Oscar nominee James Franco, Gossip Girl queen bee Leighton Meester and Bridesmaids funny guy Chris O’Dowd are gearing up to make their Broadway debuts in Of Mice and Men on March 19—or as O’Dowd likes to think of it, losing their Broadway virginity.
“We’re going to be together for a long time, and opening night is the first time we all sleep together, and the [rehearsal] process is the courting,” he explained at a March 6 press conference for the new revival. When director Anna D. Shapiro joked that “some of us have already been sleeping together,” O’Dowd added, “I meant collectively. As an art project that James is working on.” As the cast cracked up, Franco laughed loudest of all.
With the starry trio in high demand for Hollywood projects, why is now the time to uh, lose their Broadway virginity? “If you asked me to do Cats, I would have done Cats,” O’Dowd said. “Which I’m still open to!” Franco, who described himself as a theater fan, explained, “This was the play I was waiting for. This is it! It’s an awesome role with the best director and if I don’t do this, then I’m never going to do it.” Meester, meanwhile, believes fate drew her to star in the John Steinbeck play. “It kind of chose me,” she said. “I can’t believe how cosmic and amazing it is.”
Franco, who is also a writer, director, screenwriter, producer and teacher, isn’t nervous about adding "Broadway star" to his resume. “I would say [I’m not scared], but—” O’Dowd quickly interrupted his co-star with a joke: “I feel like he should be,” he deadpanned. Franco continued, “I flirted and thought about the idea of Broadway for a long time now, but as a film actor, the commitment is always something that is scary. Having to do one character for so long, and the fear of making my debut and wanting to make a splash.”
Although Meester admitted she's feeling "pretty scared," she knows she's in the best possible hands. "When I meditate on it, I’m like, 'Oh my God,' it’s too much to handle in one thought," she said, smiling at her co-stars. "But when we’re here and taking it scene by scene and I’m with everyone in the moment, it feels so good. I feel safe."