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INTERVIEW: Tate Donovan Makes a Medieval Play Date

The popular actor discusses his work in Kenneth Lonergan's new play, his new NBC series, and working on Glee. logo
Tate Donovan
(© David Gordon)
Actor Tate Donovan made his Broadway debut as Alan Seymour in Picnic in 1994, returned to Broadway in 1999 to star alongside Judi Dench in Amy's View, and most recently co-starred in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People opposite Frances McDormand in 2011. He is also well known for his work in film and television, including George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck and a critically acclaimed stint on Damages.

In a change of pace, Donovan is currently starring in the world premiere of Kenneth Lonergan's comedy Medieval Play at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre. TheaterMania recently chatted with Donovan about his latest role, his new NBC show, Infamous with Victor Garber, and what it's like to work behind the scenes on Glee.

THEATERMANIA: What drew you to Medieval Play?
TATE DONOVAN: Kenny Lonergan, who wrote and directed this production! I adore his writing. I've worked with him before in Lobby Hero . He's so funny. I also have friends in the play - I know Josh Hamilton, and Heather Burns did Lobby Hero with me.

TM: How would you describe this show?
TD: It is this hysterical view of the split the Catholic Church went through in the 1300s. Josh plays a knight who wants more out of life. He is questioning why we are slaughtering. My character is like, come on, it's fun! All of the characters lived through this. Everything is factual. I know it's hard to believe this really happened.

TM: I read that you wanted to be an actor since the age of 4, when you watched a film about medieval knights. Has your dream now come true?
TD: Yes, I'm never going to act again. My dream has come true. This isn't anything quite like I had envisioned!

TM: What do you enjoy about being a knight?
TD: Well, I'm enjoying the armor less and less each night. But we also have swords, shields, weapons. It's a very unusual play. In fact, working with fake pieces of food can be a bit strange.

TM: You are working on a new television show called Infamous, playing Victor Garber's oldest child. What can you tell us about your character?
TD. He has raped and murdered someone, but got away with it because he's wealthy. He is an awful human being -- but a good character to play.

TM: You have directed two episodes of Glee. What was it like on the set?
TD: The pace is fast and furious. It's a lot of fun. Those kids are fantastic. It's like theater camp on television. Ryan Murphy is very supportive. We did a bunch of great songs, like Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T.," and Katy Perry's "Firework."

TM: How did you begin directing?
TD: I was on The O.C. and had a small part, which wasn't very challenging. I was a bit bored, so I started shadowing directors and they finally gave me a shot. From there, it led to directing other television shows. I am trying to direct a feature film, so we'll see what happens.

TM: Where does your biggest passion lie?
TD: I want to keep doing it all. I have a movie coming out in the fall, Argo, which Ben Affleck directed. Victor Garber was actually also in this one, and I had the chance to visit Turkey for three weeks. I have been able to do a lot of great things during my career!


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