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TODAY   |  March 17, 2014

‘Of Mice and Men’ stars visit TODAY

Hollywood stars Leighton Meester, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd join TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie to chat about their Broadway debut in “Of Mice and Men,” which they say often gets emotional.

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>> that's "what's trending today" back in 30 seconds.

>>> 8:19. now back with a classic returning to broadway with a decidedly modern cast.

>> that's right "of mice and men" opens next month. it stars james franco , "bridesmaids" chris o'dell. we sat down with them not far from rehearsals and i began by asking the group what it is like to prepare for a broadway debut .

>> this is a lot of firsts for me. and i'm so happy to be part of it and seeing these guys work is pretty incredible. and i can't keep myself from crying once we get to certain parts that are emotional.

>> we do cry a lot in rehearsal. it's weird.

>> from "gossip girl" to "spiderman" to "bridesmaids." they have made their marks on a big and small screen but now taking aim at an american classic . this time on broadway.

>> you called "of mice and men" the ultimate bromance.

>> more a bro tragedy.

>> yeah.

>> bromantic comedy.

>> you've got to have chemistry.

>> yeah. i like the idea that these characters love each other. and i think that will be what people will take away from our production of it. i hope.

>> that's the key. how do humans connect in the face of, you know, this larger kind of system? and if you're going to dramatize that, you better have chemistry between the people. and so when ana shapiro, the director said she's thinking about casting, i thought -- no.

>> is it one of those things you've got to meet to know if it's fair? like dating?

>> no, i had a sense, just from with work and what people have said about him. and you have a sense. he's a cool dude. and i was right.

>> chris, let me share a brief description of you.

>> oh [ bleep ].

>> "bridesmaids" bestowed sex symbol status on the irishman with the self-dismissed teddy bear looks.

>> can you confirm or deny your sex symbol status?

>> confirmed. self-dismissed and teddy bear love. that's not even a description of something. self-dismissed. is that a real thing?

>> ask our writers.

>> that's you.

>> that's me?

>> do you guys agree?

>> sure. of course. well --

>> took you long enough.

>> yeah, sorry.

>> definitely a teddy bear .

>> yeah.

>> depends what she's looking for.

>> leighton, your character, she's kind of bad. how do i know this? she's dangerous to herself and to men.

>> wow.

>> according to an old dvd. isn't that crazy?

>> yeah.

>> of all the things they could pull out, that's what they --

>> can i see that?

>> of course.

>> crazy. whoa.

>> i think this is obviously very old. and i think it's sort of the point, you know. i think that ultimately in a very subliminal way, steinbeck wrote it as a commentary on how women are treated.

>> you think it's a commentary because she's almost a caricature, she's a temptress.

>> steinbeck said it himself. he said she's an object. she's not even given a name. she's basically just a catalyst for what happens.

>> the stars have done their best to build excitement for the show, even posting selfies, a franco staple as they make their way to the stage. i had to ask -- what did you think of the big selfie at the oscars?

>> oh. right. good. it was a good one. i took a few selfies at my oscars and i got criticized for it. and now she's getting a lot of attention for hers. i don't get it.

>> what's up with that?

>> i don't know.

>> in a way, you kind of invented --

>> i guess maybe i didn't include meryl streep and bradley cooper in my oscar selfies. maybe that's where i went wrong.

>> never to be outdone, we create our own version of the modern american classic , the "of mice and men selfie." steinbeck would be so proud.

>> well, previews start wednesday, the opening set for april 16th . it's really cool. hopefully will renew interest in this classic.