work with.

Brandon Uranowitz (Tony Nominee, An American in Paris)
The worst advice I've ever been given was at a callback for a "Law and Order" episode that I actually booked and ended up doing. The producers in the room said, "Make it less about the other person. Make it all about yourself. It's all about you and how you're feeling at that moment." It seems odd for me to tell you that it's horrible advice because I got the job but in my experience as an actor, the best thing you can do on stage film anywhere is to be with your scene partner. Always do something for your scene partner and to your scene partner. It makes it active, it's the dynamic… Being told to make it all about myself went against everything I'd been taught. Even if you're doing a monologue, it's all about who you're talking to, what you want. As soon as you make it about yourself, it's indulgent and gross.

Ayad Akhtar (Tony Nominee, Disgraced)
"Keep killin' it." I don't even know what that means!

Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Tony Nominee, Hand to God)
The worst piece of showbiz advice? "Take off your top slower." Because it's just like a Band-Aid. You just gotta get there.

Julie White (Tony Nominee, Airline Highway)

Julie White and Carolyn Braver in <i>Airline Highway</i>
Julie White and Carolyn Braver in Airline Highway Photo by Joan Marcus

Learn how to tap dance. Someone in high school told me, "You’re going to learn how to tap dance if you want to be in the chorus of a Broadway show." I think I ruined both my ankles. I was a terrible tap dancer. Tap dancing has never factored into my career in any way. Robert Askins (Tony Nominee, Hand to God)
Somebody told me, when I was working at EST [Ensemble Studio Theatre] almost exclusively, "You should spread out and branch out more." Maybe it would have been useful, but at the same time, staying true to my home is what let the play that we're being celebrated for become what it was. It was like coming in again to the same group of people and the same artists and the same space. It was really informative for me.

Ben Miles (Tony Nominee, Wolf Hall)
The worst piece of advice was, "You can't do that."

Joshua Bergasse (Tony Nominee, On the Town)
It was probably not to go to an audition that I should have gone to.

Steven Boyer (Tony Nominee, Hand to God)
The worst showbiz advice I ever got was, "No matter what you are auditioning for, you always, always wear a blue shirt." You know, I have auditioned for homeless people, muggers, drug addicts, and they don't always wear blue. I mean, sometimes they do if they're like meeting their parents at a nice restaurant or something, but you don't always wear the blue shirt.

Sam Gold (Tony Nominee, Fun Home)
I've had millions of people try to tell me to change my work to make it more commercial. That's not gone well for me.

Tony Yazbeck (Tony Nominee, On the Town)
Oh my, God. Probably so many! "The best way to act is to react," or something like that. And, I was like, "What? So, you want me to just react, and then I'm acting?" I didn't quite get it.

Tony Yazbeck in <i>On the Town</i>
Tony Yazbeck in On the Town Photo by Joan Marcus
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