Alex talks to Broadway.com about Willy Wonka and a few other things. Just a few of the questions:
After a distinguished a career as a classical actor, it must be lovely to give musical theater another go.
Oh, it is. Working in musicals is something I always dreamed of, and then it happened with My Fair Lady, which was a completely joyful experience. And then came Charlie, which I am aware makes considerable demands on me, but I’m really enjoying it.
You made your public debut as Wonka at the Olivier Awards before you’d started performing the role. Was that daunting?
I made the mistake of looking at it online recently, which was a big error [laughs]. It was completely terrifying. The screen flew out and there I was as Willy Wonka thinking, “I wonder if I could just walk back into the wings now!”
No worries about the glass elevator that flies you and Charlie over the audience?
Not really. I don’t particularly suffer from fear of heights, but I do make sure to hold on very tightly to Charlie’s hands.
You'll be playing two roles—or two versions of the same role—in the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van.
I’m guessing that may come off a bit like the twins in The Social Network: Alex Jennings acting with Alex Jennings? [Laughs.] Hopefully, we’ll be filming in the house in north London where the events [in the play] actually happened; Alan is writing to the neighbors as we speak.
You’re no stranger to Dame Maggie Smith, having acted opposite her in The Importance of Being Earnest in 1993.
And I had a wonderful time with her—a really fabulous time. How can you not enjoy being on stage with one of this country’s greatest if not the greatest living actresses? All that is left is to try to live up to the mark and match her, and what’s been wonderful is that the Charlie producers are giving me the necessary time off to do the film before returning and continuing in the part through to next May.
Is your current experience in Charlie making you look around the musical landscape to see what else might possibly appeal?
Not in any sense of being very proactive, since that’s not usually how I go about getting work. But it has given me more confidence in this field, certainly, and I have to say I do love Sondheim and would love to do one of his musicals one day. I wonder whether that could ever happen?
Read the full interview at Broadway.com.