2005 Tony Awards Q&A: Billy Crystal

Nominated for the 2005 Tony for Special Theatrical Experience, Billy Crystal is a performer who needs very little introduction given his success both in front of and behind the scenes on the big and small screens. He has hosted the Grammy Awards three times and, the Oscars eight times. His film work includes Running Scared, Throw Momma From the Train, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers I and II, Mr. Saturday Night, Forget Paris, Hamlet, Deconstructing Harry, Father's Day, My Giant, Analyze This and That, and America's Sweethearts. 700 Sundays, which marks his Broadway debut has broken box office records left and right and has already won a Drama Desk award, and an Outer Critic Circle Award.

How would you rate the 700 Sundays Broadway experience in your career?

This has absolutely been the greatest experience of my entire life. To get to walk out of my front door onto the stage every night, it's just simply unbelievable.

When we started this journey, we only did 14 performances in La Jolla, before we said 'What are we waiting for? Let's go!' because the show was just ready. Every night that I walk out there, and it sounds like one of these clichés, but it's a privilege to walk out on that stage every night, through the front door of my house to that audience. I get to tell the stories of these people who I loved, and who helped make me a man, and what I get back from them every night, is the most extraordinary feeling that I've ever had in my life. It's better than anything I've ever felt, and I can barely describe it.

The show's extended a few times now, how do you feel about it coming to a close?

I'm very sad to see that the show is coming to an end. We've extended again, and we could extend 3 years or so they tell me, and I don't know what I'm going to do without it.

I'm already having this sense of separation anxiety, going 'awwwww' when I think about it.

There's word about it potentially being filmed or toured…

We're going to do something, and I'm not sure of the specifics yet, we may tour it, and we may then come back, but it's definitely not the end of this show. I find some solace in that but, I promised my family that I'd be home for the summer. I've got this granddaughter who I've barely seen. I've seen her only 5 days since Christmas, and they live in California. If they lived here, I'd just keep going till I couldn't stand anymore, because it's that much fun for me, and it's of that much importance to me. I promised though, and nothing can take away the time of her being 2 years old, and if I miss that time, I'd be really angry with myself. Nothing else can take the place of that, not even this show.

How does the Tony nomination fit into that plan?

I was very excited to be nominated, and it wasn't unexpected, but you never know, and I always tend to be on the darker side of things, so I went 'great' when I heard the news. I'm very excited about it.

You lobbied to be included in the Play category, a change which ultimately didn't occur – what was the motivation there?

The thing about our category that I'm sorry about is that it excludes direction, writing, set design, and lighting. I think that all of those are quite exquisite in our show. When the decision was made to put it in this category, I said 'ok, that's what it is,' but I think that, no, I know that, we're more than an event. I know that what we've accomplished with our show is a very moving, funny play and that's what I wish it was considered as. That doesn't take away from how happy I am to be here though, I'll just share the nomination with all those others.

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From This Author Robert Diamond

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