×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jonjo O’Neill: International Star You Should Know

After five knockout years onstage, Brit thesp ready for multimedia success

Chairman of the Boards

Jonjo O’Neill has given electric performances in the U.K.’s premier theaters this past year: the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theater and the Royal Court. With 20 productions in five years, he’s been onstage nearly every evening, with roles ranging from a tapdancing medical experimenter to Richard III. In the RSC’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “As You Like It,” he stole the show as Mercutio and Orlando, respectively. Next frontiers: TV and film.

Background Impressions

“I’m from Ireland, a place of funny people who are good at telling stories, at doing impressions. All of that is an actor’s skill set, it’s all present in my family, but I’m the only one who has chosen to pursue it.” His family, he says, has been amazingly supportive. “They think I’m smart because I do Shakespeare. When your son is playing a king at the RSC, it seems like the apex of cleverness.”

The Bard Mystique

Shakespeare is intimidating to most people. O’Neill says they are under the illusion that there’s a group of people who comprehend it naturally. “Understanding Shakespeare is just staring at it for hours, rehearsing and asking a lot of stupid questions: ‘Why does he say that, what does this mean, what is he doing here, who is she exactly?’ ”

Peek at Technique

“When you go onstage night after night, your technique grows. You develop new levels of relaxation out of necessity. No matter what time you wake up, you need to peak at half past 7 every night. So you pace yourself, how and when you eat, how much you exercise, ‘How is my voice today? Am I getting a cold?’ It’s like babysitting your character until the performance starts. Always at the back of your mind is ‘I have a show at 7:30.’ ”

Testimonial

“There’s no one more fearless and playful in a rehearsal room, and no one more alive and dazzling with an audience,” says director Rupert Goold. “Men want to be him and women just want him, but it’s the size of his soul that makes him such a poetic actor.”

Making Choices

“My agent says it’s great to know what you want, but it’s important to be flexible. If you’re too fixed, you could lose out. A lot of actors have waited around so long that they’ve lost momentum.”

More Legit

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

  • Ink Play West End London

    Wary Theater Rivalry Between London and New York Gives Way to a Boom in Crossovers

    Give or take a little tectonic shift, the distance between London and New York still stands at 3,465 miles. Arguably, though, the two theater capitals have never been closer. It’s not just the nine productions playing in duplicate in both locations — believed to be the most ever — with three more expected in the [...]

  • Alex Brightman Beetlejuice Broadway

    How Alex Brightman Brought a Pansexual Beetlejuice to Life on Broadway

    Alex Brightman gives the deadliest performance on Broadway — in a good way — in “Beetlejuice.” The big-budget musical adaptation of the 1988 film directed by Tim Burton has scored eight Tony nominations, including best actor. To play the frisky role, Brightman (“School of Rock”) dons Beetlejuice’s striped suit and an assortment of colorful wigs [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content