Long Day’s Journey into Night
I got an opportunity to work with my idol and mentor, Jack Lemmon, in a 1986 production of Eugene O'Neill's “Long Day's Journey into Night” as Jamie, the eldest Tyrone son.
I had for many months unsuccessfully tried to get an audition for “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” When I saw that the play’s director, Sir Jonathan Miller, was going to be giving a series of lectures on the afterlife of plays at the Alice Tully Hall in New York, I immediately got tickets to a lecture. I went without a plan, but intent on introducing myself to this great director.
I ended up sitting next to an elderly lady who was resting her eyes through most of the lecture when I noticed an invitation to a cocktail reception to be held that evening in honor of Miller sticking out of the lady’s purse. I thought to myself that she was probably too tired to go, so discreetly took the ticket and very quickly changed seats!
At the cocktail party I saw that Miller was sitting with Kurt Vonnegut on one side and Norman Mailer on the other. When Vonnegut went to the bathroom, I seized the opportunity and slipped into his seat. I started talking to Miller when he asked me: “What brought you to my lecture?” I replied: “Oddly enough, Eugene O’Neill brought me,” to which Miller replied: “Oh really, is he here? I’ve always wanted to meet him!” So I told Miller my story of how I had tried to get an audition with him for eight months without success.
Miller wrote down the hotel he was staying at, gave me his card, and two days later I had my first audition for the play with Miller himself! Five months later I auditioned again, but this time opposite Jack Lemmon, who had approval rights over the cast who were to play his sons. I gave the audition my all and at the end Jack Lemmon came up to me and said: “You know what? I never thought I’d find the rotten kid, but you’re it. Jesus Christ!”
Working with Jack Lemmon on "Long Day's Journey into Night" changed my life! While I was playing his son, he became a father figure to me. He was very hard-working, and so kind. Even if he was in a bad mood, he was still generous and kind-hearted. He didn't give two hoots about all the attention he got for being a major film star, he just always wanted to do good work. He taught me that being a good person and a good actor were not mutually exclusive, and I still consider Jack to be my role model.