PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Tony Nominee Carrie Coon
By Matthew Blank
May 28, 2013
Carrie Coon, a 2013 Tony Award nominee for her performance as Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Past theatre credits include Three Sisters, The March (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Arena Stage); The Girl in the Yellow Dress (Next Theatre Company); The Real Thing (Writers’ Theatre); Magnolia (Goodman Theatre); Brontë (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Reasons to Be Pretty, Blackbird (Renaissance Theaterworks); The Diary of Anne Frank, Anna Christie, Our Town (Madison Repertory Theatre); and four seasons with American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI.
Television and film credits include “The Playboy Club,” various commercials and "One in a Million."
Full given name:
Carrie Alexandra Coon
Where you were born/where you were raised:
What your parents did/do for a living:
My mother is an emergency room nurse. My father almost became a priest, then ran the family auto parts business, and now does maintenance for the Akron Art Museum.
Older sister, older brother, (me) and two younger brothers
Current audition song/monologue:
Kyra from Skylight
Play some guitar, speak a little Spanish, track & field events, soccer
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Basketball. The one year I played, my coach would yell, "Coon, you're an athlete! What's wrong with you?!"
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations when first starting out as an actor?
I didn't know much about theatre when I started, so my graduate school professors at UW Madison and the acting company at American Players Theatre were all very inspiring to me. My Grandpa Bill also had some great stories about his community theatre days.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Les Miserables, on a high school trip to New York
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
August: Osage County. I missed it in Chicago!
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends:
Starting a second round of Broadway this week, but I was recommending Tribes, The Flick and Belleville before they closed.
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Will Eno, Tracy Letts, Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, Laura Jacqmin, Amelia Roper
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Ben Gazzara, Gene Hackman, Jill Clayburgh, Katharine and Audrey Hepburn, and even still, Vanessa Redgrave, Sissy Spacek, Gary Oldman
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
I think Tracy Letts was awfully brilliant in Steppenwolf's production of American Buffalo, directed by Amy Morton.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Music often catches (or pushes) me off-guard and moves me.
Design Sponge, NYTimes.com, theaterinchicago.com
Last book you read:
"Solar Lottery" by Philip K. Dick
Must-see TV show(s):
Can't say, but I would recommend everyone watch the "Up" documentary series by Michael Apted.
Last good movie you saw:
"The French Connection
Some films you consider classics:
"The Third Man," "The Searchers," "The Last Picture Show," "Days Of Heaven," "Chungking Express," "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence," "The Devils," "The Verdict," "Don't Look Now," "Sid and Nancy," "Strawdogs," "Broadcast News"
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
That's a good question, and I think I have to say Maria Dizzia after seeing her in Belleville. Also, Michael Shannon is always compelling.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
"The Walking Dead"
Three favorite cities:
St. Sebastian, Chicago, some new place I haven't been yet
Soccer is my favorite sport, but right now I can't get enough of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
My sister and I shared a room and a tape player. "Some People's Lives" by Bette Midler and "Cooleyhighharmony" by Boys II Men. I really liked my dad's Blood, Sweat & Tears LP.
When my sister acquired the tape "Happy Nation" by Ace of Base, life got really hard.
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you?
My first role was Emily in Our Town my senior year in high school.
First stage kiss:
A peck on the lips during that aforementioned production of Our Town, at the end of the wedding scene.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
When I saw kids my age performing in Babes in Toyland at the Akron Civic Theater when I was ten years old.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
Chicken Pad Thai (medium spicy) at Olieng Thai on 10th Ave. between 45th and 46th. It's perfect.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
Completely depends on the demands of the show. I did not drink alcohol before Virginia Woolf.
Most challenging role you have ever played:
Una in Blackbird by David Harrower
Did any particular research or preparation go into your unforgettable performance?
I spent a lot of time alone in my apartment in a slip and heels doing my hair, putting on make-up, nipping a little brandy, listening to music from the 50's and 60's, making a grocery list.
What was the biggest challenge about Woolf?
Finding the balance of humor and pathos while trying not to act drunk badly.
What was the most fun or fulfilling aspect?
Working with Amy Morton, Tracy Letts, Madison Dirks and Pam MacKinnon
Did you have a favorite moment in the show for Honey?
When I danced like the wind. Try it once a day for a week. It might change your life.
Who were the first people you called/texted/emailed after learning of your Tony nomination?
They all called/texted/emailed ME! My manager, and then my mom.
Any ideas/hints about your Tony night wardrobe?
I will be clothed.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
Face-plant off of a library ladder on opening night of Misalliance at the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI. The audience applauded my rising curtsy because they were pretty sure I was dead.
Worst job you ever had:
I cold-called automobile scrapyards for my uncle and tried to sell them a new software system. I didn't know anything about the software, cars or scrapyards. Or sales. The company was dissolved, but I can't take full responsibility for that.
Craziest audition story:
When I was auditioning to do motion capture work at a video game company, they asked me to pretend I was "a creature with like, no spine, and club this body to death. And sniff at it. Stuff like that."
I did end up doing some creature work in my tenure there, but I was mostly just kidnapped and shot.
Any upcoming or current projects you can talk about?
Does possibly cleaning your house count as a project? Just kidding. I've got some irons in the fire. Things are going pretty well so far, and I'm excited to see what happens next.
Leading man role you'd like a shot at:
I think Richard III is really tricky. I did a workshop at Steppenwolf with Rob Clare, formerly of the RSC and the National, and watching him work with an actor on the opening speech fascinated me. Or maybe a new play about Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Something about you that surprises people:
That I'm a big jock
Career you would want if not a performer:
A linguist or an archeologist
Three things you can't live without:
Reading material, tennis shoes, the woods
"I'll never understand why…"
… an audience would applaud an actor's entrance. An entrance is really important to the rhythm of a scene. The person isn't entering but a character is, and applause arrests the story. Maybe I will feel differently if I ever actually get entrance applause. And now that I've answered this question, I most certainly will not.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Save your money. You don't want your economic situation to limit your artistic choices.