The roles listed in Adam Godley’s Anything Goes program bio may read a bit like the opening to a joke—“a dog, a comedian, a Jewish neighbor, a Catholic saint, an eldest son, a youngest son, an only son”—but this wacky list is a good illustration of the actor’s versatililty. For Godley, theater roles both classical and contemporary, comedic and dramatic share resume space with the likes of guest appearances on Mad Men and film roles in Love, Actually and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He made his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s Private Lives, and is currently making his Broadway musical debut as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, the overeager fiancé of Hope Harcourt (played by Laura Osnes) in Anything Goes. The charming British transplant chatted with Broadway.com about his ever-increasing love of Americana, his recent Tony nomination and how leading lady Sutton Foster helped him find his musical theater legs.
You’re not known as a song and dance man; how did you end up in Anything Goes?
Not at all, the first and last time I did a musical was the original Sam Mendes production of Cabaret at the Donmar Warehouse in London, playing Cliff. I’m not a trained singer or dancer, but they sent me Anything Goes and it made me laugh so much. I thought, “I know who this guy is. I’d really like to have a go at this.”
So who is this guy?
I’ve got some friends with a three-year-old son called Cal, and even when he was a baby he was so interested in everybody and so excited by life, and I read this role and I thought, “It’s Cal!” He’s a dog with his tail wagging bottled up in this very English character. The fantastic thing is that we get to uncork Lord Evelyn and out comes this gushing fountain of champagne and this crazy Latin lover and that is such a wonderful thing to be able to work on. And, of course, if you’re going to do ["The Gypsy in Me"] you might as well be doing it with Sutton Foster.
Seriously, you’re working with one of the best performers in the business—is she giving you any pointers?
The great thing about Sutton is that she’s so fantastically modest. We’re rehearsing the thing and I’m treading on her toes, and she was so patient with me and such a delightful person that I felt so supported. The first performance was like a white wall of terror, but it’s seared on my memory because we got through it. To have audiences like it and then to get nominated for a Tony just seems crazy. It’s crazy icing.
How was your experience as a Tony nominee been so far?
It’s kind of great fun; it’s like the Olympics of interviews but everybody’s lovely, so it’s pretty cool.
You program bio is a kick! Any favorites from that list of characters?
I did Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman in London, and that play was such a thrill. The role allowed me to really lose myself in it. Martin’s writing is extraordinary and visceral, so that’s definitely a high point. Then there’s Raymond Babbitt in Rainman, which I did in London with Josh Hartnett, who was wonderful. It was exciting to explore somebody on the autistic spectrum and try and really honor that. The bigger the challenge, the more I like it because then you have the chance to give people an extraordinary experience and theater should always be an extraordinary experience.
Where is home for you?
For the last five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles. It’s a city I love and I met the love of my life there, and that helped. I’ve always felt an enormous connection to the United States, and as soon as I moved here, I knew it was a place I wanted to be. To be able to work and earn a living here is marvelous.
You love Anything Goes, you love L.A., and you’ve already told Broadway.com about your love of fried chicken: What other American standards are you in love with?
America does diners like no one else on earth, and American breakfast is pretty hard to beat. Also that expression: “the open road.” In my very limited experience, America does open road like nowhere else. For this job, I drove to New York from L.A., which I’d always wanted to do, and the landscape is just jaw-dropping. I collected a tumbleweed on the Texas/New Mexico border. It drove my partner insane, but I have it here in my New York apartment and it’s my prized possession.
Any highlights of your road trip?
The Loretta Lynn Museum in Oklahoma. I didn’t even know who Loretta Lynn was, and now I know just about everything about her.
Have you also become a country music fan?
I’m dabbling. I don’t know that I’m a convert yet, but I’m getting there.
You’re practically a cowboy.
Yep, all I need is the hat.