Final Bow

Final Bow: Misery's Leon Addison Brown Rides "Shotgun" to the End of His Broadway Run

Broadway’s sheriff on the art of onstage death and his ongoing struggle to pin Laurie Metcalf in a corner.

While Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis engage in their nightly battle of wills at the Broadhurst Theatre, Leon Addison Brown lurks just offstage, waiting to nail the deranged Annie Wilkes for her crimes of literary passion against the captive (and crippled) Paul Sheldon. Until February 14, Brown will continue to pop on- and offstage as Buster, Misery's suspicious sheriff who smells something fishy beyond Wilkes' front door. Things may not go so great for his character, but as an actor, he's enjoyed practicing his death drops, working alongside Korben Dallas, and facing Metcalf in a theatrical game of cat and mouse.

Leon Addision Brown taking his opening-night bow as Buster in Misery at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Leon Addision Brown taking his opening-night bow as Buster in Misery at the Broadhurst Theatre.
(© David Gordon)

1. What is your favorite line that you get to say?
That would probably be "I'm hoping you can explain that to me." It comes in the third scene that I do with Laurie where I say she's become the biggest customer for typing paper.

2. Everyone loves inside jokes. What is the best one from your show?
In rehearsal, we'd refer to Laurie's character as a "tiger in the room." So every once in a while the director Will Frears would just shout out "tiger!" when we were sort of losing track of that. You don't want to tread too roughly because you might get eaten.

3. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
I don't think it would have been a physical present. Just folks who knew people that I knew. They're standing in line waiting for autographs and then you have a conversation with them and they're from somewhere else in the world like Britain or Germany or Norway and all of a sudden they're telling you, "Hey, I know someone from your past!" That's always quite nice.

4. Who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family!)
I would say Rita Moreno. She was just so elegant. And very, very cool if you ask me. My definition of cool.

5. Every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
The shotgun not going off. I didn't know it at the time but we back it up with a recorded version of the shot if it doesn’t happen. It was nice to hear the backup.

6. How do you rehearse being shot in the head?
We had a great fight choreographer and we just worked on doing it everyday once we got into the theater. Luckily I've not been hurt doing it. Little scrapes and bruises every now and then but not anything major. It's just repetitive rehearsal. And then going to the gym in the meantime to rebuild old muscles.

7. How do you spend your time offstage?
I tend to watch the show on the monitor and listen to it every night. I listen and I watch and that way I feel like I haven't gone away (although the character has). It keeps me sort of in touch.

8. If you were to go "Misery" on any artist, who would it be?
Actor-wise, I would say probably Geoffrey Rush or Annette Bening. I think they're amazing actors. I won't refer to anyone in the play because I have to go to work. [laughs]

9. If you could be in any Bruce Willis movie, what would it be?
Definitely The Fifth Element. I love that movie.

10. What do you find most terrifying about Laurie Metcalf's performance?
There's an element of unpredictability about Laurie every night…That to me is terrifying. There are times when I'm sitting there watching her and Bruce in certain scenes, and I'm going, "What is she gonna do?" He's in bed, he can't do much. He's totally at her mercy. But it's the unpredictability [that] keeps you alive. That's a great gift to have onstage and to be onstage with. It's fun out there to try to pin her in a corner and see if I can get her to admit something.

Brown with his Misery costars Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf.
Brown with his Misery costars Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf.
(© David Gordon)

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