Like many successful actors, Cristin Milioti wasn’t a name anyone would have recognized a year ago. Yet now she is the star of the hit Broadway musical Once (for which she was nominated for a Tony), starring in the indie film Sleepwalk With Me, and soon will have a major role in The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Luckily she was able to find a few moments to talk about her success with Interview magazine, in which she talks about how she has gotten to this point in her career and tackles the aggravating issue of cell phones going off in theaters.
While Milioti was initially very fortunate when it came to acting, she soon found out that success wasn’t as easy. She recalls, “I moved here when I was 18 to go to school, and I dropped out after a year. But then this super old-timey agent—like the kind that’s in Sleepwalk With Me—had seen me in some black-box, super weird college show and started sending me out on auditions and I booked a job right away. It was a lot of luck right off the bat, to the point where I was like, ‘This is easy! And also, you can make a ton of money.’ And then like a year into it I was like, ‘Oh, I see, that’s not true.’ [laughs] But I’ve been very lucky I’ve never had to have another job.” However, she admits that at this point in her career she still is often on the sidelines when it comes to finding work, adding, “I feel like they’re always paying you for the time you spend in audition rooms. Waiting for two hours, then being seen for five minutes and then they just give it to Lindsay Lohan anyway.”
Of course, don’t let Milioti fool you: she is receiving work, including a major role in Martin Scorsese’s next film, The Wolf of Wall Street. While she did end up getting the part, the auditioning process unfortunately came during the one week this year that she wouldn’t want to have auditions. She reveals, “I auditioned. They called about two days before the Tonys, when we were doing press from nine to five and we were doing rehearsals at 8:00 a.m., and they were like, ‘Oh, by the way, can you come in tomorrow and audition with Leonardo DiCaprio?'” Nonetheless, she is positive about the experience, adding, “It was crazy. It was a really good week.”
As for her starring role in Once, the adaptation of the low-budget Irish film, the interviewer also pokes fun at Milioti (as many have) since she still hasn’t seen the movie the musical she stars in is based off of! Milioti justifies not seeing the film by saying, “I still don’t want to see it while we’re doing the show, just in case I watch it and I’m like, ‘I’m doing it wrong!’ Which is impossible, because we’re two different people.”
Though Milioti loves theater, she admits that she’s looking forward to getting more into film simply because it’s less time-consuming. She explains, “There’s nothing like theater. It’s really amazing. But it does take up all of your time. I would like to get into more film, just because I find it super fascinating.” She elaborates by saying, “It’s so different from theater. Even just the chronological issue of doing everything out of order is fascinating. And in theater—you don’t really have control in either medium—but in theater, you’re at least driving your own ship.”
Still, she doesn’t have a preference for either, but she does say that the live aspect of theater makes it more challenging to focus. She says, “They’re both incredibly challenging, because you have to have this emotional stamina, but you also have to have crazy focus. Like, today… during the scene at the end where [Once co-star Steve Kazee] and I are standing on the beach and it’s going be like the last time we see each other and he asks me to come to New York, we had seven cell phones go off… There’s no instruments playing; it’s just us. And you could have all the focus in the world, but it just felt like someone was like sucking the life out of us. You know? You’re standing about to say a line and it goes off.”
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident, as Milioti reveals, “We have probably one show a week where we don’t have cell phones. And listen—I want to preface this by saying that our audiences are amazing—but we’ve had shows where people will have full-on conversations about what’s happening. There’s a part of me that’s like, ‘Well, at least you’re enthusiastic!’ And then the second part is like, ‘We’re five feet away, you must know that we can hear you.'”
Thankfully, when I saw Once back in June I didn’t hear a single cell phone. C’mon people, mind you manners!