Deirdre O’Connell’s Tony Award Hasn’t Changed Her Life — And She’s More Than Okay With That

Becky Nurse of Salem
Kyle Froman

After spending the last 30-plus years as an Off Broadway favorite, actor Deirdre O’Connell (“Becky Nurse of Salem,” “Corsicana”) walked away from the 2022 Tony Awards with a trophy for her work in “Dana H.” How has that best actress Tony changed her life?

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“It’s hasn’t! Isn’t that weird?” O’Connell said on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. “In terms of there being people calling me up and saying, ‘Will you come and do this? Will you come and do that?’ I am not experiencing that. It may be it’s just the age I am, that it’s not going to be quite like that magical [change].”

But she’s more than okay with that. “I’m very happy doing this,” she said of her current role in Sarah Ruhl’s new play, “Becky Nurse of Salem.” “I feel like I’ve landed exactly where I would have wanted to.”

Onstage, O’Connell has become known for performances that feel effortlessly alive, idiosyncratic and authentic. She’s also done plenty of film and TV work (“Outer Range,” “The Path”), but she spoke on Stagecraft about why she calls the theater home.

“I think about why is I’m so attracted to stage,” she said. “Stage is hard! There’s days when I get up and think, ‘Why do I want to do this? I am so scared!’ I’m not a person who doesn’t have stage fright. I do. … I’m filled with dread just like anybody.”

She continued, “Partly [the attraction to the stage] has to do with the fact that I’m in a struggle with being an introverted person who’s forcing herself into being in relation to humans, and then searching for a moment when you’re not self-conscious. Searching for a moment when the task is so big, the feelings that you’re working with are so big, the thing is so fine that you find that moment when you’re not self-conscious. I think that’s my struggle and search. And I rarely can feel that in front of a camera.”

Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, O’Connell talked about honing her instincts, wearing a lot of hoodies, and when she speaks up in rehearsal — and when she doesn’t.

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.