Actors and directors still have to learn how to communicate with each other even if everyone’s speaking English.

In fact, as the director Broadway’s “The Waverly Gallery” says, stage directors have to learn to communicate with each actor in their own way.

“You speak different languages, Jeff,” exclaims Lila Neugebauer in her “Variety on Broadway” conversation, presented by City National Bank, with actor Jeff Daniels.

“We do,” concedes Daniels. But Neugebauer isn’t complaining. She calls finding a common language with every actor “one of the great pleasures of my job.”

“I’m interested in how do we find a language together that makes sure that all of your needs get met and the needs of everybody else in this room gets met,” she says, “and that we’re honoring the project of the play as we have collectively come to understand and imagine it together.”

Daniels is in the middle of a year-long run as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In the conversation, he tells Neugebauer about his creative relationship with Sorkin going back to “The Newsroom.”

“I did three years of ‘The Newsroom’ with Aaron,” says Daniels. “I never changed a word. Never asked to change a word. I have too much respect for Aaron, but that comes from the theater. I started out at Circle Repertory Company in the ’70s with Marshall W. Mason and Lanford Wilson, I would never consider going to Lanford Wilson and saying, ‘Why don’t you take another shot at this speech?’”

On stage with “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Daniels reveals to Neugebauer, he’s working with “a great company” that is willing to respond to small changes, even if it alters the performance. “If you look at me differently tonight, it’ll come back differently,” says Daniels. “It’s a dangerous way to work. I prefer it.”

Most Popular

  • Marc Malkin and Leonardo DiCaprio26th Annual

    Leonardo DiCaprio Says He Was ‘Starstruck’ By Luke Perry On Set

    Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stopped by the Variety platform to talk about his own early days as an actor. Including a time where he channeled fellow nominee Joaquin Phoenix during one of his earlier auditions. Phoenix would go on to win the SAG award that night for actor, and namecheck DiCaprio as the […]

  • Jennifer Aniston26th Annual Screen Actors Guild

    Jennifer Aniston On Hosting Her Own ‘Friends’ Reunion On Instagram

    SAG Award winner Jennifer Aniston didn’t always get every job she auditioned for, “I wanted to be a waitress at the saloon restaurant in New York City,” Aniston told Variety. “You had to be in roller skates. It was a really horrible audition.” The recent Instagram convert, Aniston was hesitant to lavish too much praise […]

  • SAG Courtney B. Vance OscarsSoWhite

    SAG Foundation President Courtney B. Vance Disappointed by Oscars’ Lack of Diversity

    SAG Foundation president and award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance doesn’t understand why last week’s Oscar nominations were so white (again). “I don’t know why because I know the projects are there,” he told Variety’s Marc Malkin at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, referring to the amount of films directed and starring people of color in 2019. Only two of […]

Access exclusive content