Colm Meaney Shoots For the 'Moon'

One of the hottest shows in New York right now is playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.  A revival of Eugene O'Neill's A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, directed by Howard Davies, which played to very raving audiences at London's Old Vic Theatre, comes to New York with it's amazing cast intact and ready to take New York by storm.  The celebrated cast of Kevin Spacey, Eve Best, Colm Meaney, Billy Carter and Eugene O'Hare are reprising their roles for the Broadway revival, which officially opened April 9 and closes on June 10.

I had the amazing chance to speak with one of the stars of the show. Colm Meaney and I talked recently about the production before the show opened. Meaney created the role of Phil in the highly acclaimed Old Vic Theatre production of A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN and was subsequently nominated for the Olivier Award for his performance.  He won a well-deserved Obie Award for his outstanding performance in THE CIDER HOUSE RULES. Many audiences may know Meaney for his television and film appearances. His fim credits include THE COMMITMENTS, THE SNAPPER, for which he won a Golden Globe Award, THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE, CON AIR, MYSTERY ALASKA, UNDER SIEGE, THE ENGLISHMAN THAT WENT UP A HILL BUT CAME DOWN A MOUNTAIN, INTO THE WEST and  How Harry Became a Tree for which he received a Best Actor Award at the Irish Film Awards. His television credits include COVERT ONE: THE HADES FACTOR," "SCARLETT," "RANDOM PASSAGE," "BOSS LEAR," "THE UNIT," "LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL Intent." But many people will remember Meaney for his role as Chief Miles O'Brien on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE.

Meaney and I had a great conversation about things recently before a one of the previews about the show and life as an actor.  So it begins….

TJ: So, this isn't your first time performing on Broadway?

MEANEY: No, it's not. It's been awhile though. My last show in New York was in 1999. I did Dr. Larch in THE CIDER HOUSE RULES at the Atlantic Theatre Company. Prior to that, it was 1987 to 1988 with BREAKING THE CODE on Broadway with Derek Jacobi.

TJ: And that was your first time on Broadway?

MEANEY: Yes, it was.

TJ: How does it feel to be back?

MEANEY: It's great. It's been a long time…a lot of water under the bridge. You know, with this production in particular, it's a real pleasure. It's a terrific production and a terrific company.

TJ: How did you get involved with the show?

MEANEY: Well, I got a call from Howard to talk to me about the project. I kind of split my time these days between Los Angeles and Spain. We spent this last summer in Spain and finally got back to Los Angeles in September.  They had called me in late June – July and I was a bot reluctant, to be honest with you. In terms of the family, it was a bit complicated to commit to five months in London, you know?  I made the mistake of re-reading the play and when you read the play, you realize it's such rich, wonderful, emotional writing with great, great characters. So, I felt I had to go do it. It's been such a pleasure. Howard Davies is one of the great directors working in the theatre. He's very special and I think the production speaks to that. It's a terrific production.

TJ: Now tell me a little about your character in MOON.

MEANEY: Well, Phil Hogan is a tenant farmer. He rents the land originally from Jamie Tyrone's dad and has been there for a long time. Jamie's dad died and his mother recently died. There's a lot of uncertainty now about the future of the land. So obviously, Phil is very concerned about that and he's very aware that his daughter, Josie, has a great fondness for Jamie and Jamie seems quite fond of her. So, for him, the perfect solution to the situation would be to get Josie and Jamie together. That would solve the whole thing. They'd be happy and he would be happy.  It seems like a win-win situation all around. He basically connives and schemes to achieve all of this.

TJ: Now you have been doing this show since last September, right?

MEANEY:  Yes, we opened in London in September. We played from September through Christmas in London.

TJ:  And it's opening in New York on April 9th. Do you find it's difficult as an actor to get out there every night  doing the same role show after show and keeping it fresh for each audience?

MEANEY: Well, I won't say I haven't with this. In the past, the longest I did was with BREAKING THE CODE here, which ran for almost a year.  I have found it's almost cyclical.  You had six weeks where it was up and really good and fresh, then you would have six weeks where you felt it was a bit of a drive and a strain. Then something would happen to bring it to life again. But I must say that with this show, it hasn't.  Maybe it's because it hasn't run that long.  We had almost a four month run in London. It may also be the nature of the writing. The writing is so fantastic and the production is so good that we haven't had that kind of period yet.

TJ: And what an amazing cast you have! It must be like a dream come true for you?

MEANEY:  I think it is…I think it is!  Howard has expressed it a few times how it's one of those situations where everything falls into place. The right people at the right time with the right material.

TJ: Had you worked with any of them before?

MEANEY:  No. I knew Kevin sort of briefly socially before but I had never worked with him.

TJ: Is there a difference between doing theatre in London and doing a show on Broadway?

MEANEY: I don't think so. I think there are similarities between the West End and Broadway. I think both places have a great tradition of theatre and great knowledgeable theatre audiences. The Old Vic is a little different in that it is a company. You're very aware of the history of the place and it's a very special history.  The fact that Olivier founded The National Theatre there and the people who work there. My favorite actor of that bunch was always Ralph Richardson and to see his name on the dressing room door every night you go in there gets the juices going.  So that was very special.

TJ: And Kevin Spacey was very responsible for reviving theatre at the Old Vic .

MEANEY: Yes, very much so. He is the Artistic Director there now.

TJ: You were nominated for an Olivier Award for your work in the show at the Old Vic.  Do you remember your thoughts when you found out about the nomination?

MEANEY: We had closed the show and the nominations came out in February. So, I was back in Los Angeles and I got a call from John Richardson, the manager at the Vic to congratulate me telling me I got nominated.  It was very pleasing. By that stage, I had kind of moved on. I hadn't forgotten about the play and was aware we were coming here with it. It was on the back burner kind of thing.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

TJ: Of course, you have done many film roles like THE COMMITMENTS but everybody knows you from your work in the STAR TREK series as Chief Miles O'Brien.  So that sort of makes you like an icon for science fiction buffs?

MEANEY: Well, yes I guess to the STAR TREK fans, which is a kind of a world unto itself.  I always found it amusing in that it was always like I was two different actors with two different careers. There was the STAR TREK audience who knew me for that work exclusively and then there were people who knew me from the films I had made, particularly the independent and European films, who were almost unaware that I had even done STAR TREK.  So it was kind of nice because it was like I had two separate careers.

TJ: How long did you play the role on STAR TREK? Someone said you had the record for the second longest time on a STAR TREK series.

MEANEY: The series I was a regular on, DEEP SPACE NINE, I appeared for seven years.  But Ihad been recurring for about two years on THE NEXT GENERATION. The character was created on THE NEXT GENERATION and then they moved it over to DEEP SPACE NINE to develop the character further.  So it was about nine years total. I think Michael Dorn has the record. But yeah, it was a good long stint.

TJ: You must have a lot of good memories from that experience.

MEANEY: You know it was a good show. It was well written for the most part and we had a good bunch there. We all got along well together. I was very fortunate as well that Rick Berman, the executive producer, was there. I was very reluctant to go over to DEEP SPACE NINE as I was happy with my recurring role on THE NEXT GENERATION. I was able to go and do other projects whenever I wanted.  I was reluctant to give up that freedom.  But Rick promised me that if I did the show, he would a find a way to let me out to any feature that I really wanted to do. It actually worked. For seven years, he was true to his word.

TJ: Having worked in all the mediums, do you have a preference of theatre work or film or television work?

MEANEY: At different times I think you have a different preference. I'm really glad to get back to the theatre. It's been seven years since I have done a play and it was time to get back into it. I am really enjoying it now.  But I know at the end of the run, I will be thinking, "That's enough of this now." I mean eight shows a week is a bit tough and it will be time to do something else.  I do like working on independent films where it is a smaller budget and less pressure.  The pace is also quicker than that of a big budget film.  You are shooting at a fairly fast pace. Sitting around for three or four days can be quite draining. So I guess in terms of film or television, I would say filming an  independent feature.

TJ:  Any movies or upcoming appearances on TV people should look for you?

MEANEY: I just did a MEN IN TREES two part episode. That should be airing pretty soon on ABC.  And I have got a feature with Laurence Fishburne, which has been kind of delayed. It's called FIVE FINGERS and it's in the can and hopefully will be coming out soon.  You never know when the publicity people will feel it is a good time to release the film.  That's about it for now. I will finish this up and move onto the next thing.

TJ: Let find out a little more about the off-stage life of Colm Meaney with a section of the interview called My Favorite Things. What is your favorite food?

MEANEY: My favorite food is actually probably my mother's cooking. She's a wonderful cook who cooks amazing roast meats and things like that.

TJ: OK, as a fellow Irishman, let me ask you…do you like corn beef and cabbage?

MEANEY: No, I am not a big fan.

TJ:  Thank you. I get a lot of grief from people who expect that because I am Irish, that would be a favorite of mine.  Ok, your favorite city?

MEANEY:  I suppose that would be Paris.  I have some very good friends there and I love the atmosphere there which you don't get anywhere else.  Great food, great wine.  Just something about it.

TJ: Alright, what's your favorite season?

MEANEY: Well, living in Los Angeles for over twenty years, you don't have seasons. But I think springtime is a lovely time of year.  

TJ: Favorite Holiday?

MEANEY: I did the Trans-Siberian Express, the old Orient Express with my older daughter afew years ago from Beiijing to Moscow and that was a pretty special holiday.

TJ: And finally, if you weren't an actor, what would you be doing as a profession?

MEANEY:  I have no idea. I have never actually done anything else.  I guess I'd be a doorman or something.

TJ: Great.  Well, I know you have to get to the theatre so thanks for your time and break a leg!

MEANEY: Thanks, TJ!

Many thanks to the talented Colm Meaney for an insightful interview. Again, he will be appearing in MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN through June 10th at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre at 256 West 47th Street..  Performances are Tuesdays through Saturday evenings at 7 PM with matinees Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. For tickets, you can visit, call (212) 307-4100 or visit the Box Office at the theatre. So until next time, folks, ciao and remember, theatre is my life.

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From This Author TJ Fitzgerald

TJ Fitzgerald has been interviewing theatre’s finest talent with since January 2006. He has been active in the New England Theatre scene both as (read more...)