EXCLUSIVE: Laurie Metcalf Owns the Stage in Tony-Nominated 'Doll's House, Part 2' Performance
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A longtime
scene-stealer on TV -- thanks to her many supporting roles as Jackie on Roseanne,
Carolyn Bigsby on Desperate Housewives, Dr. Jenna James on Getting
On
 and Sarah on Horace and Pete -- Laurie Metcalf simply
owns the Broadway stage. There’s no competing with the longtime actress, who
was superb in The Other Place, performed maniacal laps around Bruce
Willis in Misery and recently earned her fourth Tony nomination
-- this time for playing Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House, Part 2.

The play -- a sequel
to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 breakdown of marriage and gender roles -- sees Metcalf
leading a standout cast, including fellow nominees Chris Cooper, Jayne
Houdyshell and Condola Rashad, as Nora returns to the house she once left in
need of a divorce now that she’s a successful feminist writer. What follows is
a humorous 90-minute debate of society and gender roles as Nora lets her
thoughts fly out of her mouth. “She is very much quick on her feet,” Metcalf
tells ET about the challenge of playing what she describes as a “glib”
character.

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Nora’s penchant for
arguing lets Metcalf tag team with the other actors as she debates her way
through the family, including her husband, daughter and the nursemaid. “[They]
take each other on and [then I] turn over here and hear somebody new,” the
actress says of the volley of dialogue that starts vibrating like a motor. “It
starts to ramp up; the humor kicks in, and I think it’s a great rise for the
audience.”

Written by Lucas
Hnath, A Doll’s House, Part 2 marks the playwright’s Broadway
debut. It was originally commissioned by the South Coast Repertory in
California before opening at the John Golden Theatre in New York City. “We all
worked on it together,” Metcalf says of the collaborative effort of seeing the
show through from the workshop phase to the Broadway stage. “Everybody had a
say and it was helpful in, I think, finding a balance for all four characters’
viewpoints. Lucas was open to working with everybody.”

As a result, the
play earned eight Tony nominations, including Best Play and Best
Direction for Sam Gold, with Ben Brantley writing for The New York
Times
 that “every character in A Doll’s House, Part 2 is
very much a living individual -- a solipsist, as we all are, with his or her
own firm and self-serving view of things. They’re all right; they’re all wrong.
But at least they’re talking, which is what it takes to build a world that
everybody can inhabit.”

“[I] just felt
really proud of the whole gang,” Metcalf says of the group effort.

Of course, Metcalf
is not the only Hollywood star on Broadway to earn recognition this season.
Also nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play are Cate
Blanchett (The Present), Sally Field (The Glass Menagerie), Laura
Linney (The Little Foxes)
and Jennifer Ehle (Oslo). When it comes
to sharing the category with Field in particular, Metcalf starts into a story
about “hanging out” with the actress at Sardi’s in Times Square before
interrupting herself: “I can’t even believe I’m saying that.

“She sent me the
best opening night gift I’ve ever gotten in my life, which was an eye mask for
sleeping, because we were comparing how hard it is for us to sleep in [the
dressing room] and be fresh for the show, which is a huge weird worry on a
two-show day,” the actress continues.

While a hit on
Broadway, A Doll's House, Part 2 is set to close on July 23
after a limited nine-week run, no doubt allowing Metcalf to turn her attention
to the reboot of Roseanne on ABC. Two weeks after the Tony nominations
were announced, the network confirmed that the family comedy was returning for
eight episodes
in 2018. Speaking with ET before the news was official, all
Metcalf could say was that “everyone is on board,” referring to the entire
original cast, which is set to return with Sarah Chalke, who briefly replaced
Lecy Goranson as Becky, in another role.

“I can’t imagine
where the writers would take it,” Metcalf added. “It could be open to anything,
but I can only imagine there will be a lot of laughs among the cast, because
that’s how it used to be.”