Another year, another batch of Hollywood names who didn’t claim a spot in the Tony nominations.
Daniel Radcliffe and Denzel Washington, giving highly praised performances in the revivals of “The Cripple of Inishmaan” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” respectively, were only the most glaring in a long list of well-known thesps left out in the cold. Joining them out there were Michelle Williams, the highest-profile new element of the “Cabaret” revival, along with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, both of plays in rep “Waiting for Godot” and “No Man’s Land.”
Not to mention James Franco (“Of Mice and Men”), Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (both in “Betrayal”), Orlando Bloom (“Romeo and Juliet”), Debra Messing (“Outside Mullingar”) and the entire cast of the play “The Realistic Joneses” — Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette and Marisa Tomei (plus Tracy Letts, who won last year’s lead play acting Tony for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”).
But even if the New York theater industry has always viewed Hollywood celebrity with a hint of snobbish skepticism, you can’t argue that the Tonys refuse to recognize Hollywood talent when they feel an honor is deserved. Both Neil Patrick Harris (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) scored high-profile lead acting nominations, and each is widely considered to be the frontrunner in his respective categories. There are also Chris O’Dowd (“Of Mice and Men”), Idina Menzel (“If/Then”) and Tony Shalhoub (“Act One”), among others. The industry loves Hugh Jackman so much that they gave him a special Tony in 2012, and he’ll be back to host the Tony ceremony for the fourth time on June 8.
And while Radcliffe has yet to score a nomination (after Broadway stints in “Equus” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”), Washington won a Tony the last time around, scoring the trophy in 2010 for “Fences.” Scarlett Johansson, too, has seen both sides of the legit awards season, winning for “A View From the Bridge” in 2010 but not even nominated for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 2013.
Thesps more familiar for their work in Hollywood than on Broadway ultimately find that, just as everyone else on the Rialto, they’re subject to the same category limitations and the same whims of taste that sway all the nominators’ decisions.
But anyone concerned they won’t be seeing their favorite celebs on the Tony broadcast shouldn’t worry just yet. In recent years ceremony producers have made an effort to include more familiar, viewer-attracting fare in the telecast alongside the newer work being honored, and there’s no reason to think they won’t find a place for Radcliffe or Franco or Washington or Williams, or any other good-sport celebrity, to participate in the industry’s big night.