Amy Ryan: “I knew I was going to be a character actor when I started. I knew that would mean longevity.”
“I’m more of an observer. I like watching the people at the party. It’s the plague of being an actor — you’re never really living life, just taking notes.” – Amy Ryan
Actress Amy Ryan hasn’t done a play in New York in some time, and she tells the New York Times that she wasn’t planning on doing another anytime soon. However, she stars as the lead in Roundabout Theater Company’s Love, Love, Love, a play written by King Charles III playwright Mike Bartlett as a woman who ages from 19 to 64 — from the height of Beatlemania in London to 2012. in the interview, she explains how her career has prepared her to play more mature roles — though she hopes for more variety.
One of the reasons why Ryan enjoys playing Sandra so much is because the character is so different from she is. She says, “Sandra is one of those people who’s really the life of the party. I’m more of an observer. I like watching the people at the party. It’s the plague of being an actor — you’re never really living life, just taking notes. I’m always playing these bad mothers. They’re more fun.”
Unlike other actresses who have difficulty moving into more mature roles in part because of overexposure, Ryan wasn’t a widely known actress until she was in her mid-30s. She explains, “My career took off later, it’s true. People suddenly knew who I was. But from the time I was 18, I always worked, I always paid my own bills. I never had to have another job. So even though I was living in obscurity, I had this confidence that I could support myself. I would save money so I could take the jobs that weren’t paying, the roles that I think will make me a better actor.”
Still, that doesn’t mean Ryan is thrilled by the types of roles she is commonly offered now that she is approaching 50. She points out, “There’s just not a lot of variety. Wives. Ex-wives. Ex-wives who are understanding. I’m bored of the wifey-poos. I’d like to see the reverse. Let the men hold the laundry basket, listen to the problems and be the sounding board.”
One advantage Ryan believes she has over other actresses is that she planned her career for longevity by tackling a variety of roles in her thirty-year career. She explains, “I feel like I can turn my whole self off. I can blend in, and that helps me. I feel most proud when people say,’“I didn’t realize that was you!’ If you took all the characters I played and lined up their photographs, I don’t think many of them would look alike. I knew I was going to be a character actor when I started. I knew that would mean longevity. The glamorous parts are not interesting. They look great, but that means nothing at the end of the day. Where are all those glamour actresses now?”