TODAY   |  March 22, 2014

‘Of Mice and Men’: Hollywood stars make their Broadway debuts

“It is terrifying,” said Chris O’Dowd, who will play Lenny in a stage production based on the classic novel by John Steinbeck. O’Dowd will co-star with Leighton Meester and James Franco. TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie interviews the cast.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back on a saturday morning with hollywood actors take on broadway . they'll all star in the revival of the play "of mice and men." we sat down and asked them what it was like to make their broadway debut .

>> taking on the american classic "of mice and men." james franco from spider man and other movies plays george. chris takes on the role of lenny.

>> this is a career first for each actor.

>> all are making your broadway debut . is that exciting?

>> terribly exciting.

>> how you feeling about it?

>>> i feel great. i feel very excited. it's amazing. we were at the theater yesterday.

>> is it nerve racking at all to think broadway ?

>> i always feel like if you have a good pilot, you know, i don't get scared. we have the best director ever so -- i'm not nervous at all.

>> terrible is not bad.

>> you should be.

>> i'm just, yeah, blissful ignorance. obviously i'm screwing up all over the place.

>> the show is weeks from opening night. the co stars are working together to bring the classic john steinbeck novel to life.

>> did you dream of bringing this role or others of john 's to life?

>> that's a good question. there's a lot of movies made. i felt there was territory that had been done, but in fact this play hasn't been done here in so long. it really feels like this is fresh. it's great. we are going to reach audiences that don't have other productions to compare to.

>> the last time this play was on broadway , my part was played by james earl jones . i feel nobody is going to mix us up. i have a fresh take on it. i feel confident about that.

>> you're playing lenny, someone with a mental ldisability. how do you prepare to play a role like that?

>> it's open to interpretation. it definitely feels to me, having looked into it a lot, he's got what is characterized now as mild down syndrome. i kind of just tried to watch as much stuff to make it as specific as possible.

>> how is it different as actors to be on a stage, live audience, versus movie set ?

>> live performance aspect is something we'll find out.

>> you've done it before.

>> well, not with you guys. i've done a lot of theater before, but never on broadway . it's terrifying. i would be -- i would have done cat if they asked me to. i'm happy to be here.

>> anyone worried about stage flight?

>> probably beforehand, the day of. once we're in the scene, all that goes away.

>> james, chris and layton. it opens april 16th . carson?