Although he's now known to most American fans for his starring role on HBO's Looking -- in which he played Kevin, the boss and secret lover of Jonathan Groff's Patrick -- British actor Russell Tovey had his big break was as Rudge in the original 2004 stage production of The History Boys, which eventually toured to broadway (opening April 23, 2006), and then around the world.
Currently starring as a straight, outdoorsy bloke in BBC drama Banished, Tovey is back on Broadway this fall in the much-anticipated revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, directed by Ivo van Hove, which began previews yesterday and opens November 12.
A View From the Bridge debuted on Broadway in 1955 (it was a flop) and then Miller revised and had a better reception. This is its fourth Broadway revival; the last one, in 2009, included Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson (who won a Tony for her performance), and Jessica Hecht. This new staging received raves in London, and won three Olivier awards -- for Best Actor (Mark Strong), Best Revival, and Best Director (van Hove).
The play, set in 1950s America, is about an Italian-American family who lives near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. And while the play retains its cast from London, Tovey is the newest addition. He plays Rodolpho, an illegal immigrant, who comes to America and "completely turns everything upside down" for Eddie Carbone, who has agreed to house him and his brother, Marco.
It turns out he's juggling his onstage commitment with the filming of the Looking movie, written by Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan, that will premiere sometime in 2016. And he told Billboard, "I read the Looking script the other day, and I cried my eyes out. It's beautiful... It's just wonderful but incredibly painful to be in that show and know that... that's it. Because we loved it so much."
So here's a few things you can expect from Tovey in A View From the Bridge:
He's a blonde. If you follow Tovey's Instagram account, you already know he's dyed his hair for the role:
There's no props or set, so it's just Tovey and the rest of the cast, up close and exposed:
"It is just this white box that the actors are kind of spat into, and you're there. As an actor, it's incredibly exposing. Incredibly open. There's nowhere to hide. There's nothing to hide behind. You are there. And all that matters is the shapes your body's making and the words you're saying. And that becomes so important. It's definitely -- as a theatrical experience -- it's incredibly immersive for an audience. And the fact that there's seats onstage for this is something I think is really going to be exciting." [Billboard]
He sings a "tiny bit":
"Paper Doll" is the No. 1 hit that his character Rodolfo sings. As Tovey explained to Billboard:
"I've never been paid to sing. I've sung on a karaoke stage. A lot. But have I sung where someone's been giving me a wage? No. Well, actually, we sang a tiny bit in The History Boys, didn't we? We had kind of like, 'Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye' songs, with a little bit of a routine. But this is... I mean, ['Paper Doll'] is only like five lines, and then my character gets cut off. But, it's a nice five lines, and it kind of comes out of nowhere. So, yeah, it's been fun."
Although his character is an Italian immigrant, he's the most "American" guy in the play:
"They say that Rodolpho -- Ivo was saying -- is actually the most American guy in all the play. Because he's the one that's set on the American dream, he wants to be American, he's got all of these plans. He wants to sing and dance. He wants to go to Broadway. He's completely embracing what it is to live the American dream. And for Eddie, that's kind of very disconcerting, because he's a solid, very, very proud working man. He's a laborer. That's all he knows. They might see someone [doing] a bit of singing, a bit of vaudeville every now and then. But it's not something that's part of his world at all. And suddenly, he's got this guy in the house that's wooing everybody, and being this kind of firework that is uncontrollable."
He'll have to work the filming of Looking around his stage schedule:
"I have to go on my days off. So they've scheduled it to work around me. I have a Sunday matinee, I fly to San Francisco, I film all day Monday, and I've got the red eye back."