DIVA TALK: Chatting With Tony Winner and The Bodyguard Star Heather Headley

By Andrew Gans
19 Oct 2012

Thea Sharrock in rehearsal
Photo by Paul Coltas

Question: How does Thea Sharrock work as a director? What's it been like working with her?
Headley: Amazing. Amazing! We have this great energy in the room with everybody. There's the fun times — there's a lot of fun times, we laugh and joke and everything like that — but then there's a time to get serious. And, she has got that middle-ground cut. It's amazing how she can lead us to laugh and joke and go off course for three-four minutes, and then she knows how to pull that all back and get in. She's great about dealing with me as a woman and how Rachel would be and how Rachel is as a mother, as a girl — the insecurities that we talked about — who Rachel is. And, on the other hand, I've seen her be amazing with being connected with who Frank is in Lloyd and all the men in the show. I've been very impressed with Thea — very smart and just knows how to run the ship. Knows that script like the back of her hand. Kind of knows everybody's reaction. How she thought through it. She hasn't come here unprepared. When she sits down and says, "What are you feeling in that…?" It's not that she's going to tell you what you're feeling, but she already, in her head, has a little back-story. But if yours is different and yours makes sense, she goes, "Of course." It's not that she's like asking for, "What are you thinking? What do you think we should do there?" It's not that. She's been great. I've had a great time with her. She and I have already talked about the fact that…we are going to part ways in a little bit because my costume fitting was yesterday, so she and I may not be friends anymore. [Laughs.] After the costume fitting, I was like, "I have ten seconds to put that dress on!" And, she was like, "Yes, you do." [Laughs.] I'll be mad at her next week, so that will be a different story.

Question: How are you finding living in London? Is your husband there with you?
Headley: No, no. My husband's flying in tomorrow after like 10 days being gone. So he's in and out. Our son is here with me, and we have a nanny, and she's great. The nanny has been amazing. I had a lot of tears leaving because a year ago, when I said yes to the contract, I kind of thought to myself, "Oh, we'll take a year, and there's no way that this is going to go through," and then all of a sudden it was September, and they were like, "Here's your plane ticket. Get on the plane." It was a lot of tears. I cried a lot, and I was like, "What am I doing? What am I doing? I'm taking my child, and I'm separated from my husband." But I will say this: It was my husband who told me to go. When they offered me the part and said, "We want you to do this," I said no. I was like, "Absolutely not. I love my life. I love what I'm doing. I'm not coming to London. Call me when you get to New York, and maybe even not then." I didn't even know if I was going to fly to New York every week — we live in Chicago now. I called [my husband], and I said, "Hey, they offered me the part. I'm going to say no." And, he said, "Oh, no. You're going. This is what you've been looking for. This is exactly what you were made to do. This is it. You're going. You're going." I was like, "No!" And, he's like, "You're going. I will fly in there every three weeks. You're going." So I've been amazingly touched, amazingly humbled by his sacrifice because we have a young son, so Brian's doing a lot of flying.

Anyhow, with all that said, when we got here and settled in, The Bodyguard has been amazing, getting ready for us. We walked into a ready-made situation with the apartment and little to ask for. It's a great apartment, great city. And so it's fun. It's an amazing city, so for anybody who's wanting to come see the show, come on over because you're going to love London. There is so much to do, it's so beautiful, the people are so sweet — so polite — and I just think, in addition to seeing the show, you're going to have a great time in the city because every week I'm finding myself falling more and more in love with it. It's turning into like a side of New York…just with a different accent. I'm like, "Oh, these New Yorkers talk differently all of a sudden!" [Laughs.] That's how it feels. It's a really, really great city, and I think we're going to have a good time. As soon as I figure out how the husband's coming, when he's coming, it will be good.