Brian d'Arcy James in Shrek the Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
Brian d'Arcy James in Shrek the Musical
(© Joan Marcus)
Brian d'Arcy James says he's savoring every moment of his 2009 Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as the title character in Shrek the Musical. "It's a little different than my first time (when he was nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Sweet Smell of Success), because once you've had the experience of being nominated, you realize there's just a sliver between having and not having this opportunity," he says. "So I think I appreciate it more this time around. I just wish everyone in our company could get a nomination, because we all worked so hard."

While the handsome and not-so-large actor bears no resemblance to the giant green ogre once he's out of makeup, he says there are similarities between him and his alter-ego. "I understand the feeling of being the underdog, of kind of wanting to be chosen for the team," he says. "When I was growing up I was always really active in sports, but I was always really small, so I was always in the back jumping up behind the big guys saying 'pick me pick me.' On the other hand, I don't have a problem with hygiene the way Shrek does."

While Shrek is definitely shy around women, d'Arcy James -- who is happily married to actress and interior designer Jennifer Prescott -- says that aspect of his character has never been a problem. "When I was growing up, I would hang out with my sister and all of her friends -- I was part of her social circle -- so I've never been one to shy away from hanging out with the ladies," he laughs.

Now, the female he most hangs out with -- other than Jennifer and co-star Sutton Foster -- is his daughter Grace. "At the outset, she was very nervous about me doing the show and she didn't want me to be Shrek; she wanted me to be Pinocchio," he says. "But now, she loves it. And it's interesting for her to watch all this nomination stuff and figure out what this contest means. It's hard enough for me to understand it, so I'm trying to parse it down for her, and it's an interesting challenge. Still, she's very excited by it and I'm really tickled by that!"