PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Pulitzer Prize Winner and Don't Go Gentle Star Michael Cristofer

By Matthew Blank
16 Oct 2012

Last book you read: "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" by Jonah Lehrer, which suggests that artists often prefigure scientific discoveries. Very cool idea.
Must-see TV show(s): Bill Maher... flawed as he is.
Last good movie you saw: "Tree of Life." I know, flawed, but at least Malick is still trying. And the other night I caught "The English Patient"... which technically is the "last" good movie I saw.
Some films you consider classics: "Bringing Up Baby"
Anything with Fred Astaire
"La Strada"
"Breaker Morant"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Again, Mark Rylance
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Joan Rivers
Three favorite cities: New York, Paris, New Orleans
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook"
First stage kiss: Never been kissed on stage. Oh, wait, David Wilson Barnes kisses me in "Don't Go Gentle"... but it's a fatherly thing.
How you got your Equity card: Slept with a producer. Kidding. I really can't remember.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:Reading fairy tales out loud in the third grade... made me dizzy with power.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Fish tacos at Bar Centrale
Favorite liquid refreshment: Basil Haydn bourbon
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Down dog/up dog and a lot of vomiting.
What drew you to this project? The writing of course. Subtle and deep. And because this is a play that does go for the throat.
Any upcoming projects you can talk about? I've written the libretto for an opera based on the life of prize fighter Emile Griffith who was black, gay and killed a man in the ring. It will premiere at Opera St. Louis in the spring.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: I was doing a physically exhausting play once and while I was onstage I sort of separated from myself... I was suddenly watching myself on the other side of the stage doing the part. In fact I had frozen and was doing nothing at all. For about a minute. That was when I started therapy.
Most challenging role you have played onstage: I played Adolf Eichmann last fall in Boston in a play called Captors by Evan Weiner. Peter Dubois directed at the Huntington Theatre. It was challenging on a personal level, on an emotional level and it was also a very challenging relationship with the audience.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Well, I guess it's time for Lear, isn't it?
Leading lady role you wish you could play: Medea
Career you would want if not a performer: Archeology
Three things you can't live without: Music, olive oil and my partner, Lou Deering
"I'll never understand why…" … people will vote for candidates who clearly work against their best interests.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Just keep going, don't look back. And don't ever let anything shut down your heart.