×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Walk of Fame Honoree Gary Sinise Reflects on Steppenwolf Theatre Memories

Asked to pick his favorite memories at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Gary Sinise can only muster: “Oh, geez.”

It’s a tall order, for sure, and one on which Sinise could spend hours ruminating. One of the most prominent theater companies in the United States, if not the world, Steppenwolf Theatre was founded in Chicago by Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry in 1974. Alumni include the likes of Joan Allen, John Malkovich and Tracy Letts. Asked about its enduring success, Sinise says: “It was always about the actors. In the beginning we had no money so we couldn’t make big sets or fancy things. We relied on the actors to go out there and tell the stories. We started as actors and looked for great roles.”

On the day of Sinise receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and with some pressuring, we got him to expand on shows that were significant to him.

1981: “Of Mice and Men”
Sinise played George to John Malkovich’s Lenny in this adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic. Years later, Sinise would win acclaim directing them both in a 1992 film version. “It was a great privilege and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t met Elaine Steinbeck, John Steinbeck’s widow. I got to know her during the ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and I asked her if she’d give me the rights, and I’m so grateful she did.”

1984: “Tracers”
Sinise flew out to Los Angeles to see the play written by Vietnam veterans, including creator John Di Fusco, about their experiences. “I begged John and the others to let me do the play in Chicago,” says Sinise, who directed the Steppenwolf production. The show launched Steppenwolf’s Veterans Night program, which continues to this day.

1989: “The Grapes of Wrath”
“It was one of our great moments,” says Sinise of the adaptation of the Steinbeck classic. “We started with the book and adapted it and did it in Chicago, then moved to La Jolla, California, then London, then Broadway, where it won Tony Awards for best play and best direction of a play for Frank Galati.”

1995: “Buried Child”
Hot off his “Forest Gump” success, Sinise returned to the theater to direct Sam Shepherd’s Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama. It moved to Broadway and he earned two Tony nominations; one for best direction of a play and one as the show’s producer.

2000: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
In this stage adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel, Sinise played R.P. McMurphy, the same role that landed Jack Nicholson an Oscar in the 1975 film adaptation. The production shared a connection with that film, as well. “Tim Sampson played the chief in our production. His father, Will Sampson, played the chief in the movie.” The play moved to London and Broadway, where it won a Tony Award for revival of a play, and Sinise scored a nomination for lead actor in a play. It was the last play he did, having spent the previous 16 years concentrating on television and his foundation.

More Legit

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    Listen: How Phoebe Waller-Bridge Shocked Herself With 'Fleabag'

    Both onstage and onscreen, the title character in “Fleabag” says things that are pretty outrageous — even to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the woman who created her. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Known to television audiences as the creator of Amazon’s “Fleabag” as well as BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” Waller-Bridge is making her New York stage [...]

  • Emilia review

    West End Review: 'Emilia'

    We know next to nothing of the “Dark Lady of the Sonnets” — nothing beyond what Shakespeare tells us in 26 stanzas of overblown verse. Her eyes were nothing like the sun, of course – “raven black,” so he claims – and her lips were either paler than coral, as in Sonnet 130, or else [...]

  • Guys and Dolls

    'Guys and Dolls' Getting Remade at TriStar (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Guys and Dolls,” the venerable Broadway musical, is set to return to the big screen. TriStar Pictures has purchased remake rights to the original Damon Runyon short stories about gamblers and gangsters that inspired the shows, as well as the rights to the Broadway musical with its book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and [...]

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content