Douglas Hodge Talks About Playing Cyrano, a Romantic Who Thumbs His Nose to the World

By Ruth Leon
04 Oct 2012

Hodge in La Cage aux Folles.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Lloyd and Hodge have worked together before, very successfully and most recently in the sold-out London run of John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence, in which Hodge gave an exhaustive and exhausting portrait of a man in the throes of a full-scale breakdown. Actor and director understand one another perfectly. "Jamie just finds the right words," says Hodge. "We have a swift vocabulary — each of us just knows what the other means and we trust one another to know what works."

Lloyd is equally admiring of his star, whose last Broadway outing was his Tony-winning performance in the hit revival of La Cage aux Folles. "He is a master of language," says Lloyd of Hodge. "Cyrano is a play about words, about how you can use words to express something as intangible as love, with a capital L. Have you ever seen one of Doug's working scripts? No? They are full of postcards, images, sketches, drawings, anything that can help him bring it alive. How he juggles everything he does — actor, writer, director, father — I don't know, but he's great at all of it."

Lloyd's cast is from around the globe with the French actress and model Clémence Poésy playing the fair Roxane. Is he scared by the prospect of Broadway? "I'm more excited than scared. I got really excited as soon as I saw the cast when I came over to audition. They brought such dynamism, such enthusiasm, such preparation and effort.... Who could be scared after that?"

Hodge has no fear of the Broadway audience, having been totally embraced by New Yorkers during La Cage. "I loved it. It's very exciting. I'm at home here and particularly at the Roundabout [the producing company for Cyrano]. But of course there's a huge difference playing for the Broadway audience. The English are much more guarded and likely to reserve judgment. Americans are much more vocal, more immediate. I can't imagine bringing Inadmissible Evidence here, for example."

But Cyrano is a very different character from the man Hodge played in Inadmissible Evidence: he is a man without belief in a future. "Rejected by his mother, he [Cyrano] believes that he cannot be loved by anyone, and there has never been a trace of feminine softness in his life," says Hodge. "Nobody knows much about him, and he has always been alone, which has given him a layer of couldn't-care-lessness where he writes what he feels and says what he thinks. And yet this man who never hides finds that he can fall so tenderly in love with Roxane. His love for her inspires him to reach a higher plane, to become a better, tenderer man. This is the part of Cyrano that speaks to me. It's about living in that moment."

(This feature appears in the October 2012 issue of Playbill magazine. Ruth Leon pens the monthly column A Letter From London.)