PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Lincoln Center Theater's Macbeth Star Jonny Orsini

By Matthew Blank
19 Nov 2013

Some films you consider classics: "Some Like It Hot," Chaplin films, Kazan films (all the obvious ones, but also "A Face in the Crowd" is remarkable), Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet."
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Mark Rylance, obv.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: A girl I was dating was having a rough day so I sent her a YouTube link to One Direction's music video "Kiss Me." She loved it, and I'm not ashamed to say I did too, haha.
Three favorite cities: NYC is no doubt top, but I drove cross country and my favorite stops were: Austin, TX (also for South By Southwest which is so much fun), Big Sur (made dinner by a fire on the beach next to cliffs at sunset), Chicago (love the Blues bars)
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Green Day's "Dookie." Classic!
First stage kiss: Allison Owen - I was 17. I think she’s a lawyer now. All nervous excitement, smitten teenager passion. She was great and holds a place in my heart. And although kissing Nathan Lane eight shows a week was a pleasure and honor, I’m sorry Nathan, but I’ll take a lady’s soft lips over scruff any day!
Some favorite or most memorable roles as a child or teen: I didn’t have any thought of acting as a kid, but I remember seeing Malick's "Thin Red Line" and being completely blown away. I knew something was different about it and it made a huge impression on me.

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I played sax when I was younger and remember a middle school performance when I came off stage, floating. I didn't know what to make of it but I think it was the power of live, communal energy. Though acting didn't come till 5 or 6 years later, I never forgot the first time I felt that.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I eat a plant-based diet so probably something involving vegetables. Huge smoothies in my Vitamix. Got hooked on the Japanese noodle house Tabata when I was working at The New Group.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Jameson. Also love a Sapporo when I’m eating Japanese.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Depends on the character, but variations of workouts, yoga and mantras.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: My pants ripped wide open in a show in college, but my character was hammered drunk so I rolled with it and it worked out well.
Craziest audition story: When I walked out of my audition for The Nance having met Jack O’Brien and felt like I met an artistic genius, mystical understander of human beings, and soul mate.

He is a guardian angel and dream come true, for many people and animals alike (namely, his adorable dogs).

What drew you to this project? Jack O’Brien, Lincoln Center Theater (which - because of Andre, his team, the donors and members who all support the cultivation of challenging, stimulating storytelling - is an indispensable blessing and gift to Broadway) and of course, William Shakespeare. Poetry makes us more than what we’d otherwise be.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of this show? Working with a large, insanely talented cast. When we were doing table work I’d look to my left and right and think, “I’m surrounded on both sides by not one or two, but a whole group of some of the best actors on Broadway.” And a very warm welcome to Anne Marie Duff who is going to Tear. It. Up!
Most challenging role you have played onstage: The Nance was just really emotional. We (Nathan and I) fell deeply in love, then ripped our guts out every night and sometimes it felt like being hit by a truck 8 times a week.

For such a great company, for such a beautiful, socially relevant story - it was an honor and I wouldn't want to do anything else.

Similarly, I played a Marine with PTSD in a short film that did very well, the experience was taxing and I had a hard time getting out of bed for almost a month after shooting (which, clearly, doesn’t remotely touch someone who’s actually been through it).

But at South by Southwest in TX a military family came up to me after a screening and said, “Our son just came home, thank you for sharing this story.” A line from one of the movies I’ve done is, “It’s not the man who loves to race, but the man who races to love.” I think that about sums it up for many of us storytellers.
Five Shakespearean roles you'd love to take on next: Romeo. Prince Hal. Orlando. I think I’d give a great take on Edmund. Feste would be a blast – I’m certainly not at a loss for playful mischievousness...
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Honestly, Romeo. Hopefully I don’t age out by the time the right production comes along, but I could bring so much to it and believe things come in their time the way they need to.
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at: Hey listen, I saw Bedford do Lady Bracknell so don't put me in a box! What, is it because I’m not British??
Something about you that surprises people: I'm a bit more naughty than I appear to be ;)
Career you would want if not a performer: Woodworker - furniture.
Three things you can't live without: Family, outdoors, playtime
"I'll never understand why…" … Emily Ratajkowski hasn’t asked me out yet. I know I’m intimidating but come on already! (I heard she reads a lot which is a major turn on)
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Don’t think of it as performing – just tell the truth for the sake of the person you’re becoming and make sure the back row can hear you.