Sex with Strangers Anna Gunn David
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Ever notice how many Hollywood actors have a special affection for stage work? Either they’re like Neil Patrick Harris or Daniel Radcliffe — who got their starts on screen but like to challenge themselves consistently with stage work — or they’re like Anna Gunn and David Schwimmer, the star and director of Off Broadway’s “Sex with Strangers,” for whom theater is a kind of homecoming.

“Breaking Bad” alum Gunn, “Friends” star Schwimmer and “Sex” playwright Laura Eason (pictured above,with “Sex” co-star Billy Magnussen) all knew each other back at Northwestern and got their start on the Chicago stage. Gunn, for one, is thrilled to be back on the boards.

“It’s my playground,” she said after the July 30 opening at Second Stage Theater. “I love performances, but really, rehearsals are my favorite part. You don’t get much rehearsal time to think and explore when you’re doing TV. Bryan [Cranston, the “Breaking Bad” star fresh off his own Tony-winning stage stint] and I would use every second we had in the trailer and between takes for it.”

Schwimmer has spent much of his post-“Friends” time directing and starring in plays, and he has the same abiding love for live theater that Gunn does. “It’s where we all started,” he said. “There really is something to the immediacy of it. You step out there on stage and for two hours there’s no safety net.”

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