“Acting on stage is the hardest kind of acting you can do. You don’t have a score, you can’t fix any problems in post, and you’ve got to get it right on the day in the moment.” – Kerry Washington
Netflix’s American Son, an adaptation of the play that ran from November 2018 to January 2019 at the Booth Theatre on Broadway, hearkens back to when actors in a successful play would often quickly shoot a film version of the material to reach audiences far beyond New York City. Scandal star Kerry Washington made her first Broadway appearance in nearly a decade in the play. She spoke to IndieWire about the Netflix adaptation and how the role on stage helped her “shake off” her seven-year run on Scandal.
Though Washington was seeking something less challenging than a play after a seven-season run on a popular drama, she found herself unable to pass on American Son. She explains, “I was very resistant to the idea because I was tired and, for me, acting on stage is the hardest kind of acting you can do. You don’t have a score, you can’t fix any problems in post, and you’ve got to get it right on the day in the moment. There’s nothing to hide behind. But for those same reasons, it’s also the most rewarding experience an actor can have.”
In fact, Washington admits that playing a mother in a crisis was a good way to flex different acting muscles than the ones she used to play Olivia Pope on Scandal. She says, “It was really good for me and for my tool box to shake Olivia off and transform into her opposite.”
While the film was shot at a fast pace, the actors had the advantage of having “rehearsed” as the characters on stage for months prior to the shoot. Washington recalls, “We were shooting 23 pages a day, which was extraordinary, but we had already lived with these characters for four months and so we knew everything”