STAGE TO SCREENS: Good Grief! Tony Award Winner Laura Benanti Finds a Hit in NBC's "Go On"

By Christopher Wallenberg
22 Nov 2012

Benanti on "Go On."
Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC
You told the New York Times a few years ago that you were a bit of an ugly duckling growing up. That's hard to believe!
LB: Yeah, I was. Oh my god, I should send you a picture! No one believes me! And that's why at the cabaret show that I do, I show a poster of myself [when I was young]...I just grew really quickly. I had boobs really quickly. I had really bad skin. I have really curly hair, and I decided to cut it short and then brush it out and give myself bangs. And I always seemed older. I just always seemed more mature than I was. I'm an old soul. So I didn't fit in. Everybody else was listening to Madonna, and I was listening to, like, Rosemary Clooney. I never really felt like I belonged. So that was easy for me to tap into that in playing Louise [in Gypsy]. But when I was like a freshman in high school, I started to pull it all together, and then I started to get attention from boys. But I think I still suffer from that a little bit, where I see something myself very differently from maybe what the world sees. But my husband is like, "I'm glad that you have that complex, because otherwise you'd probably be a jerk." [Laughs.]

Did acting in plays in high school help to boost your confidence and break you out of your shell?
LB: Well, I don't think "a lot of confidence" is a phrase that could ever be used for me. But it gave me courage. I act despite my fear.

Do you think that's true for a lot of actors?
LB: Yeah, I think so. I think the most sensitive, empathetic people make the best actors.

Do you have a dream stage role? One that you haven't played yet?
LB: I've always wanted to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. But I better get going because I'm not getting any younger.

Will you do a play or musical during your hiatus this summer, assuming that "Go On" gets picked up for another season?
LB: I'm trying to find something and keeping my options open. I don't know what it would be. But I'd like it to be something. Because I sure do miss the stage.