Alan Cumming

Interview

Friday, May 24, 2013

Alan Cumming likes doing accents. He’s played a German mutant in the X-Men franchise, a Russian Bond villain, and the venomous Washington operative Eli Gold on The Good Wife. He recalls that when he showed up on the set of Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick chewed him out. “You’re not American,” the director yelled. “You were American on the tape!” “That’s because I’m an actor, Stanley,” Cumming replied.

Cumming is actually Scottish — a vocal supporter of the Scottish home rule movement — and he is playing a famous Scot on Broadway right now in Macbeth. In fact, he plays many Scots: the harrowing production is set in an insane asylum, with Cumming as a patient acting out the entire play by himself. “There was a moment where I thought I can’t do this,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “It’s too much. I can’t learn a whole play. I just felt as though I’d taken on too much. But I did it.”

Yet his quick shifts from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth, and other moments of the play, bring some levity to the tragedy. “You have to let the audience know they can laugh,” he says. “You have to let them know that’s allowed because later on when really horrible things happen both in the play and to me, as a performer, I think people need to know that if I do something funny, there’s a release for them.”

Cumming will soon return to Broadway as the Master of Ceremonies in the much-anticipated revival of the 1998 hit production of Cabaret, which made him a star in America. He tells Kurt he’s looking forward to spending his 50th birthday in that slinky role. “The whole experience of what happened to me because of the show, whilst I was doing the show, was so overwhelming. I was so green. And, this time, I won’t be as scared.”

 

Bonus Track: More Alan Cumming

Listen to an extended cut of the conversation. (Heads up: contains some off-color language)


Bonus Track: 3 for 360

 Alan Cumming's 3 for 360

    Music Playlist
  1. It Couldn’t Please Me More
    Artist: Mary Louise Wilson
    Album: Cabaret: The New Broadway Cast Recording (1998 Broadway Revival)
    Label: RCA Victor
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Money (from "Cabaret")
    Artist: Alan Cumming
    Album: Cabaret: The New Broadway Cast Recording (1998 Broadway Revival)
    Label: RCA Victor
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Macbeth
    Artist: John Cale
    Album: Paris 1990
    Label: Rhino/Warner Bros.
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Wilkommen (from "Cabaret")
    Artist: Alan Cumming
    Album: Cabaret: The New Broadway Cast Recording (1998 Broadway Revival)
    Label: RCA Victor
    Purchase: Amazon
  5. Are You Coming
    Artist: Winston Reedy
    Album: Dim The Light Volume 2
    Label: Cherry & Ree
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Alan Cumming

Produced by:

Chloe Plaunt

Comments [2]

Yonni from Tel Aviv

Anyone know where we can get the song lists of interstitials used in the shows? I can't seem to find them here on the site. I'm specifically looking for the jazz (French maybe, or gypsy) used on these shows...

Jun. 03 2013 12:19 PM
Leslie from Nevada

Fantastic interview. Love you, Alan! You were one of the main influences for me to get back into acting later on in life. You are tremendous. Cheers, Leslie who now lives in Nevada, USA

May. 24 2013 12:42 AM

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