June 16, 1955– Laurie Metcalf
It must be an exciting time to be Laurie Metcalf. In 2012, she starred as Mary Tyrone in a London production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Award. In spring 2013, she starred in the Broadway premiere of The Other Place, a Manhattan Theatre Club production directed by talented two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello and starring Daniel Stern, bringing her a second Tony Award nomination (the first was for November in 2008, opposite her friend Nathan Lane), after winning the Obie Award for the Off-Broadway version. In fall 2013, Metcalf performed Off-Broadway with Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated by Bruce Norris, bringing her the Lucille Lortel Award, Drama League Award, and the 2014 Drama Desk Award. She then played Annie Wilkes in the Broadway production of Stephen King’s Misery, opposite Bruce Willis. The play opened in November 2015 to mixed reviews, but Metcalf’s performance was widely praised She was nominated for another Tony Award, her third Tony nomination.
All that world-class stage work and she still had time for television projects: a recurring role on the number one series The Big Bang Theory (2007-Current), as Sheldon Cooper’s pragmatic, Texan mother; as a high-strung, demented doctor on the truly great HBO show Getting On (2013-15), at the same time that she was doing The McCarthys (2014-15).
Then, the icing on the awards cake, last Sunday, after four Tony Award nominations, Metcalf won for her role as Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath. Quite something, the other nominees in the category were Cate Blanchett in The Present, Jennifer Ehle in Oslo, Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie and Laura Linney in The Little Foxes. In the play, Metcalf’s Nora storms back through the door she famously shut behind her in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House 15 years earlier, by the play’s chronology, selfishly demanding that the people she abandoned do exactly what she requests.
Think she enjoys working? Last month it was announced that she was joining the reboot of ABC’s Roseanne along with the original cast Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Michael Fishman, Sara Gilbert, Sarah Chalke and Johnny Galecki. She has been nominated for an astounding 14 Emmy Awards for her television work, winning three for Roseanne as Jackie, Roseanne’s caustic sister. She appeared in all 230 episodes of the original, I counted them. Metcalf:
“That’s going to be a rush, to jump back into that world. Back on the same lot, I think maybe in the same studio that we were in more than 20 years ago. I guess it was just meant to be. Maybe the timing of it is really good. I’d like to see this blue-collar family today, in 2017.”
Later this year, she stars in the film Lady Bird opposite her friend Tracy Letts, written and directed by indie darling Greta Gerwig. It is not, as I had hoped, about LBJ’s First Lady. It is a comedy though.
Metcalf grew-up in the small Illinois town of Edwardsville where she took ballet class, played baseball, and was an honor student. Metcalf attended Illinois State University where she received a B.A, in Theatre in 1976. Her fellow students in the Theatre department included John Malkovich, the late Glenne Headly, Joan Allen, Terry Kinney, Gary Sinese and Scandal’s Jeff Perry. They all went on to form Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Metcalf went with the company to appear in an Off-Broadway production of gay playwright Lanford Wilson’s Balm In Gilead at Circle Repertory in 1984, for which she received the 1984 Obie Award and Theatre World Award. People still talk about Metcalf’s tour de force 20-minute Act Two monologue. I guess that long speeches are a thing for Metcalf; in last season’s Horace And Pete, with Louis C.K. as her ex-husband, she had an almost non-stop 40 minute monolog where neither the camera nor the viewer can turn away. Another Emmy nomination!
She had been cast on Saturday Night Live in 1981, but appeared in only one episode before the season was abruptly ended by the writer’s strike. She never returned.
She was married to her classmate ,Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder, Jeff Perry. Their daughter Zoe Perry is an actor who worked with her mother on Broadway in The Other Place. In a queer twist of fate, Zoe Perry plays Sheldon Cooper’s mother in CBS’s Big Bang Theory prequel, Young Sheldon this fall.
Metcalf married Matt Roth, the Roseanne co-star who played her abusive boyfriend, Fisher. They also appeared together on the 2006 season of Desperate Housewives. They have three children together, but divorced in 2014.
Her friend, gay producer Scott Rudin, who brought Metcalf to Broadway in Misery and A Doll’s House: Part 2, has announced that two-time Academy Award winner Glenda Jackson and Metcalf will star in the first Broadway production of the late, great, gay Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Three Tall Women in spring 2018, in a production directed by Joe Mantello. This will mark Jackson’s long-awaited return to Broadway after a 30-year absence, coming out of her historic, sold-out run in King Lear this year in London, after serving as a Member of Parliament from 1992 to 2015.
Metcalf admits she loves to work, but she mostly… she loves to work on stage.