The Backstory with Zachary Quinto

The latest production of The Glass Menagerie has already been lauded as one of the most captivating interpretations of the Tennessee Williams classic, perhaps ever. Zachary Quinto, the actor best known as Spock and also the play’s Tony-worthy star, sat down with Vogue days before the Broadway premiere to discuss his days of struggling to get work, his performance in Angels in America, and growing a beard like Mandy Patinkin.

Released on 10/7/2013

Credits

Starring: Zachary Quinto

Transcript

00:02
That was defining moment for me,
00:03
when I saw Sweeney Todd, at the Civic Light Opera,
00:05
in Pittsburgh, I was probably 11 years old.
00:09
And I remember I was at a dress rehearsal,
00:11
and I was by myself on the front row of the mezzanine,
00:16
and the opening chords of that musical started,
00:19
and this was a very traditional production.
00:21
The opening chords, just the organ chords,
00:23
and then this whistle, this piercing whistle
00:30
comes out of those chords and into
00:32
the ballad of Sweeney Todd.
00:33
And I have never, I don't even think to this day,
00:36
been so scared by something, so startled,
00:39
and so shivered to the core by an experience.
00:43
It really shifted something in me.
00:45
Everybody told me to move to Los Angeles,
00:46
I didn't want to live there at all.
00:49
At all.
00:50
But, there were definitely mitigating factors.
00:55
Like I could look at the landscape of theatre,
00:57
in New York, and look at the landscape
00:59
of what was happening on Broadway
01:00
when I got out of college,
01:01
and so many theaters were populated with actors
01:03
that were on hiatus from the television shows,
01:05
or between films, coming back to New York to do plays.
01:07
There was just such an overwhelming tide
01:11
toward Los Angeles for me, personally,
01:13
that I thought, well, let me try it out,
01:15
let me go and try to build something there.
01:18
So cut from the coming out of school,
01:20
idealistic version of myself that was so
01:23
formed by this immersive and insular experience
01:26
of a conservatory acting program,
01:28
to, then, almost eight years later in L.A.,
01:32
kind of having been knocked about,
01:34
and made some progress, but not really having felt
01:37
like I was anywhere that I could build on,
01:41
in terms of my trajectory.
01:43
I was considering, really, seriously considering
01:46
packing it in, but I just didn't know what else I would do.
01:49
I think if I could have thought at that time, in 2006,
01:51
of another career path, I probably would have
01:53
diverted and taken it.
01:55
I was super depressed.
01:57
I had grown a beard.
01:59
I really looked like Mandy Patinkin.
02:01
And, I love Mandy Patinkin, by the way.
02:04
That wasn't a dig.
02:06
I went in for this audition,
02:07
and I think because I was in such a place,
02:11
that was dark, actually,
02:13
that there was some authenticity to my connection
02:16
to this very dark character.
02:18
And then everything changed, cause I got that job.
02:20
They made me shave, and then come for a call-back,
02:22
and then they gave it to me.
02:23
I was apart of something that had already formed,
02:25
I came into Heroes on the eighth episode,
02:27
and it was already a global phenomenon.
02:29
And the way that the season was structured,
02:32
it was so much anticipation about this particular
02:35
character that I played.
02:36
So I just stepped into something that took me,
02:38
and you know opened up whole new
02:41
levels of experience that I had only ever
02:43
dreamed of before that.
02:45
For me, in filming television,
02:47
I tend to rely much more on instinct.
02:50
Sometimes being overly prepared can be detrimental
02:54
to the impulsive nature of choices that you make
02:58
in front of a camera.
03:00
You're looking to capture something different.
03:03
Whereas on stage, it's about crafting something.
03:06
It's about shaping something.
03:07
And that takes time.
03:08
The first play I did in New York was Angels in America.
03:11
I had never done a play there before,
03:12
it was very important to me that it was
03:13
an ensemble piece off Broadway.
03:15
That it wasn't about me coming in from Hollywood,
03:18
and you know, throwing my name up above Marquis
03:20
to see if it sells tickets and it wasn't about that.
03:23
It's about cultivating an experience that's
03:27
worth seeing, that an audience wants
03:29
to see because there's some grain of integrity in it.
03:32
Not because it's trying to be something.
03:35
I mean, I can't play a character unless
03:36
I can love the character.
03:39
And I've played some pretty despicable characters.
03:41
So for me, characters that require me to explore
03:43
different psychological landscapes,
03:45
and understand them in a way that I wouldn't
03:47
if I was just living my regular life, appeal to me.
03:50
And I've had the good fortune of playing a number of those.
03:53
Irreprehensible people that you know,
03:56
do abominable things, but that I still have to love.
04:00
That's an interesting challenge.
04:02
(upbeat music)
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