Hugh Dancy


By Mark Peikert

The actor proves he's more than just a pretty face in Broadway's painfully sexy 'Venus in Fur.'

Over the show's 90 minutes, the characters' S&M-laced tension continues to mount, a development that wasn't immediately apparent to Dancy when he read the script. "Clearly, that's the topic," he says. "But that's not what came across to me. So it kind of shocked me when people said, 'Oh, you're doing that? It's so hot!' But what the hell, that's great. I'll roll with it." (For his part, Bobbie remembers set designer John Lee Beatty turning to him after a run-through and saying, "Shouldn't you be a little ashamed of yourself?")

Dancy has never coasted on his good looks and charisma (if you can see past his leading-man turn in the 2009 bubbly rom-com Confessions of a Shopaholic), particularly in his stage work. And his eagerness to travel to uneasy places was what struck Bobbie the most in his audition for Venus. "He went from being a brutal, fierce intellectual to being a submissive wife begging to be killed," Bobbie recalls. "He's fearless. I think his sexuality is so clear to him that he's not intimidated to examine every aspect of the role."

Despite a history of playing gay characters, Dancy's main requirement when it comes to choosing his projects is the script. "[A character’s sexuality isn't] a factor in whether I'll do a role or not," he says. "If something like this comes up and it's a great character, I'll want to do it. Basically, I'll ask myself, What are the reasons I shouldn't do this? And when you look around and you realize you can't really find any, then you have to do it." He pauses and grins. "Or when the only reasons are I'm having a nice time and I'd like to just sit around."

Venus in Fur opens November 8 at New York City’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.