The Scholar Actor
“It’s Texans taking over Broadway. It’s pretty crazy,” Brian J. Smith said, laughing.
“Collin was where I developed confidence in myself. I didn’t know if I was any good. Collin is where I was told, ‘Yes you are, you should be proud of that and do this.’ I wouldn’t have had the guts to audition for Juilliard without Collin College,” Smith added.
Known for the television show “Stargate Universe” and PBS’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” Smith is currently playing Andrei in “The Columnist.” This is his second time on Broadway. He performed in “Come Back, Little Sheba” in 2008. When he is not rehearsing or acting, Smith is reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” Proust’s last volume of “In Search of Lost Time” and a biography on Lyndon Johnson.
“Being on stage with John (Lithgow) is very exciting. I have always been a big fan. Every night when I go out there I have to pinch myself and then, of course, do my job. As a human being, John is extraordinary. He is one of the nicest, most generous, kindest men I have ever known. He makes us feel like a company,” Smith said.
According to Smith, his fellow actors have so many famous friends that he has requested not to know who is coming to performances to avoid anxiety.
“Last night Jim Caviezel (“The Thin Red Line”) was here. Another night Grace pulled me in and said, ‘I want you to meet my mom (Meryl Streep),’” Smith said.
Smith was drawn to his role as the Russian Andrei. A history buff, he finds communism and the pre-Berlin-wall-falling era fascinating.
“This is the first time I have been able to play a character that is pretty transformative. The play takes place between 1954 and 1968. Andrei undergoes a lot of life changes. There is a bit of characterization that I have to build up just by being a Russian. The way they use their bodies is very different. There is nothing like being on stage. Telling a story to a live audience is what I love most,” Smith said.
Don’t miss part two of the series—coming your way soon.