Before Lilli Cooper auditioned for Tootsie, she didn’t have access to the full script and had no idea “how much they really strayed from the film,” says the 2019 Tony Award nominee. “Once we started the rehearsal process I knew that we were just on our own journey.” And that includes Cooper’s character Julie, the actor starring as the title role in the musical-within-the-musical Juliet’s Curse.
Cooper is our guide as Julie reveals the precarious place for women in any workplace, in this case Broadway’s backstage, and answering to a male superior, in this case her director. “It’s really joyous to be able to put out a shared experience and I can feel that,” she says. “It’s very palpable with the audience, especially with the female-identifying audience.”
Just as Cooper feels her impact on her audiences, in the video above she remembers the show that most affected her: “Porgy and Bess on Broadway with Audra McDonald was a transformative experience for me. I was already in the world and in the business but it just confirmed everything I believe about art and Broadway.”
The actor also shared the musical theatre song she’ll never get sick of, the person she most wants to work with next (hint: he is a Tony nominee with whom she’s worked before), and her pick for next year’s Tonys host.
But for this year, Cooper basks in the power of her role in Tootsie. “Not only do I get to belt my face off... I’m wearing this fierce jumpsuit and the lighting is epic and it feels like this badass, rockstar moment.” Rock on.