Kevin Kline took home the Drama Desk Award June 4 for his performance as self-involved actor Garry Essendine in the Noël Coward classic Present Laughter. But while his acting chops won him the statue (and snagged him a 2017 Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play), it’s his quick thinking that got him through a recent performance.
“The other night—the first act ends with this seduction scene—and I’m hovering over [Cobie Smulders] and our lips are just about to touch and the curtain is supposed to discreetly come in and end the [act],” Kline told host Seth Meyers during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “Well, it never came in. In her upstage ear [I’m] saying, ‘There's no curtain,’ and then ‘Why don’t we go upstairs?‘ So she just followed me up to the bedroom. So it works.
“That’s part of the fun of live theatre,” said Kline, although noting that “all of the mishaps had to do with Cobie Smulders oddly enough.”
Present Laughter marks Kline’s return to Broadway for the first time in nearly a decade, when he starred opposite Jennifer Garner in Cyrano de Bergerac. “It’s high energy and very witty and very funny,” he said of his current gig.
And even though Kline has had a storied career onstage and off, this is his first Coward play. “I’ve always wanted to [do one], and I’m delighted to be in this one, because I think more than any of his other plays, it’s accessible, it’s funny," said the star.
Kline was last nominated for a Tony in 2004 for his performance in Henry IV, for which he won the Drama Desk. He won both the Drama Desk and Tony in 1978 for On The Twentieth Century and again in 1981 as The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance.