TODAY   |  April 16, 2014

Marisa Tomei ‘relentlessly chipper’ in Broadway role

The actress joins TODAY to chat about her new role on Broadway in “The Realistic Joneses,” and being associated with her “My Cousin Vinny” role more than 20 years later.

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

>> are joined now by marisa tomei , who always shines in an array of roles. take a look.

>> the way this case is going, i ain't never getting married.

>> audiences will always remember her oscar-winning performance in "my cousin vinny ." she earned two more nominations for the drama "in the bedroom" and the highly acclaimed "the wrestler." now tomei is back on broadway, starring in a play called "the realistic joneses." this is a dark comedy about neighbors who share the same last name and whose lives become very intertwined as well.

>> i always wanted to live in one of these little towns near the mountain, so one night he comes home and literally just says, literally -- i forget what you said exactly.

>> just something about moving to one of these little towns near the mountains.

>> that was it. it was all sort of a whirlwind.

>> the time had come. it's what my lady wanted and what my lady wants, with some huge and basic exceptions, my lady gets.

>> marisa tomei , good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> i heard for this play, they kind of had you at hello. when you heard the character's name was pony, you're like i'm in.

>> that is true. and a lot of promise in that name.

>> there's a lot of character in that name. this is an interesting story. i mean, it manages to be funny, but there's some kind of deep themes in it. these neighbors, they're right next door to each other and their lives become intertwined. i don't want to give it away. so why don't you give it away?

>> i thought you were doing so well.

>> how would you describe the story?

>> well, i think it's -- well, it's very funny story, as you were saying. there's a lot of laughs throughout it. a broad comedy. but it also works on thematically about illness, and the fact that both the neighbors' names are joneses, it plays on the theme of coveting what your neighbor has. do you really want everything that they have? sometimes what they have is not so hot. anne.

>> and your character pony, i would call her relentlessly chipper.

>> maybe a little absent minded. yes, relentlessly chipper. she's a happy person. it is fun to go to work and have to be that happy every day. ignorance is bliss is definitely part of her character.

>> i've heard that you've described there's something on the stage where the feeling is just so exciting to get that instant feedback. but i imagine it's kind of a high wire , too. if they don't laugh when they're supposed to, you don't get the reaction you want, is it a little scary being onstage?

>> yeah, it is always a little scary, but it's nice to have that little bit of a goose.

>> so you were mentioning the backdrop is between neighbors. so kind of had me wondering. do you consider yourself a good neighbor? are you a neighborly person? or are you the person to avert your eyes and grumble good morning?

>> i hope i'm not like that. well, you know, my dad was very civic minded, is very civic minded. he's always the president of the block association, even from when i was little , until now. and so i think i have that mindset of -- i like that feeling, too, of knowing my neighbors and sharing -- you know, making sure someone has your key. you know, it's the little lovely exchanges that are really nice. and then sometimes you become great friends, too.

>> i was thinking about we started this introduction of you with "my cousin vinny ", which, of course, is a classic role. do you love that, that you're still associated with that role more than 20 years later, or are you kind of over it?

>> you know, i had a period where i was over it, now i'm back. i'm back loving it again. because it's really nice. it still makes people laugh.

>> i went to law school , actually my criminal law professor told us we had to watch "my cousin vinny " because it actually was correct.

>> oh, my gosh.

>> what's the line that people most often quote to you.

>> the biological clock one, yeah.

>> stamp the foot and all that. it's so great to see you.

>> nice to see you, too.

>> i want to remind everybody, you can catch "the realistic joneses" here in new york.

>> and you're a lawyer. i caught that.

>> don't hold it against me.

>>> coming up next, "the biggest