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Watched man

Patrick Wilson leads the acting heavyweights—plus one infamous newbie—in All My Sons on Broadway.

By Allison Williams

He's been nominated for Tonys (The Full Monty and Oklahoma!), an Emmy and a Golden Globe (Angels in America), so why is Patrick Wilson's costar getting so much attention? We don't mean Great White Way regulars John Lithgow or Dianne Wiest, who play the parents of Chris Keller, Wilson's World War II vet character in Arthur Miller's All My Sons. No, everyone is talking about Mrs. Tom Cruise—Katie Holmes, that is—who takes on the role of Ann Deever, the sweetheart of Chris's MIA brother. The play has plenty of Miller's usual froth and frivolity—there's subjugated guilt, wartime secrets and the tattered remains of an American dream or two. But for Wilson, who also gave the world such cheery films as Little Children and Hard Candy, bleak is no problem: His 2009 comic-based Watchmen follows a tribe of superheroes who make the X-Men look cuddlier than the Smurfs. Eight years after his all-the-way striptease in the Broadway version of The Full Monty, the actor keeps his clothes on while digging for bathroom humor in Arthur Miller.

How did you end up in All My Sons?
I met with the director, gee, several months ago. Heh—you do a play set in the '40s and you start saying things like "swell" and "gee whiz!"

So, no profanity for you?
[Laughs] No, never. Actually, a lot of rehearsals feel like college again, like drama school. It's nice to be refreshed on why you do this for a living.

Like drama school—as in trust falls and stuff?
Close. I mean, there's a truth to all those drama-class stereotypes. But most of those things are geared toward camaraderie and trusting your cast. Even the trust fall has its place.

I feel like John Lithgow would drop me, just to be funny.
That's why you have to work on your trust! You have trust issues, don't you, Allison?

Busted. All My Sons is about war and profiteering. Is there any talk of pointing out the modern parallels?
The sad truth of it is that I don't think you need to. The business of war is such a huge umbrella over all our heads. You don't have to hammer it into people's heads.

It's kind of bleak.
With all of Arthur Miller's plays, there's the current of deconstruction of the family. I mean, it's a hard sell. How do you sell Shakespeare? It's Shakespeare. If we hold up our end of the bargain, it should be great. But I don't think it's a big downer.

How does Katie Holmes fit into the group?
She works in great. We're all coming from very different backgrounds. We're all in the same boat.

Is she comfortable taking on something as heavy as Arthur Miller her first time out?
Well, I'm not going to give answers for her... I thought these questions were going to be funny! You're asking me about war, and Katie Holmes's dramatic whatever. Come on!

Okay, I have a copy here of Time Out New York from December 2000, with you naked on the cover.
Yes. Now we're talking.

Would you do more nude scenes?
In Watchmen I am naked. It's important to see Dan naked in front of his costume. I don't think I've ever done anything that's completely gratuitous.

Except the cover of TONY.
I was with the other guys [from The Full Monty], I wouldn't have done it by myself! You can't tell, but we did have things on—you don't really see our private parts.

Is the nude scene why you decided to gain weight for Watchmen and not use a fat suit? I've heard your character, Nite Owl, called "the fat Batman."
People have this image of him being fat, but really it's just when he takes his clothes off in the graphic novel, he's...

Big boned?
He's a big boy! Look at him in the graphic novel, and then you'll call me back and say he's not fat. I wanted to gain weight 'cause he's a big guy who has gotten soft.

Would you ever do a kids' movie, just so your kid could see it?
Oh, I'd love to, you kidding me?

Because you are a little dark.
I'm a bit of a dork, yeah. I listen to Hair Nation in the morning on Sirius radio. It's all '80s hair bands.

Well, I said "dark," actually.
[Laughs] Your first movie is basically your audition tape; mine was Angels in America. Which was great, but it doesn't exactly send you the next Apatow movie right away.

You like that fratty boy humor?
I'm the youngest of three boys. I grew up on bathroom humor.

Not a lot of poo jokes in Arthur Miller.
I'm trying to find them in there.

All My Sons begins previews at the Schoenfeld Theatre Sept 18.

NEXT: Vice Squad Experimental theater outfit Radiohole is growing up, but not too much—the group is still getting wasted and naked onstage.

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