Margaret Colin might currently be on hiatus from playing Blair Waldorf’s mother, Eleanor, on Gossip Girl, but not from portraying a sharp-tongued commander of an estate. As Lady Croom in the current Broadway revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Colin sheds the Prada wardrobe for a corset as a member of the show’s 19th-century group of ensemble characters. Colin is a native New Yorker who has been a consistent presence on stage and screen since she made her TV debut in 1979 in the soap opera The Edge of Night. In addition to the bossy Eleanor Waldorf, her major work has included Independence Day, The Devil’s Own, and Three Men and a Baby. Colin sat down with Stage Rush to talk about making sense of Arcadia, gasping for breath in her costume, and how Gossip Girl is influencing her performance.
Tom Stoppard was present during your rehearsals for Arcadia. What is he like?
He’s tall, dresses really well, and he’s much more European than he is British. He’s a genius that likes to show off, so what better place for him to be in but the theater? He’s a gentleman. He has a generosity in spirit, and the way he treats women is delicious. We spoke for two days for five hours at a time, and normally with a room full of actors, you’d want to kill yourself, because we want to talk.
While becoming involved in this project, did you find any of it intimidating?
I did not have the sense of being intimidated when we started, but once we got on our feet and rolling, I was very grounded for doing the work. Once more elements were added and we had to do it up to speed, make the connections and try to find the life of the play apart from individual exchanges, then yeah. Lady Croom is kind of outside of that world. She’s really just concerned with her garden and trying to keep control of her world. I just had to jump in and swim as fast as I could. I was not intimidated by that. I was just eager to do the work and find it. The first time I saw this play, I adored Billy [Crudup]. I had a girlfriend, Haviland Morris who played Chloe, and I came to support her. I didn’t have a clue what the play was about. I remembered the turtle, the waltzing at the end, and somebody saying something about underwear—drawers! That’s all I remembered. After reading it, the idea that it was so dense and funny turned me on. It was something I could commit to for all these months and stay intrigued. Read more