Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are attempting a rare feat on Broadway: They’re switching roles every performance. In the Manhattan Theatre Club’s revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, the actors alternate between playing the lead role (the cunning, assertive Regina Giddens) and a supporting one (Regina’s timid, abused sister-in-law, Birdie). And sometimes — when there’s a matinee and an evening performance — they play both parts in one day.
This is not the first time Nixon has performed two roles simultaneously: When she was a college freshman in 1984, she managed to appear in two Broadway shows at the same time, The Real Thing and Hurlyburly, running from one theater to the other between performances. Nevertheless, The Little Foxes is a daunting test for both actors.
In a free-flowing conversation at BuzzFeed’s New York headquarters, the actors talked about taking on this unique challenge, as well as their thoughts on the theater at large, aging, and roles for women over 40.
Cynthia Nixon: You know, Laura was the person who was really cast in this play, and then she very amazingly invited me in. So I also—
Laura Linney: I just thought they made a mistake and they should have cast you in this play.
CN: But I also had to get over the idea, which I'm still getting over a tiny bit, but it's hard to get over the idea that this is not really Laura's production, you know what I mean? And nobody made me feel that way, but it was such an amazing thing to be invited, and such an unexpected thing and lovely thing, but intimidating.
LL: Oh, Cynthia.
CN: Well, little bit... READ MORE
Photograph by Kate Bubacz