Two widely respected actors with a plethora of stage and screen credits to their name have teamed up for Eugene O'Neill's powerful play Long Day's Journey Into Night, currently showing at the Apollo Theatre.
David Suchet is probably most widely known for his spellbinding tv portrayal of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, the twinkly-eyed Belgian detective known for using his "little grey cells". He has won Variety Club awards for his roles as John in David Mamet's Oleanna and Antonio Salieri in a revival of Amadeus. His portrayal of tycoon Robert Maxwell in 2007's BBC drama Maxwell earned him an International Emmy and he was appointed a CBE in 2011 for his services to drama.
Laurie Metcalf shot to worldwide fame in 1988 as Jackie Harris, the long-suffering sister of wisecracking Roseanne Conner in the nine season tv smash Roseanne. Her numerous screen roles include roles in Desperate Housewives & The Big Bang Theory; one of Madonna's few decent films, Desperately Seeking Susan, and cult comedy slasher Scream 2. The three time Emmy winner has also been nominated for a SAG award, a Tony and two Golden Globes. Her 1983 Steppenwolf theatre performance as Darlene in Balm In Gilead won her rave reviews and an Obie Award and the last few years have seen her take on a number of diverse Broadway roles.
Long Day's Journey Into Night was written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill in 1941 but wasn't published until 1956, three years after his death. Considered by many his masterwork it posthumously won him the 1957 Pulitzer Award for Drama.
The intense, semi-autobiographical piece focuses on the themes of addiction and family dysfunction. First performed in the UK in 1958, the current revival has met with an overwhelmingly positive critical response. The show's stars kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with London Theatre Direct to help convey their passion for this extraordinary piece of theatre.
David, you have now performed back to back in plays by two of the 20th Century's greatest writers, Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill, how do they compare and what made you take on these roles?
Both Miller and O'Neill are masters in writing about emotions whether they are family dramas or ordinary relationships. Both Joe Keller and James Tyrone are perhaps two of the great 20th Century roles for an actor
How would you sum up your character, James Tyrone?
James Tyrone is a very complex man. Coming from poverty in Ireland to becoming a hugely successful actor in America - he put money and security above the well-being of his family. A truly tragic figure
Being set in Edwardian times, how do you feel Long Day's Journey Into Night is relevant in the 21st Century?
Very relevant indeed! Irrespective of when the play was set - its' themes of family life and addiction speak to every member of our 21st Century audience.
Welcome to England, Laurie! How does it feel to make your West End debut?
Speaking for all actors everywhere, it is a dream come true to be appearing in a West End production.
Do you prefer stage or tv/film acting?
I prefer acting for the stage. Maybe because those are my roots - a handful of us started Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago right out of college.
David, you last performed on Broadway in Amadeus back in the year 2000, how does Broadway and the West End compare and what you do you think of the current state of the West End in terms of the work being produced? Do you want to perform again on Broadway?
The West End and Broadway are two mega theatre cities!! London, however, has much more diversity and many more venues. The West End is very healthy even in these hard times. I would like to return to Broadway but London's West End Theatre is closest to my heart.
Laurie, as the Great Niece of another Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Zoe Akins, was she an inspiration to want to be an actress?
I knew of my great Aunt Zoe Atkins. She won the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Maid. But growing up in a small town in Southern Illinois, I never dreamed that acting could or would be my profession
What would be your ultimate stage role that you would love to perform?
LAURIE: I would love to tackle Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. But, honestly, there's never been a role I've read on the page that I haven't wanted to tackle.
DAVID: I really don't know!! What I do know is that there are many roles - great roles - still left for me to play. All I pray is for good health!!
Could you sum up the show in one word and why should everybody come see the show?!
LAURIE: Um....I'll have to think about that one!
DAVID: Long Day's Journey into Night is a masterpiece. One of the very greatest family dramas ever written in the 20th Century. It's not done that often because it takes on huge dramatic themes. This is not light hearted entertainment. This play takes both audiences and actors on a huge emotional "journey". Every serious theatregoer has to see it.
Long Day's Journey Into Night is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 18th August.