Jonathan Hadary's most recent credits include Arthur Laurents' Jolson Sings Again at the George Street Playhouse and Tony Kushner's Hydriotaphia at the Alley Theatre and the Berkeley Rep. But call him "Mr. Versatility," because his career has also embraced major roles in Gemini, As Is, The Destiny of Me, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Assassins, Guys and Dolls (as Nathan Detroit, oppposite Faith Prince) and Gypsy (as Herbie, opposite both Tyne Daly and Linda Lavin). One of his proudest accomplishments is having played Roy Cohn in the national tour of Angels In America. I first became acquainted with Jonathan's talent when he inherited the role of Arnold Beckoff from Harvey Fierstein in the Broadway production of Torch Song Trilogy. Now he's playing Sidney Bruhl in a revival of Deathtrap at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, and I got a chance to chat with him a few days before opening night.
When you were a kid, is this where you thought you'd be in the year 2000?
More or less, yeah. I thought I'd be an actor. My mom says she never saw a kid who knew what he wanted to do as much.
If there were a movie based on your life, what would it be called?
The first word that comes to mind is one that I always thought I'd use for the title of my autobiography: "Unscathed." I don't know if I'd use that title anymore--but it's still a good word!
Who's your personal hero?
No one person comes to mind. There are many people I admire and have been inspired by.
Your personal villain?
I tend to have them one at a time. This business is such that, as a free-lancer, you're always dealing with a whole new set of people. Unfortunately there's often a personal villain in each situation: some jerk who's in your way, somewhere in the mix. Mind you, everyone is a jerk to someone else. I'm one myself. We should all remember that, but most of us don't--especially the jerks.
What role would you like to play that you will never get to play?
Probably Hamlet, or Richard II. I let a lot of Shakespeare go by.
What's your favorite four-letter word?
"Also." I have a little piece of a sign that I lifted from a theater that was being demolished, and that word is on it. I always liked having that hanging up in my house.
What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you on stage?
In Gemini, I had to eat a jelly donut in the opening scene, and my mother--played by the late, lamented Jessica James--would smack me with a fly-swatter and say, "Take human bites!" It was one of those moments that became slightly iconic. One night, only one of the donuts was practical or, should I say, fresh. The rest of them were these really old Entenmann's donuts. Of course, I picked up one of the old ones and tried to gnaw at it. It felt--and sounded--like Styrofoam.
What is your pet peeve?
If you could wake up in the morning with a skill that you don't already possess, what would it be?
Well, I have to take the leap into computerdom. I haven't done that yet. I do, however, have a touch-tone phone!
What's your choice for best picture of the year?
I haven't seen any, because I've been so busy. One year, I won an Oscar pool having only seen clips of the movies. I remember seeing a clip of Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful and I thought, "No one's going to beat that!"
What is your favorite sound?
Applause. Also, snow falling--or snow landing. It's almost inaudible, and I love it.
What gets you really choked up?
Reunions. Not the college and high-school type, but personal reunions. I remember, there was a TV show when I was a kid that reunited people who hadn't seen each other in a long time, and that was very moving to me.
Favorite kind of music?
Standards, and classical.
Morning or Night?
When I'm not working, and I'm left to my own devices, I'm a morning person. But I do thrive on work, so I'm a night person when I'm doing a show.
Intimate gatherings or wild parties?
What's your favorite line from Torch Song Trilogy?
At one point, Ed says to Arnold, "Are you with me?" And Arnold says, "I'm way ahead of you."