Jeff Daniels to return to a familiar part on Broadway

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff Daniels is going to get another bite of "Blackbird" — this time on Broadway.

Nine years after he starred in the play off-Broadway, the "Dumb & Dumber" and "Newsroom" star will get another crack early next year opposite Michelle Williams. Joe Mantello, who directed Daniels in it in 2007, is also returning.

"I've wanted to come back to Broadway and there's been some interest and some offers. But this felt like something that would shake everybody up," said Daniels. "I didn't want to come back safe. And this isn't safe. It's what Broadway should be about."

David Harrower's creepy play centers on an older man, a much younger woman and what happens when they meet 15 years after their brief relationship has ended. It's a 90-minute, cat-and-mouse tale of guilt, revenge and sexual intrigue.

Daniels calls the play "two people playing U.S. Open tennis across a stage. I really look forward to that." And like an athlete, he plans to give it his all: "There is only one way to do it. It's got to cost you. You've got to leave it on the stage every night."

Previews begin Feb. 5 at the Belasco Theatre.

Daniels was last on Broadway in "God of Carnage" and his other plays there include "Redwood Curtain," ''The Golden Age" and "Fifth of July." Williams, a three-time Oscar-nominee, was last on Broadway in last season in "Cabaret."

Daniels said "God of Carnage" and "The Newsroom" have made him a better actor. "I'm anxious to come back to it as that actor and see what he does to it," he said. "You get better. You get better until the day you die. But I can certainly tell a difference with the things I've done since then. "

The play will have costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by Brian MacDevitt. Scott Pask, who did the scenery the last time, also returns. It is produced by Scott Rudin.

Daniels and Williams have worked together before on the 2004 film "Imaginary Heroes" with Sigourney Weaver. "She's a phenomenal actress and perfect for the role," Daniels said. (Williams' part was previously filled by Allison Pill, who worked with Daniels on "The Newsroom.")

He said he told Pill about the revival and asked her to come see it. "I said, 'Please come and see it and, please, when you come backstage, come back laughing at me. Just walk in the room, point at me and laugh.'"