John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega in Jack Goes Boating
(© K.C. Bailey)
John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega in Jack Goes Boating
(© K.C. Bailey)
For almost two decades, savvy New York theater goers have watched the development of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, which has produced such memorable work as Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the A Train and The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, and Bob Glaudini's Jack Goes Boating. Now the rest of the world can see what all the fuss is about, thanks to the film version of Jack Goes Boating, which opens in selected cities on September 17 before a nationwide rollout on September 24.

The highly acclaimed Off-Broadway play makes the leap from stage to screen with three of its original four member ensemble intact: Oscar winner Philip Seymour, two-time Tony Award nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega, and John Ortiz, joined by former Tony and Oscar nominee Amy Ryan. The biggest change, however, is that Hoffman (one of LAB's former artistic directors along with Ortiz) is also making his big-screen directing debut.

The film tells the story of four unlikely friends: Married couple Clyde (Ortiz), a limousine driver, and Lucy (Rubin-Vega), office manager of a mortuary, take on the project of finding a girl for Jack (Hoffman), and eventually, the couple introduces him to Lucy's co-worker Connie (Ryan). What happens to both couples during the next six months is richly detailed in this comic, yet heartbreakingly honest film.

The actors credit both Glaudini, who wrote the adaptation, and Hoffman for the film's success. "Bob wrote those roles with Phil, Daphne and me in mind and from the first reading we knew this was special," says Ortiz, who will star opposite Dustin Hoffman in the upcoming HBO series Luck. "I mean, I wasn't the Puerto Rican sidekick and Daphne and I weren't the spicy Latino couple. Plus, Jack, Clyde, and Lucy are the kind of characters usually kept in the background as supporting players, not the leads."

Ortiz also says the film rings true for him in other ways: "Bob's writing can be deceptive -- and things aren't always what they appear to be -- but he never fell into the traps of portraying working class people in the same way that Phil didn't fall into the clichés of shooting New York. I mean I'm born and raised in Brooklyn and there are stories like these on every street corner."

Rubin-Vega relished the chance to revisit her character and reconnect with Ortiz, her longtime friend and costar. "John and I played a very different married couple in Anna in the Tropics, on Broadway. But it was wonderful to have the luxury of playing Clyde and Lucy again on screen. The movie is such a gift, and working with Phil is such a gift," says the actress, who will return to the Off-Broadway stage later this year in the New Group's Blood from a Stone.

The actress also notes that even people who saw the play during its run at the Public Theatre should give the movie a second look. "The ending of the movie is so much more decisive than the play was, and that's because Phil, John, Bob, and I have lived with these characters for so long now that we know what has to happen," she notes. "That's the joy of working with LAByrinth; it brings out the best in each of us and makes us step outside our own comfort zones."