Tony Awards: How Ryan Murphy Made Jessica Lange’s Big Win Possible

Jessica Lange Tony Award
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Jessica Lange first performed the part of Mary Tyrone 16 years ago in a London stage production, but the newly minted Tony winner said that she understood the part in a fresh way starring in the acclaimed revival of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

“This time I came to it and it felt explosive,” Lange said at a press conference after winning best leading actress in a play on Sunday.
“With any great part there’s a time in your life when you come to it and something happens between you and the character.”

“It has to do with what you bring, your life history, your life experience, and somehow this one had that feeling to it,” Lange added.

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Returning to the part of the morphine-addicted matriarch of a troubled family was made possible by Ryan Murphy. The two had collaborated on “American Horror Story” and Lange said the television impresario was moved to secure the rights to the show after she told him it was the greatest part she’d ever had.

“It was through his good friendship and graces that we did this production,” said Lange. “I always find coming back to something after lots of time, you bring something back to it when you revisit a role.”

Lange is best known for her performances in films such as “Tootsie” and “Frances,” but the actress said she gets a special thrill from her stage work.

“When theater works there’s nothing more thrilling in the world, it’s immediate and there’s a certain kind of alchemy,” said Lange. “There’s an exchange of energy between the audience and the performers. It’s palpable.”

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