Age and Hometown: 25; Stamford, CT
Currently: Giving a combustible Broadway debut performance as Ronnie Shaughnessy, an AWOL son with an attention-getting plan to greet the Pope, in the Broadway revival of John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves.
Movie Maven: Acting never entered Abbott’s mind as a kid, though he became a film buff as a teen staffer at a video store. “I watched movies constantly, so the seed was planted,” he says. A theater class at a local community college sparked Abbott to try a professional acting course at HB Studio taught by stage pro Anne Jackson. “I loved it,” he says, and his quirky handsomeness and shy demeanor quickly led to off-Broadway roles at Second Stage (Good Boys and True), the New Group (Mouth to Mouth) and Roundabout (The Overwhelming). Of his varied resume, most recently an Oedipal storyline in That Face at MTC, Abbott notes, “I’m young, but I feel like I can connect with [a play’s] emotional reality.”
Blue Crew: Abbott kicks off the second act of The House of Blue Leaves by arming himself for a violent stunt while delivering a hilarious monologue about his character’s crazy family. “I’ve never done anything like this, where I engage an audience directly, which is so cool,” he says of John Guare’s comic rant. The young actor felt no pressure from his stage dad, Ben Stiller, who played Abbott's role in a 1986 Broadway revival of the play. “He hasn’t given me advice, but he’s definitely given support,” Abbott says of Stiller. In fact, the starry Blue Leaves company is so close, they routinely go out for drinks and a late dinner after the show on Saturday night. “People always say, ‘My cast is so nice,’ but this one really is special.”
Big & Small Screen: Good things are happening for Abbott away from the theater: He’s featured in the soon-to-be released Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which the Olsen twins' younger sister Elizabeth flees an abusive cult, and plays a “too nice” boyfriend in HBO’s forthcoming twentysomething comedy series Girls. “Today was crazy," he says. "I filmed in the morning, then went to the theater to do two shows.” Looking to the future, Abbott says, “Film is equally a passion as theater, but I’ve been lucky to work in New York with [movie and TV] directors who like theater actors. I don’t feel L.A. beckoning at all.”