After starring roles in high-profile movies like Glory Road and Sweet Home Alabama, Josh Lucas certainly doesn’t have to lend his name to a low-budget, low-profile off-Broadway play like Fault Lines. But Lucas loves the stage: Before he was a film heartthrob, he took on the role of Judas in Terrence McNally’s controversial Corpus Christi at the Manhattan Theatre Club. While building his screen career, Lucas continued to make time for theater, notably as the Gentleman Caller in the 2005 Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie.
Now off-Broadway theatergoers can see him giving a sly and subtle performance in Naked Angels’ production of Fault Lines, Stephen Belber’s clever drama about a reunion of two old friends that goes seriously awry when a stranger enters the bar. The 37-year-old actor—who was born in Arkansas and raised all over the place—has several films awaiting release and has signed on to star in Possible Side Effects, a new Showtime series being developed by Tim Robbins about a family-owned pharmaceutical company. Just before a recent performance, the charming actor chatted with Broadway.com about his career and why Fault Lines’ macho dialogue (including an extended disquisition on the prostate) rings true.
What drew you to Fault Lines?
I thought it was very clever; the twists were interesting and theatrical. But what really got me was the way it talks about questions and issues in my life that all my friends seem to be battling with. A friend of mine who is about to turn 40 has completely lost his mind. He’s decided that he needs to change his life entirely and has become bizarrely judgmental. I have a group of male friends who get together and basically bash each other and then proceed to get into deep conversations that almost end up in fistfights [laughs].
Do guys your age really talk about their prostates [as the characters played by Lucas and Dominic Fumusa do for the first 15 minutes of Fault Lines]?
You have no idea! Really, genuinely, that’s been an issue recently to the point that it’s like, what is going on? [Laughs.] I thought I was the only one concerned about it and then I read the play. And then I started having conversations with people and everyone was like, “Yeah, man!”
Your character, Bill, who’s married, is in conflict over becoming a father. His single friend, Jim, claims he’s looking for a mate. Do you identify with their angst?
I see both sides of both characters. I relate a little more to my character, but I’m a guy who is not married and who’s out sleeping with young girls, so I see that side of it too [laughs]. I have a lot of the same desires and the same yearning for family and for settling down, so I really see those issues the play brings up and the questions that I think it honestly and intelligently and humorously asks.
Why didn’t you play Jim, the ladies’ man?
I thought about it, but I just felt more in tune with this character; I felt more compassion for Bill than I did for Jim. Also, I liked the theatrical arc Bill goes through. He walks into the play oblivious, in a good space in his life, and rug is pulled out from underneath him pretty harshly. From playing pool at the beginning of the play to vibrating with pain and rage at the end—that’s a wonderful trip. The play is 80 minutes long and yet you go through this huge journey.
Fault Lines seems to be attracting a young, enthusiastic audience.
I think the staging [by director David Schwimmer] is really accessible, and the writing is about young people turning a bit older. The audiences who respond most are the ones who aren’t “normal” theatergoers. I’d love for a whole group of Wall Street guys who never go to the theater to come and watch this play. It’s so much fun to have a drink with people after the play and hear stories of the betrayals their friendships are going through—everything from the darker questions of miscarriages, which a number of my friends have dealt with…just those heavy young middle-life issues. We've had audiences who were roaring to the point of standup comedy and others that were dead silent, but both audiences walked out and said, "We thought it was amazing."
Should anyone be surprised that a movie star like you is starring in an under-the-radar off-Broadway show?
I don’t really follow any prescription in terms of the smart or “right” thing to do [in my career]. What happened was, we did a workshop at Vassar over the summer, and we all fell in love with this piece of material and with each other. We felt this very playful, symbiotic working style, and there was a sense of wanting to keep it going. We found a theater [the Cherry Lane] and managed to go immediately into rehearsal, and here we are. We’ve done this whole thing in five weeks; it’s been a remarkable journey. And a lot of it comes down to the fact that we are having such a good time together. Often, that’s what comes off the stage—the experience the actors are having together. If people aren’t having a good time onstage, it’s probably not a great play to be in the audience watching.
What do you enjoy about stage acting?
I think it’s Matthew Broderick who said, “The difference between film and theater is like the difference between soccer and hockey. One of them takes a ball and the other takes a Zamboni and massive amounts of equipment on an ice rink.” There’s an incredible sort of soulful isolation onstage—it’s you, the words and the people you’re playing with. I find that tremendously rewarding, and also the fact that you’re feeding off an audience every night. It’s an experience you never, ever have doing a film. Film is basically taken from you quite quickly and put in the hands of a huge number of people. I started doing [stage acting] semi-professionally when I was 15 and I’ve come back to the theater at least every 18 months or so. I really feed on it. I really love it.
To read the rest, go here for page 2 and here for page 3
A look at the off-Broadway dark comedy Fault Lines, now playing at Naked Angels. Click to go watch the video at Broadway.com!
x-posted to bwaydaily
He's a cutie. I'm pretty sure my mom wants to bang him. She made my dad go see Glory Road for him lol