Julie White is back on Broadway in her first leading role since winning a 2007 Best Actress Tony Award for The Little Dog Laughed. Fresh off the heels of her recently canceled sitcom Go On, White is now headlining this year’s Tony-winning Best Play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The TV and stage star plays Masha, the movie star sister of Kristine Nielsen and David Hyde Pierce, who arrives back at the family home with some unsettling news and a hot young boyfriend. Below, the always entertaining White gives Broadway.com the scoop on returning to the Great White Way, finding the perfect TV project and more.
It's great to have you back on Broadway! Are you having the time of your life in Vanya?
My god, it’s fun to do. I can’t tell you! It’s so much fun to get a big, whorey laugh out there with my terrible Norma Desmond imitation. And can you believe that cheap blowjob joke I’m doing? [Laughs.] The company has been so magnificent; it’s not easy having someone come in that has such a different take the role. They have just embraced it and gone with it.
How is your Masha different than the role's creator, Sigourney Weaver? Yours seems more like an action movie star.
One of the things that scared me about this is that Sigourney is such a big movie star, so she had the audience expectation already in her pocket. I don’t think of myself that way at all. I felt like I had to really look at the script. I think [Masha] did these sexy, killer movies, and there’s five of them. The only person I can think of that’s done five of the same franchise is Bruce Willis. So I definitely was thinking that she should be like that.
You said in your last interview with Broadway.com that you’ve played the mother to hot boys. Are you taking full advantage of being in the opposite situation with Masha's boy-toy Spike [Creed Garnick]?
Oh god, it’s so embarrassing that I have this ridiculously young boyfriend in the play. I think that on television and in film I will continue to be the mother to hot boys until, inevitably, I am their grandmother. But, for eight shows a week, I’m making out with one.
How did this come about for you? Had you seen the play?
No! I am a huge fan, as anyone who knows him is, of Nicky Martin, the director, and when Nicky was nominated for a Tony, I was so pleased for him. I called him to say congratulations, and he said, "Oh darling, this is a role that you should play," and I said, "Well, you know, if she ever leaves the show…" and he said, "Well, as a matter of fact..." I was waiting to hear whether Go On was going to be picked up—and I really thought it was. So, when I got the terrible, sad news that we were not going to go back, I just called Nicky and said, "Okay, I’m in."
How does movie star Masha compare to Julie, the award winning stage and screen star? Is there a lot of you in her?
She’s just so mean! Isn’t she? I think I’ve made her a lot more of a monster, especially at the beginning. She’s so consumed with jealousy, really, for Sonia. There’s a lot of family stuff in there. I had some friends from Texas come and see the play, and they were like, "Oh, this has a lot of aspects from your life in it." [Though], Masha revels in this ridiculously youthful hair she has, and I personally am embarrassed by it. There’s a lot of "hair acting" in the play,
You’ve done comedy in everything from Shakespeare to Douglas Carter Beane. Are there any serious roles you yearn to play?
I’m not one of those people who’s like, "I’ve always wanted to give my Hedda [Gabler]." If I did play Hedda, I would find all the humor in it. I think she’s just funny. My Lady Macbeth would probably be funny. I think that there are laughs in all aspects of life. I’m not a planner; stuff comes along and you read it, and if it scares you or if you think, "Oh my god, this is so good. I hope I don’t screw it up," then you should probably do it.
After winning a Tony Award, did anything change out in L.A.? Do they care about that out there?
Some people do, sure. Some people have no idea. It’s like somebody gave you a gold star to put on your lapel. I guess it’s like going from a private to a sergeant.
What do you love about living in New York again?
Everything! I live in Brooklyn and I love all the hipsters and all the artisanal bacon you can get here now. I consider New York my home and L.A. a place that I go. I always say I go with an empty sack and try to fill it with as much money as possible to bring back to New York.
Do you think you’ll return to TV after this play? What existing TV series would you want to join?
I want to be on Game of Thrones! I’ve read all those freaking books and everything and I look like that woman [Michelle Fairley, who played Lady Stark]. I would love to be on Downton Abbey, too. I loved Go On, but I think it would be super fun to be on one of those culty kind of shows, that everyone just adores. That would really be great, to be telling a story that everyone was so, so interested in. Frankly, I wish they would do The Bachelorette for old people. And I could be the bachelorette.
Would all the contestants be hot young guys like Spike?
No! I want ABC to find me an age appropriate husband, like they just did for Desiree. I wouldn’t be in a bikini a lot of the time like she was, but they could find something for me to wear and send us off to Pago Pago to have a fantasy suite date. Of course me and another 50-year-old in the fantasy suite, we’d be like,"‘Let’s take a nap."
Don't miss Julie White in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike now through August 25.