According to the performance schedule of the recent Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, which starred James Franco and Chris O’Dowd, the last performance of the play was Sunday, July 27. So why were the cast and crew back at the Longacre Theatre on Tuesday, July 29 performing the play again before an invitation-only audience? Well, the cameramen needed to film a second performance for footage… and don’t worry, they were supposed to be there.
Of Mice and Men was chosen to be the first Broadway production to be featured on the UK’s National Theatre Live series, which screens filmed plays at movie theaters. Franco admitted to the Associated Press that the experience of saying good-bye twice was odd, but overall very welcome. He explains, “We had our big cry on Sunday because it was the last paying audience and we had our big party. Everybody gave their speeches and goodbyes. And then it was like a victory lap to come back on Tuesday and get to do it again.”
Though John Steinbeck’s story is as American as they come, Franco points out that with Irishmen O’Dowd and Jim Norton in the cast the production already felt international. He says, “It’s a very American play with some European actors in our production, so it felt like, ‘Oh if they come over and film it as their very first American production,’ to me it just seemed to fit perfectly.”
Though Franco, O’Dowd, and most of the cast have experience acting for film and television, Franco notes that the actors didn’t feel the need to alter their performance for the cameras. He says, “We realized we didn’t have to change anything. We could still perform it as if it was for a theatrical audience even though there were film cameras.”
In the end, the extra production felt natural for Franco even with the cameras there. He recalls, “We really learned to relax and keep doing what we’d been doing all this time. It was almost as if we’d had 150 rehearsals for the performance and we could just do what we’d always been doing but also we got to have fun because it was sort of like a bonus day for everybody.”