PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Laurie Metcalf, Getting Domesticated at Lincoln Center Theater

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10 Dec 2013

Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf chats with two-time Tony nominee Laurie Metcalf, who is currently starring in Lincoln Center Theater's production of Bruce NorrisDomesticated.


Playing Judy, a picture-perfect politician's wife in Bruce Norris' Domesticated, Laurie Metcalf is not at a loss for words. For the majority of the first act, following a confession of infidelity from her husband, her character is constantly talking — about her anger, her sadness and her disappointment. 

Metcalf, a two-time Tony nominee who has starred on Broadway in November, Brighton Beach Memoirs and The Other Place, has also garnered three Emmy Awards for her role in "Roseanne" and appeared in numerous films, including "Desperately Seeking Susan," "Toy Story" and "Scream 2."

The award-winning actress spoke with about taking on a timely, political role and her onstage marriage with Jeff Goldblum.

What made you decide to play Judy in Domesticated?

Laurie Metcalf: I'm a huge Bruce Norris fan, so that part was really easy. And, I've worked with Bruce and [director] Anna [Shapiro] before, about a decade ago, on a play called Purple Heart. And, I love being in New York.

The play is so timely.

LM: I love that it's thought-provoking. I love the character because it's so juicy, and I love the humor in it. I was just kind of fascinated by the play itself.

I kept wondering what you were thinking in the first scene, when your character's husband gives his press conference announcing his resignation, and you stand next to him without speaking.

LM: All of us have wondered what is going on in the mind of the person standing at that podium. I played around in rehearsals with how much to show, what the character is going through — if she's devastated, if she's livid, if she's embarassed. All those things are valid. What it came down to, interestingly for me, is just, sort of, be inscrutable. I think that the audience fills in whatever they want to see on my face.

I'm purposefully not trying to tilt my character in any way with that scene at the podium, and I still have audience members come up to me and say, "She was so (fill in the blank) at the beginning." I'm trying not to have selected one of my voices at the very top, but people seem to do it for me. They read what they want to read onto the character.

How did you create your onstage relationship with Jeff?

LM: We had worked together one other time. He had a television show called "Raines," and I played a guest spot on it. I remember, when we were sitting, waiting for lighting set-ups, it came up how we would like to do a play together, and years later, here we are. It's serendipitous and so fortunate.

First of all, I'm crazy about him. He's a terrific guy. He's a wonderful onstage partner because he's so pleasant every moment of the show. He's so good with the language, which is crucial for a Bruce Norris play/character. And, that comes so easily to him. I enjoyed the whole rehearsal process with him because he has a really strong work ethic, and I like that. I like to work in the rehearsal room, and so does he. I think our sensibilities just matched on how to approach a play.


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