In two weeks, Broadway’s Orphans will officially open — giving the theater community something to talk about besides the production’s tumultuous development. In the meantime, though, cast members Alec Baldwin, Tom Sturridge, and Ben Foster will just have to keep fielding questions about Shia LaBeouf, who was fired from the production after reportedly clashing with Baldwin in rehearsals.
Those questions form the core of an interview with the cast in the New York Times. And while the answers aren’t particularly juicy — there’s nothing as damning as Baldwin saying that theater’s just not Shia’s thing — they do provide a little more context about what, exactly, went wrong before LaBeouf got axed. Baldwin told writer Patrick Healy that he “didn’t look at it as my job” to make things work with LaBeouf, adding obliquely that he “didn’t really care about” his castmates’ “personal issues” at the beginning of rehearsals.
But when Healy brought up the way LaBeouf apparently criticized Baldwin for not memorizing his lines quickly enough, Sturridge interjected, saying that it isn’t fair “to make public or investigate what happened in the rehearsal room,” which he respects as a “safe place for an actor.” Even though Baldwin noted that LaBeouf had already made that information public by tweeting emails about it, Sturridge held his ground: “The email shouldn’t have been read,” he told his interviewer. “It’s not your job to read them. I think that’s extraordinarily ethically questionable. It was a private e-mail, and you read it.”
(For clarity’s sake, Sturridge is questioning the reporter’s professional ethics for reading LaBeouf’s tweets.)
Those tense moments aside, the cast seems happy with the ultimate direction that Orphans is going — though audiences are laughing a little too much during scenes that are supposed to be serious. And with time, maybe even Sturridge will be able to laugh about the whole LaBeouf brouhaha. Baldwin — a veteran of troubled stage productions who has a history of very public verbal altercations — seems like he’s already there. Here’s his joking account of how Foster was hired to replace LaBeouf: “They went to Ben, and Ben sent me an e-mail and said: ‘[expletive deleted] you. I’d rather drop dead than work with you.’ And I said, “I’m going to tweet this e-mail if you don’t get your ass over here to do this play.”
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