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You’re best known for originating the leads for ‘War Horse’ and ‘Curious Incident…’ 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' must be a totally different experience?
‘A new play is like you’re in a band and you’re writing a new album together; this is like turning up and being given an incredible piece of music and being told to learn to play it.’
Edward Albee died just before this production was announced – was that a blow?
‘Yeah, this must have been in the planning for years and it would have been amazing for him to come and see it. He was an amazing man. I met him, you know…’
‘A few years ago now I was flown to New York to audition for him for a play. It didn’t happen for whatever reason, but when he was in London he said, “Do you want to go for lunch?” so we met and we went to Wagamama’s on Lexington Street.’
Luke Treadaway as Nick and Imogen Poots as Honey in Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf'. © Johan Persson
The legendary American playwright Edward Albee was into Wagamama’s?
‘I was as surprised as you! He was living nearby and he said that he loved it!’
George and Martha are the iconic, famous roles – are Nick and Honey the straight parts?
‘In a way Martha and George have an honest relationship with each other, they say what they think and they’re passionate. Whereas Honey and Nick, they only have this illusion of being the perfect couple. There’s a lot more going on under the surface.’
We’re all quite obsessed with America at the moment – does this great 1960s American play have anything to say about the Trump era?
‘There are similarities. The play was set coming out of the 50s going into the 60s, more McCarthy era than Swinging Sixties. Now we have an American government which is trying to stamp out free speech and civil liberties and that was sort of the world that Albee wrote this in. I’m no scholar on the subject, but it does feel like we are entering a time when truth and illusion are becoming warped.’
You also starred in the film version of ‘A Streetcat Named Bob’. How did you get on with your feline co-star?
‘Me and Bob got on well, but a cat is a cat at the end of the day: they won’t be told what to do.’
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until May 27.