Broderick bites into Bloom
NEW YORK-Carrie Bradshaw might be more famous than Leo Bloom in most of America, but in New York, home of both characters, Leo is a pretty big star. Bradshaw and Bloom are real-life couple Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Parker played Bradshaw on TV's Sex and the City while Broderick was Bloom in Broadway's The Producers, which comes to the big screen on Christmas Day. The Producers broke records at the box office and at the Tony Awards, with its creator, Mel Brooks (who wrote and directed the original 1968 hit comedy film), and stars Nathan Lane and Broderick getting a lot of credit for its enormous success.
The play and the film follow the misadventures of Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane), a theatrical producer, and his accountant, Leo Bloom. When Bloom tells Bialystock that it would be possible to make more money with a failed play than one that succeeds, Bialystock gives him a job as coproducer and tells him to look for the worst script ever written. They find Springtime for Hitler and convince the ex-Nazi who wrote it (Will Ferrell) that they are fans of the dictator. He sells it to them and they raise $2 million without telling the investors the name of the play. They know that if the play closes right away they can take the money and flee the country.
In an interview room at a New York hotel, Broderick says that Brooks, who adapted the stage play from his original movie, deserves all of the credit for making the play a hit. "He gave a lot of advice," he says. "He was very specific sometimes about jokes. He's very interested in you doing whatever you feel like, but if he has an idea he'll tell you and be very straightforward about it. He said once, 'If I give you, or anybody, advice about comedy, I'm one of the few people in the world who you should believe.' He's like, 'I'm Mel Brooks, so I do know about that stuff.' And it's true. So I always want to hear what he says. That was one of the great things about this job, just getting to know him and working with him."
That work is over now, with the movie done and Broderick having moved on to another Broadway hit, The Odd Couple, in which he again joins forces with Lane. He says that although it is rare for a stage actor to be given the lead in a film adapted from a play, he has done it twice now but was also passed over for the role he created on Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs. He says that eventually everyone has to say goodbye to a character they have inhabited.
"You know, it's bittersweet, I guess, with Leo Bloom, because I did do it twice and I think this [the film] probably does mean it's over, but you have to end it at some point with roles anyway. And it was very nice to do it on-stage and on film. Biloxi Blues is the other one I did on stage and on film. It was great for me to get an opportunity to do it on film, because I didn't get to do the movie of Brighton Beach Memoirs. So I was so happy to get that chance, and Mike Nichols directed it, which was great. The thing is, most films are very different from plays, but this one [The Producers] was similar to the play so it was easier. The script is almost exactly the same. So it was hard to not feel like you were sort of documenting the play. Of course, I tried to look at it as a new thing, because I just think a movie should stand on its own."
The biggest difference between the two mediums, according to Broderick, is that with a play you get close to the character and there is no one between the actors and the people who are in the theatre. He says that given a choice, he would take the theatre every time. "What's most fun about a play is you really have a feeling of living the whole guy, every night. And there's nobody editing; it's just you communicating with the audience and the other actors. So there's a great feeling of achievement at the end. Most days when you are making a film, you think, 'Oh, God, I hope they got something. I hope one of those takes was good. This is depressing, and there's so much traffic, and I'm in the car again.' You're phoning and asking, 'What's my call time tomorrow? Can I come in a little later?' You never get the post-show thing where you say, 'Well, let's go to Joe Allen's and have a martini and celebrate.' You just don't get that in films."