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Listen: The Broadway Coups and Controversies of Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins

Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins are two of Britain’s acting greats. Their long careers across stage, film and TV have given them plenty of showbiz stories to tell — and they share a few of them on the latest episode of Variety‘s theater podcast, Stagecraft.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

Pryce (“The Two Popes,” “Miss Saigon,” “Game of Thrones”) and Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park,” “The Killing of Sister George”) appeared together on the podcast to talk about their current Broadway outing, “The Height of the Storm.” The two of them had somehow never worked together before co-starring in the Florian Zeller play, first in London and then in New York. But each of them has spent a lot of time on Broadway in shows like “Comedians” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (for Pryce) and “Indiscretions” and “Doubt” (for Atkins), and on the podcast they revealed a few choice tidbits from their previous adventures in New York.

Atkins, for one, caused a sensation back in the ’60s when she starred in “The Killing of Sister George.” It was a controversial show that touched on gay themes, and she became the talk of the town, she remembered, adding that there were newspaper spreads of her outfits — including her trailblazing miniskirts. “It probably went to my head,” she said of all the attention. “I probably was disgraceful while I was here.”

Pryce, meanwhile, spoke about the casting controversy around his role in “Miss Saigon” — a debate over “yellow face” that preceded Broadway’s current conversations around diversity and authenticity. He also revealed that he might have made his musical theater debut in “The Phantom of the Opera” instead of “Miss Saigon.”

The actor recalled that he’d come close to taking the role of Phantom after Michael Crawford, the originator of the part, left it. He might have done it, too — but then he finally saw the show. “This will shock and horrify millions of people — I didn’t like it!” he said with a laugh. “Everyone was wonderful in it and it was a fantastic production, but I didn’t think that I could bring anything different to [the role]. I would just become part of the machine.”

On Stagecraft, the duo also revealed why one of them enjoys screen work and one of them doesn’t; why they both love acting in New York; and why one of them feels too old to play the other one’s spouse.

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsStitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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