After months of anticipation, the stage adaptation of Network bowed on Broadway December 6 at the Belasco Theatre after its acclaimed (and Olivier-nominated) run at the National Theatre in London. Written by Lee Hall, the play is based on the 1976 film of the same name by Paddy Chayefsky. (Fun fact: Chayefsky’s great-nephew is a member of the cast, Eric Chayefsky.) The transfer brought with it its star, Tony and Emmy winner Bryan Cranston (All the Way, Breaking Bad), in the production directed by Tony-winning director Ivo van Hove (A View From the Bridge).
Playbill spoke to Cranston on the opening night red carpet—as well as his co-stars Tony Goldwyn and Tatiana Maslany, and his director and playwright—about what powers his tour de force performance, maneuvering the intricate and unprecedented video-meets-theatre technology, and more. (Watch the full red carpet special below.)
“The only characters I'm really attracted to are the ones that are damaged,” Cranston told us. “I think it has something to do with wanting to go into a cathartic experience and purge some of my own angst and anxiety and upset. ... I think it's very therapeutic for me.”
“Bryan is a real theatre actor in the way that he lives in the moment,” said van Hove of his leading man. “So he is capable that even when he has played it for a long time already and lived with this play for a long time he can give you the feeling that he is in that moment that he is saying that line for the first time.”
Van Hove pushes his actors to extremes amidst an overstimulating environment in which audiences (both the diners at the onstage restaurant known as Foodwork and those in the typical auditorium space) constantly choose whether to watch the actors or their hypnotizing images on screens everywhere. Goldwyn has an expanded pre-show ritual just to gain concentration. “I really need a couple of hours to get my head around this show,” said Goldwyn. “I either take a nap or I live on the Upper West Side so I'll walk through the park and go through the entire script every night. I'll get to the theatre an hour or two early, take a nap or do some yoga. Warm up my voice. Meditate and then get ready at half hour.”
Cranston also has an intense care ritual—one he learned from Audra McDonald. “Aside from doing interviews on opening night I won't talk much,” he said. “When I did All The Way four years ago I talked to Audra McDonald and I said, ‘How did you go through Porgy and Bess? How did you do that?’ She said she got a mandate from her doctor not to talk on Mondays, her one day off. So I started doing Silent Mondays and it helped me tremendously.”
Watch the interviews in the livestream video above. To learn more about what to expect from Network on Broadway watch below:
Network plays Broadway’s Belasco Theatre (111 44th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues) in a limited engagement run with previews from November 10, and opening night of December 6, and a closing scheduled for March 17, 2019.