"Don't explain it in that little section below the headline," Ciarán Hinds instructs while organizing tea for the two of us in his dressing room at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. "It should just be, headline: ‘Mr. Hinds isn't funny,' period. Then your first sentence can be, ‘Hinds comes from a long line of dead stoics,'" he laughs. Of course it's not true. Anyone who helps an interviewer fabricate skewed headlines and desk copy has a sense of humor, and Hinds continues to show it off with wry one-liners and well-placed expletives. A Belfast native and veteran onscreen bad guy in flicks like Munich and TV shows like Game of Thrones, the leading man is currently dominating Broadway's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, playing infirmed Southern non-gentleman Big Daddy opposite Scarlett Johansson, Benjamin Walker, and Debra Monk. It's a role he nearly didn't take, convinced an American might be better suited to the Southern gothic poetics of Tennessee Williams. With the show's run coming to an end on March 31, we checked in with Hinds to talk about poetry, the possibility of doing drag, and his Broadway run with Scarlett and company.
You said opening night you felt there must be somebody more qualified to do American, poetic Tennessee Williams than you. Do you still feel similarly?
That's tough. I said yes to the job, I get paid to do the job. The job is to not shortchange anybody. But no [actor] ever really knows what [audiences get] from what they do. You try to work, with the director and your fellow actors, to get somewhere, but other people are the judge of whether you hit that note right. That's why sometimes you say yes to parts like this, even if you're unsure. You're unsure about much of what you do. Sometimes people will say to me ‘Why do you always play bad men? [points to face] It's the face!