BWW Interview: Victoria Clark Opens Up About Her New Projects on Stage, Screen & More!
Broadway audiences last experienced the greatness that is Victoria Clark in the 2015 revival of Gigi, and though it's been almost five years since she last graced the stage, she is keeping plenty busy.
Clark, who won a Tony Award in 2005 for her performance in The Light in the Piazza, has taken her talents to the small screen, starring both on FOX's Almost Family and the Amazon miniseries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.
When she isn't in front of the camera, Clark is growing her directorial resume. Earlier this year, she made her short film debut at the helm of The First Start, which can now be streamed on Amazon. Coming up in 2020 (March 18-22), she'll bring Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner's Love Life to the Encores! stage, starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Kate Baldwin.
The Broadway favorite recently checked in with BroadwayWorld to update us on all of her upcoming projects on stage and screen!
I understand that you just directed your first short film?
Yes! I have a former student named Maggie Politi, and she is this really hilarious, really organized person, who has recently started producing her own comedy videos and posting them online. She has this whole thing that she's bee working on called 'Theatre School Dropouts.' It's all comedy-like sketches.
So she came to me about this other project called Women in Action. She told me that she was working on these three films as a part of a bigger festival, that would be written, directed and starring women. It's this really cool project, and I'm so happy to have gotten to direct it. I think we shot the whole thing in one day, and then took a lot more time to edit it. A friend of mine, Ruben O'Malley, who had been a Director of Photography on a film that I had been in, said that he would be willing to be our DP.
And people can stream it now?
Yes! People can watch it on Amazon Prime. It's 11 minutes long and has some amazing people in it. I am so proud of it!
What have you found have been the major challenges in directing for the screen?
Part of the challenge was that I'm just now starting to feel more confident about it. I know what happens when someone says action, but I don't think actors really understand how much preparation goes into it prior to them showing up on set or arriving at rehearsals. I always used to say to myself, "Why does that director look so tired? We're just getting started!" [Laughs] If a director really does their job well, everything is already in place, and the more I direct, the more I realize that. The ground is laid for actors to do their work. For them to feel safe in the room, I like to do an incredible amount of prep work.
Directing the film was fun because it was the blind leading the blind. I did have Maggie and her producing parter, Spiro [Marcos], and they were so supportive and helpful in making everything happen. They were really great leaders.
And of course you've also been starring on Almost Family on FOX! What has that experience been like?
So joyful. I get to play opposite Timothy Busfield, who plays my husband. It's also an incredible experience! Emily Osment plays my daughter, who is a former Olympic gymnast. My character and her father have been sponging off of her for way too many years- way into her adulthood. Brittany Snow and Megalyn Echikunwoke are unbelievable. Timothy Hutton is a genius.
It's been great because we have a different director for every episode. Leslye Headland directed the pilot, and she worked on Russian Doll. Annie Weisman and Jason Katims are such great showrunners. This series is Annie's baby. She is so intelligent and funny and perceptive. She really understands. And the team of writers she has put together is just so incredible.
Does it shoot in New York?
It does! It's such a delight to have this opportunity and that it's right here. I love doing television; it's so liberating. Of course it's very different, because once you shoot that scene, it's done. You can't have second thoughts later about how you shot something earlier that day because the moment has passed. Whereas in theatre, if a scene isn't working quite the way you want it to, tomorrow night you can give it another whirl. You can make mental notes about how things can shift. So you craft a performance over days or weeks, or if you're lucky, months. You keep refining it and it's never finished. With television you go in with an idea, you talk to your colleagues or your director, and then that's it! You have that day to craft a scene.
It's a totally different animal...
It is, but I'm loving it. My next thing is that I'd love to be a series regular on something. Some one needs to hire me to do that!
Hey, if you put it out into the universe, it could happen!
It would really go nicely with directing theatre too. When the show is on hiatus, I can direct a show! Why not?!
You also appear in the new miniseries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair?
We shot that in Canada two years ago but it is just now being released. That was so much fun. It stars Patrick Dempsey and was directed by John-Jacques Annaud. I was watching it the other day and thinking about how I think he took the first take from almost every scene that we shot. Sometimes we only even did one take. He loves watching human behavior. I think he is a genius.
And what is this one about?
It's about this author who comes back to this small town in Maine to work with his former professor. In the show, he ends up trying to exonerate his professor, who is accused of murder. So he goes to try to break his writer's block, but he stays to try to help his friend. I play Jenny, who ran the local diner- coincidentally called Clark's Diner. I can't tell you if I did it, but the whole town ends up being involved in the investigation.
You also have Love Life coming up soon at NY City Center Encores!. You directed a workshop of this last year, right?
Yes, I did it at Duke.
What do you love about this musical?
I love so many things about it. It's really about two things- a marriage and America. It's often referred to as the first concept musical, because there are these big vaudeville numbers that come in a crash into the main storyline about the Cooper family. They are ironic, satiric, fun about anything from Mom getting agitated about her life, to how progress has changed the American family- about how we have gone from making things to acquiring things and the impact that has on our economy. It's been a joy to work on it so far.
I am the luckiest director in the world! They are so bright and so funny. They play the husband and wife. The musical goes through 200 years of American history, so it jumps around and they get to look back at their marriage. Because it stays in the US the whole time, you get a glimpse at what happens to the country. That is how the two stories come together.
I think it's a really great story to tell, especially in an election year. It allows us to really examine who we are as a country and figure out how we got this way. How did we end up having this huge divide? This country represents that in a way. I hope I can tell that story in an entertaining but wise way.
You still have a little bit of time to prepare for that one...
Yes, it's the second Encores! show of the season in March. I'm so happy to get to work with Jack Viertel and Rob Berman and Joanne Hunter... they are all geniuses. Production meetings are actually fun! I just enjoy their company so much. I'm going to learn so much from them.
I love what Encores! does because so many of the shows that they produce, like this one I'm sure, people haven't even heard of...
It's a really good mix this year, because they are doing this, but also Thoroughly Modern Millie, and most people have heard of Mack and Mabel. They are truly historic shows though. People don't know this one because it never had a recording made. For so many shows, the legacy depended on having a cast recording, and if you didn't have one, it was very easy to slip into obscurity.
It's been such a pleasure to try to treat this show with the respect it deserves and to work with the Weill estate and the Lerner estate. I hope people come out and support it because it's an incredible score with top-notch Broadway people.
The Light in the Piazza has been back in the news recently, with runs in the UK, LA, and now a national tour. Do you like seeing it back in the spotlight?
I am obsessed with the show, and I think the more the merrier! I love Renée Fleming. She is one of the premiere artists of our age. I have not seen it, but I would love to if I get a chance to. I am supportive of all versions of that show though. I worked on a really cool project with Renée over the summer called Penelope, that André Previn wrote with Tom Stoppard. It was really fun to be onstage with her. I'm a huge fan!