Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge Celebrate ‘Sea Wall/A Life’ With Star-Studded Opening Night

A star-studded audience looked on as Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge returned to the stage for their double monologue performance in “Sea Wall/A Life.”

Theater-goers and celebs including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hiddleston and John Mulaney gathered in Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre for opening night, celebrating a show tackling grief, birth and death through the eyes of two lead characters known simply as Alex and Abe.

Gyllenhaal — who plays Abe, a grieving son and new father — expressed gratitude that his family, including sister Maggie, was on hand to cheer him on. The play, he told Variety, is about the nature of humanity.

“So much of what I see in theatre is about our systems and this is a show about being a human being, just very simply about that, about all of us,” Gyllenhaal explained. “There’s a moment where the audience’s imaginations turn on, and just ‘boom’ and all of a sudden, you feel everyone go back and spend time with their family.”

But Sturridge — who plays Alex, a photographer on vacation with his daughter and wife — said that the actors’ busy schedules don’t allow for ample downtime. “Eight shows a week, so not much,” he quipped.

Popular on Variety

After a red carpet featuring fellow theatre actors and producers like Annaleigh Ashford and Jordan Roth, attendees grabbed their cocktails and headed to their seats. Laughs and cheering erupted and tears flowed through the Broadway theatre as Sturridge and Gyllenhaal delivered raw performances, leaving not a dry eye in the crowd.

During an interview at Hudson Theatre’s stage door, Simon Stephens (playwright of the first act, “Sea Wall”) noted his 10-year relationship with Sturridge and discussed the importance of the show during America’s current political turmoil.

“I hope [audiences] take away, ‘s—, Tom Sturridge is good,’” said Stephens. “I think [‘Sea Wall/A Life’] becomes a show of kindness and then a show of opportunism and I think we’re living in a time politically where we need more than ever before the capacity to be kind to one another.”

Redeye Grill hosted the after party, where stars like Nicholas Braun of “Succession” dined on sushi and dessert.

“Sea Wall/A Life” will run until Sept. 29.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge'Sea Wall / A Life' Broadway play opening night, After Party, New York, USA - 08 Aug 2019
CREDIT: Andrew H. Walker/Variety/Shutterstock

More Legit

  • Uncle Vanya review

    'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review

    Director Ian Rickson has had success with Chekhov in the past. His exquisitely balanced, tragicomic production of “The Seagull” (2007 in London, 2008 on Broadway) was well-nigh flawless with, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as painfully vulnerable as she was startlingly funny. Sadly, with his production of “Uncle Vanya,” despite felicities in the casting, lightning [...]

  • The Welkin review

    'The Welkin': Theater Review

    A life hanging perilously in the balance of charged-up, polarized opinions: This courtroom drama could easily have been titled “Twelve Angry Women.” But playwright Lucy Kirkwood (“Chimerica,” “The Children”) is far too strong and imaginative a writer for so hand-me-down a cliché. Instead she opts for “The Welkin,” an old English term for the vault [...]

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme

    Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Freestyle Love Supreme' in Exclusive Clip From Sundance Documentary

    Before turning “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” into musical phenomenons, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been found on stage, spouting off-the-cuff rhymes with his improv group, “Freestyle Love Supreme.” After performing across the globe, the troupe — founded 15 years ago by Miranda, his frequent collaborator Thomas Kail and emcee Anthony Veneziale — made its Broadway [...]

  • Ariana Grande 7 Rings

    Rodgers & Hammerstein Are Having a Moment Thanks to Ariana Grande, 'Oklahoma!'

    Jaws dropped when it was revealed that the late musical theater titans Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were granted 90% of the songwriting royalties on “7 Rings,” Ariana Grande’s 2019 No. 1 hit. The dominant motif of Grande’s song is taken from “My Favorite Things,” the cornerstone of R&H’s 1959 musical “The Sound of [...]

  • A Soldiers Play review

    'A Soldier's Play': Theater Review

    Now, that’s what I call a play! Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Soldier’s Play,” now being revived on Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company, packs plenty of dramatic tension into smoldering issues of racial justice and injustice, military honor and dishonor, and the solemn struggle to balance their harrowing demands on characters who are only [...]

  • Bess Wohl

    Listen: The Impossible Plays of Bess Wohl

    The playwright Bess Wohl is always chasing a wild idea — and she’s found that rather than scaring away her collaborators, it just makes them more eager. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I started my career thinking, oh, I’ll just write a play that’s really easy to do,” Wohl said on the latest episode [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content