Michael Grandage has directed stage performances from actors ranging from Jude Law to Nicole Kidman to Daniel Radcliffe. But Forest Whitaker, who stars in the Broadway revival of “Hughie” that opened Feb. 25, was a first for Grandage.
“Forest is a proper, full Method actor,” Grandage said after the opening night performance. “He 100% has to inhabit the character from within. He can’t actually do it unless he’s inhabiting it. The good part of that is it means he’s absolutely incapable of dishonesty. It has to be real. It has to be true. It has to be something very personal.”
Whitaker, for his part, had initially hoped to make his Broadway debut in a new play. “I wanted to do an original piece,” he said. “But then when they gave me ‘Hughie,’ I’d never heard of it, and most everybody I talked to had never seen it. So it’s kind of like doing an original play.”
He hasn’t been onstage in years — and that was part of the appeal for the Oscar winner, whose next film project is “Star Wars: Rogue One.” “As somebody who’s always trying to push myself, it gave me a great deal of fear, thinking about tackling this piece,” he joked.
Even with the nerves, though, he’s already thinking about what he’ll do next. “The next one will probably be something original,” he said. “Theater is a unique experience. It’s alive, like they say.”