Logan Marshall-Green, who co-stars in the new ABC-TV series Traveler, talks about his role in Geometry of Fire at New York Stage & Film's Powerhouse Theater.
Over the past few seasons, Logan has been praised for his work Off-Broadway in The Distance From Here, Pig Farm, and The Public Theater's King Lear, in which he played the villainous Edmond. An alum of the actors training program at the Williamstown Theater Festival, he returned to Williamstown in 2005 and gave an unforgettable performance as cowboy Bo Decker in Bus Stop. Now he's set to spend some time up at Vassar College, where he'll appear in the New York Stage & Film production of Geometry of Fire, Stephen Belber's play about a marine reservist sniper just back from Iraq and a Saudi American who's looking for the cause of his father's death. I spoke with this consummate actor and rabid baseball fan on the eve of the first of two recent Subway Series.
THEATERMANIA: It's great that you keep doing live theater.
LOGAN MARSHALL-GREEN: It's great that they keep letting me!
TM: Geometry of Fire sounds very intriguing. I'm guessing that you play the marine reservist and not the Saudi?
LOGAN: [laughs] Yes. Piter Marek, who was fantastic in King Lear, plays the Saudi. The play is a four-hander; it follows the American and the Saudi, but Stephen has also written some great opportunities for another male and a female actor [Reed Birney and Mia Barron] who come in and out of their lives in numerous different roles.
TM: Does the play deal with terrorism at all?
LOGAN: [pauses] How do I put this? I don't want to say anything that would go against what Stephen feels. I wouldn't say it's about terrorism; it's about relationships, on a micro- and macro-cosmic level. The characters are definitely representative of certain issues or sides in the Iraq war, but one thing that's great about the play is that Stephen doesn't hammer home any political partisanship.
TM: The first episode of Traveler began with what seemed to be a terrorist act. Can you talk about the show a little, for the benefit of those who haven't caught it yet?
LOGAN: It's about three guys who've just graduated from Yale and decide to take a summer trip across the country. Right at the beginning of the trip, in New York, two of them are framed by the third one for bombing a museum -- or so they think. The story is very enigmatic at the start, but things become more clear as it unfolds. It's a high-octane show about terrorism and our attitude towards it, but it's also about friendship.
TM: The last time we had an interview, you said, "I enjoy TV and film, but I'm trained in theater and I just love live performance. I'd rather be poor and doing theater than rich and not doing it. I need to be on stage."
LOGAN: It makes me smile that I said that, because I meant it then and I feel the same way now. There's just something about live performance. Once you've done it and you've felt that responsibility of playing a character every night, it becomes highly intoxicating and very additive -- to me, anyway. I'm definitely a creature of habit, so I have to keep coming back to it. There's so much great theater out there right now. I'm psyched about it, and I've been very fortunate to be part of certain productions. I like the idea of "punching in" to do theater.
TM: King Lear at the Public was an amazing experience.
LOGAN: Thanks. In more ways than one, Edmond was probably the most difficult role I've ever played. That guy is a hell of a lot smarter than me, so I really had to kick in the neurons every night just to keep up with his brain activity.
TM: Was the character a challenge to play because he's so evil?
LOGAN: To tell you the truth, that wasn't hard, because I really didn't see him as evil. I think he's taking a ride with fate. He's so with nature and so against the gods, yet everything that happens to him seems to come from the gods or from fate. He can't escape it.
TM: Was Edmond your first major Shakespearean role?
LOGAN: Well, it was the first time I got paid to do Shakespeare -- let's put it that way! I played Mamillius in my mom's production of The Winter's Tale. I also did some Shakespeare when I was coming up through theater school and conservatory. In King Lear, I don't know if I even earned my Off-Broadway check, but I was there to learn. I got paid to go to class.
TM: You were amazing as Bo Decker in Bus Stop at Williamstown.
LOGAN: I love that kid. If there's one role I could play for the rest of my life, it would probably be Bo Decker, although having to drink a quart of milk without stopping every night was the toughest thing I've ever done on stage.
TM: Was the milk watered down?
LOGAN: No! We tried to water it down but, for some reason, that just made it worse.
TM: Well -- was it skim milk, at least?
LOGAN: [laughing] Yeah, I think it was skim. But, you know, that wasn't the end of it. When you're playing Bo, you drink the milk and then you have to eat, like, three hamburgers and eggs. As an actor, you think, "Thank God I got the quart down" -- but then you have to eat the equivalent of a four-course meal in the space of two pages, just because the guy needs to show off even more. What a bastard!
TM: In a recent interview that you did for Time Out New York, the writer noted that you were reluctant to pose for photos. Do you generally feel uncomfortable with having your picture taken?
LOGAN: Yeah. It's something I need to work on. I'm uncomfortable when I'm in front of a camera as myself. I'm always a bit hesitant to reveal myself for people to observe because, the more I do that, the less I feel I can observe people. The more I put "me" out there, I think, the less the characters can be seen clearly. I try to live in the characters I play. For me, it's really about the work.
TM: Every actor says that, but you seem 100 percent sincere about it.
LOGAN: The business is changing very rapidly. Even since I graduated from NYU with an M.F.A. five years ago, it has changed in many ways. But I still believe that if you really concentrate on the work, it will do more for your career than anything you could ever say.
TM: Having said that: Anything else you'd like to say before we leave off?