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Private Lives - Broadway

Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross star in Coward's comic masterpiece.

Private Lives Star Paul Gross on His Days in a Mountie Uniform and Bringing Anarchy to the Stage

Private Lives Star Paul Gross on His Days in a Mountie Uniform and Bringing Anarchy to the Stage
Paul Gross photographed by Jenny Anderson for
My wife has never broken a record over my head!

Age & Hometown: 50; Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Current Role: Making his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s classic comedy Private Lives as Elyot, a newlywed who ditches his bride to rekindle his love for his ex-wife (Kim Cattrall), but quickly remembers why their marriage ended in the first place.

Mountie Man: Canadian TV veteran Paul Gross is best known for playing Constable Benton Fraser on the '90s series Due South. “The durability of Due South worldwide has been puzzling; it must be the dog or the suit,” he laughs about his Husky co-star and “Mountie” uniform. “If you like to stand at attention all day long, it’s a terrific suit to wear because you can’t slouch. The collar was so stiff it would decapitate you!” Gross also works behind the camera as a screenwriter and director and took home a Genie Award (the Canadian Oscar) for 2008’s World War I movie Passchendaele.“It’s all part of the same pursuit—to tell stories, entertain people and provoke thoughts,” he says, noting that writing is his favorite occupation. “I like the solitude of [writing], yet here I am doing a play. I eventually get tired of sitting in a room with my own dumb thoughts. I need to be in a room full of people with their dumb thoughts too.”

Onstage Anarchy: In Private Lives Gross suits up as dapper Englishman Elyot. “It’s always nice to wear a tuxedo, and getting to play that sort of leisure class between the World Wars is fabulous. They had an amazing life…traveling, drinking and smoking all the time.” Despite his character’s outer gloss, Gross notes he has intense inner anger. “Elyot is an anarchist. He’s born to a certain class and understands their manners and can [behave well] when called upon, but inside he doesn’t believe in any of it.” The character’s recklessness leads to heated arguments with his on-again off-again spouse Amanda (Cattrall). So, does Gross see any similarities between Amanda and Elyot’s tumultuous relationship and his marriage of 23 years to actress Martha Burns? “We’ve had fights that start because one of us is completely missing the other’s point, but no, my wife has never broken a record over my head!”

Friendly Neighbors: After his run in Private Lives, Gross will return behind the camera to direct Hyena Road, a film about Canadian troops in Afghanistan. “There are very few human pursuits where you crystallize so many big questions,” he says of his attraction to war movies. For now, he is enjoying his first foray on the Great White Way. “I’ve seen tons of shows on Broadway over the years and thought it’d be great to do something here, but never really imagined I would because I’m not part of this circuit,” he says. “I’m so glad I did. I can’t tell you how much fun it is going to work and having people like Stockard Channing, Samuel L. Jackson and Alan Rickman across the street. I probably won’t get a chance to see their shows because I’m working, but I like knowing they’re there!”

Photographed at The Lambs Club at The Chatwal Hotel.

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