PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Lincoln Center Theater's Macbeth Star Jonny Orsini
By Matthew Blank
November 19, 2013
Jonny Orsini, who plays the role of Malcolm in Lincoln Center Theater's new staging of Macbeth, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Other stage work includes The Nance (Broadway), An Early History of Fire (the New Group), Be a Good Little Widow (Ars Nova), Banished Children of Eve (Irish Repertory Theatre), The Little Dog Laughed (Hartford TheatreWorks) and After Ashley (Company One).
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Cancer. Very much so.
Lovely sister. And hello to my awesome little nephew!
Flirting with older women, dancing like a goofball to 90s hip hop music.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Dancing WELL to 90s hip hop music. But what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Tommy. I think I was 9? I was brought along so my sis could see it, but I was more into sports as a kid. I'm sure it was amazing, though.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
The Coast of Utopia at LCT
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
Not a fan of showtunes, sorry!
I might get in trouble for this one, but I’m not really a fan of musicals. Mostly because of that moment when you know a song is coming on. Although I respect them. Oh, and The Great Comet of 1812 was awesome! Ars Nova cultivates some amazing work and Phillipa Soo is fantastic and such a sweetheart.
Some favorite modern plays:
If it’s got great wit and a huge, pulsing heart I’m in.
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Shout out to my boy Douglas Carter Beane!
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Charles Laughton, Jack Lemmon.
And I would have loved a coffee - a beer, or several actually - with Paul Newman. He’s my ultimate professional role model and the only person I ever wrote a fan letter to.
Actually I wrote one to the poet W.S. Merwin as well (about his poem “Turning”) and he sent back a gorgeous handwritten note, which was amazing.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Michael Shannon's performance in Grace was stunning. Completely grounded and flawlessly authentic.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Mumford and Sons, not exactly sure why, haha.
You personal acting idols:
Michael Shannon, Billy Crudup.
* Update: I just met Billy Crudup on the street no more than an hour after writing this and he was even sweeter and more awesome than I could have hoped. Thanks to this Q and A for helping “secret” his appearance into my life. Where you at Michael Shannon?
MAC or PC?
Trying to spend less time on computers.
zenhabits.net – worth spending time on a computer
Most played song on your iPod:
Probably "Sinister Kid" by The Black Keys. It’s got that slow-sexy rock feel. "Thats me, that's me... the boy with the broken halo."
Last book you read:
Krishnamurti's "Freedom From the Known." I keep it by my bed and read it over and over.
Must-see TV show(s):
No surprises - "Breaking Bad" (I've never seen anything so remarkable as Bryan Cranston) and "House of Cards"
Last good movie you saw:
Recently went with a certain someone to see "Roman Holiday" (for the 12th time) but on the big screen at MoMA! LOVE Gregory Peck… perfect example that sweet guys can be even more playful and fun than d-bags. Take note, ladies.
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.