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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Broadway

Steppenwolf's production of Albee's classic arrives on Broadway.

Carrie Coon on Going from Tomboy to Playboy Bunny to Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Carrie Coon on Going from Tomboy to Playboy Bunny to Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Carrie Coon at Library Hotel photographed by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com
I'd run in to rehearsal in my shin guards, all sweaty and ready for the big kiss.

Age & Hometown: 31; Copley, Ohio

Current Role: A Broadway debut as Honey, a “mousy” professor’s wife with a penchant for brandy in Edward Albee's classic drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Soccer & the Stage: On her family’s farm in Ohio, Coon grew up “running around barefoot” with her sister and three brothers. “I have an idea of myself as a quiet, observant child,” she says, “but when I put this to my parents, they laughed their asses off. They said I was bossy and loud and wanted a lot of attention.” Coon, who played sports in her brothers’ Bugle Boy and Ocean Pacific hand-me-downs, insists she “looked like a boy” until junior year of high school. “I was a big jock,” recalls Coon, who headed to Mount Union College to play Division III soccer after graduation. On a whim during freshman year, she auditioned for a college production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To her shock, she snagged the leading role of Titania and was faced with a new challenge, trying to juggle soccer and theater. “I’d run in to rehearsal in my shin guards, all sweaty and ready for the big kiss,” she jokes.

Scantily Clad: After attending grad school at the University of Wisconsin, Coon scored a guest spot in the short-lived NBC series The Playboy Club. Clad in a satin bunny suit, she got pointers from her co-star, Tony winner Laura Benanti. “I’d never done television, so it was great to talk to Laura about approaching it from a theater background,” she says. To further her stage career, Coon moved to Chicago—but tried not to get too excited when she landed a callback for Steppenwolf's high-profile revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “You have to let stuff go, or you’ll get bitter and angry,” she explains of her audition strategy. After a “demoralizing” Budweiser audition in a skimpy bathing suit, Coon checked her voicemail and found out she been cast as Honey. “There I was in the hallway, jumping up and down in my bikini,” she says with a laugh. “I had finally gotten a wonderful, legitimate role!”

A Little Brandy: In Chicago and later in Washington D.C., Coon earned rave reviews in Edward Albee’s groundbreaking drama alongside Steppenwolf vets Amy Morton and Tracy Letts, “two of the greatest stage actors alive.” The duo advised Coon “not to approach it as an iconic play, but as just another script.” Following their advice, the actress rebuilt the character of Honey from scratch, starting with her excessive drinking. “Playing drunk is very technical,” Coon explains, citing a carousing cousin as her inspiration. “I once spent some time with her while she was really drunk, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is gonna get me a job.'” Although Coon feels prepared to make her boozy Broadway debut, she’s sometimes stunned to be on stage at all. “The acting thing still feels like kind of a lark,” she admits. “It’s a little side road I took, and it’s turned into something much bigger than I ever expected it to be. I feel so fortunate.”

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