15 Hollywood Stars Who Lit Up Broadway
There's a big difference between starring in feature films and succeeding on Broadway. While neither one is necessarily better than the other, each requires a different acting style and skill set. No matter how popular a Hollywood celebrity is, there's no guarantee he or she will make it on the Great White Way, but a surprising number of movie stars have given it a shot.
Not only did Scarlett Johansson succeed in the theater, she won the Tony for her Broadway debut in A View from the Bridge. In 2013 she returned briefly for a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Hugh Jackman had already starred as the rugged superhero Wolverine in two X-Men films before his Tony-winning portrayal of flamboyant bisexual singer/songwriter Peter Allen in the 2003 smash hit musical The Boy from Oz.
In the middle of the Harry Potter franchise, 17-year-old Daniel Radcliffe shocked fans by appearing nude in East End to Broadway transfer Equus, and soon had another Broadway hit, starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
During Katie Holmes’s years on Dawson’s Creek and early Hollywood comedies, it would have been difficult to imagine her on Broadway, but she was largely praised for her performance in the 2008 revival of the postwar drama All My Sons.
Daniel Craig was already the reigning James Bond when he gave Broadway a whirl, starring opposite Hugh Jackman in the two-character melodrama A Steady Rain in 2009, and he impressed critics in 2013’s Betrayal, costarring Craig’s wife Rachel Weisz.
Jeremy Piven’s successful Broadway debut in the 2008 revival of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow was overshadowed by his abrupt and controversial exit from the production, with his excuse of mercury poisoning doubted by many, including costar Elisabeth Moss.
At age 31, Nicole Kidman debuted on Broadway in the steamy and highly anticipated London transfer The Blue Room. Her performance, which included brief nudity, was described as “pure theatrical Viagra” by The Daily Telegraph.
Following the popular series Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston tried something completely different with his Tony-winning turn as President Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way. Cranston has returned to Broadway, but this time as the producer of the musical Finding Neverland.
Sean Combs (AKA P. Diddy or Puff Daddy) showed off his theatrical chops in the Tony-winning 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun, taking on the starring role of Walter Lee Younger, originated by Sidney Poitier.
Many popular young actresses have stepped into the provocative role of Sally Bowles in the musical Cabaret, including Michelle Williams, who played the character on Broadway for almost a year. She’s currently starring in the dramatic play Blackbird.
Tom Hanks went from being in the tabloids to starring as a tabloid journalist with his Tony-nominated Broadway debut in 2013’s Lucky Guy, the final play by Nora Ephron, who also wrote Hanks’ hit film Sleepless in Seattle.
Regarded as a serious actress for most of her career, Jessica Lange finally landed on Broadway in 1992 with a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her third play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, premieres in April.
Between The Social Network and The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield chose an ambitious project for his Broadway debut: the 2012 Death of a Salesman revival. It looks like someone wanted to be taken seriously.
While still co-starring in the music-themed series Glee, Jane Lynch found out what live musical theater is like. In 2013 she debuted on Broadway in the revival of Annie, as Miss Hannigan—a role not so different from Sue Sylvester.
Bradley Cooper was just beginning to succeed in Hollywood when he appeared in his first Broadway production, Three Days of Rain, in 2006. After achieving movie stardom, he returned in 2014 with a Tony-nominated performance in The Elephant Man.