Did they track you down for this role, or did you push for it?
I think it was probably both. Probably more so on my side. I just felt that it was a story I had been familiar with for so long that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to be a part of it.
You were very young during the ’80s, and you were a long ways away from the center of this story in New York. Were you aware of the story in the ’80s? Did you see it on TV? And now as you see it from your perspective, now when you play this character, what does it feel like?
This play was actually the first exposure I really had, a real understanding of the illness. I read it in the closet of my drama room when I was 14 years old, and the irony of that is not lost on me.
So, you know, I grew up in the Bible Belt, and there was no talk about [HIV]. I remember reading this play and seeing this neon blinking SOS and being terrified but also glad that I had some kind of understanding of what was going on, and I did lose friends. I started working at the theater in Art Town in the mid-’90s, which was in some ways an especially difficult time in the epidemic, and that was my first direct contact in losing friends and things like that. So I guess this story, for me, was always the genesis of my understanding of what the disease was.
How many conversations did you have with Larry about playing Felix?
First of all, I love Larry. We spent a good deal of time together talking about the world. He has done revivals of this play for so long, I didn’t want to keep rehashing tough territory for him. So much of this story really is in the text. The most important thing that he told me was it is more about who this individual was before he got sick and after. And the good and the bad with both of those sides of the coin.
You can read the entire interview here.