×

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.”

Popular on Variety

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.

More Legit

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

  • Frozen review musical

    Warmth and Humor Pervade Pantages Production of 'Frozen' the Musical

    In 2013, Disney’s “Frozen” hit screens like a 100 mile-per-hour snowball, sparking a pop cultural phenomenon in which little girls and boys pranced about dressed in Anna and Elsa and Olaf costumes while belting aloud “Let It Go,” Elsa’s feminist anthemic response to ice powers rendering her a societal outcast. The animated movie won two [...]

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton review

    'My Name is Lucy Barton': Theater Review

    Laura Linney is in love. Just watch the radiant expression on her face as she wraps her arms around the character of Lucy Barton, a role she played in two separate engagements at the Bridge Theater in London, and is now reprising on Broadway in “My Name is Lucy Barton.” The feeling is obviously mutual, [...]

  • 'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to

    'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to Air Weekly, Syndicate Nationally (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal” will become nationally syndicated, marking a first for a program about the Great White Way. Beginning in fall 2020, the monthly show will increase frequency to air weekly. The show is hosted and executive-produced by 12-time Emmy Award winner Tamsen Fadal, a news anchor at WPIX, the channel that initially [...]

  • Laura Linney My Name Is Lucy

    Listen: What Laura Linney Learns From Bad Shows

    For Laura Linney, every stage experience is a learning experience. “Even the bad ones!” she cheerfully declared on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “Even the ones that are really bad, and I’ve been really bad in some things,” continued the Emmy winner, currently back on Broadway [...]

  • 'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With

    'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With CAA (EXCLUSIVE)

    Zawe Ashton has signed with CAA, Variety has learned. Most recently seen on Broadway in the hit revival of Harold Pinter’s “Betryal,” Ashton is the definition of a multi-hyphenate. In addition to being an in-demand actress, Ashton is a director, playwright and author. While earning critical raves for “Betrayal,” Ashton made her debut as a [...]

  • Michael Feinstein Kristin Chenoweth Sutton Foster

    Jerry Herman Memorial Set for Feb. 3 at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

    A memorial service for Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Michael Feinstein is producing the tribute, which will feature performances from a number of notable legit stars, including Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Bernadette Peters and Betty Buckley. Angela [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content