Within the play Prima Facie, Jodie Comer is alone on stage for the complete size of the present’s 100 minutes, beginning as a brash, bloviating barrister, then turning to a quieter, extra weak lady looking for justice for herself within the very authorized system that had beforehand propped her up.
Earlier than making her West Finish debut within the play final yr, the Killing Eve star says she hadn’t appeared on stage (apart from a play in a “very, very small theater” in Scotland when she was 16 years outdated). And so taking over this marathon position not solely required intense dedication and memorization, but in addition a recalibration of her appearing fashion to be able to emote to an 800-plus seat theater, reasonably than to the digital camera.
Within the drama, written by Suzie Miller, Comer performs Tessa Ensler, a gifted, younger lawyer who defends people accused of sexual assault after which goes by means of the justice system herself as a sufferer of rape. Comer has been taking part in Tessa since April 2022 on the West Finish (the place she received the Olivier Award for Finest Actress) and has now carried the position to Broadway for an 12-week run that started this April. One yr in, she says the position has made a deep affect on her life.
“I noticed that I used to be fairly fearful final yr of lots of issues, particularly in my means to do that,” Comer mentioned. “And I feel that truly, by means of this expertise, I’ve been in a position to rework that into a way of belief, which is a very nice feeling.”
As soon as she will get by means of the ultimate eight weeks of the run, the Free Man star says she’s open to doing extra theater, however she notes that she’s “intrigued to see” what sort of position might convey her again, after performing in such a difficult, however “exhilarating” play.
Comer, who’s Tony nominated for her portrayal, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why she determined to tackle the position, how she ready for it and the way its modified all year long.
What did you suppose while you had been first approached about doing this position?
I believed that this was mighty in each sense of the phrase. I wasn’t really positive if I wanted to audition or not. So I used to be additionally pondering that it might have been despatched to many actresses and whoever was going to do it could be the luckiest particular person alive. However I additionally simply didn’t know the way I might get to a degree of executing it. I knew it was going to be a problem and it was going to vary me as an individual. I used to be taking a look at like 96 pages of dialogue and pondering “How on earth would you be on stage alone and do that?” so I used to be actually overwhelmed, however simply blown away by the script and the journey that I might go on to be able to get to a spot of performing that eight reveals every week. I used to be deeply moved by it. It felt crucial.
Did you find yourself having to audition for it?
No, it was really given to me. I requested my agent “When do I’ve to audition?” And he or she mentioned that James Bierman, the producer, and Suzie Miller, the author, had mentioned if it was one thing I linked with, Suzie would love to speak with me. And I bear in mind it was the primary lockdown and I used to be in Liverpool with my household and Suzie was in Australia and we jumped on a name and we had been on the telephone for like two hours. I simply knew then that there was no query. And I additionally knew that if I noticed one other actress do that, I might remorse it for the remainder of my life. I feel that’s at all times a very good indicator as as to if to do one thing or not.
How did you get into the character of Tessa?
There was a lot about her that I associated to due to the place she’s from, her household. Simply being from Liverpool and the traits of the people who find themselves from there, individuals I do know, people who find themselves in my very own life. I feel an enormous factor that I needed to sort of embrace was her mind and sense of self and energy that she held and self-confidence. That felt…not overseas to me, however I virtually needed to embrace these elements of myself to be able to discover her. And the way she commanded the area and the arrogance that she carries in her execution. I feel I positively do have that inside myself, and I’ve come to understand that much more by means of her, which is humorous. I feel you could, as a rule, study out of your characters. It’s a transaction. It’s like, you educate them one thing and so they at all times go away you with some type of perception into your individual life.
Within the play, you’re not solely talking as Tessa, however you’re additionally appearing out all of the traces of dialogue round her. How did you put together for and get to the place of being able to carry out that eight reveals every week?
We began rehearsals in March  and I had began studying the dialogue the November earlier than, as a result of I actually needed to be off e book by the point I obtained into the rehearsal room. After which Justin, our director, obtained me up on my ft on the primary day. It was sort of all methods go, and I hadn’t been within the rehearsal room lots. I’d solely been in a rehearsal room as soon as earlier than once I was actually younger, and it was all very new to me, and I used to be extremely intimidated and nervous. However it was nearly being within the rehearsal room and getting up on our ft and dealing by means of it and taking part in round with issues.
How does it really feel now, performing this position in entrance of audiences each evening?
Exhilarating. It feeds my soul in such an enormous manner. I feel it’s completely tough and difficult, but it surely actually invigorates me. I really feel like I’m having a dialog with 800-plus individuals each evening and attending to see the way it strikes them. And I feel in theater, the vitality could be very kinetic, and it’s so addictive. I simply really feel so, so fortunate that I’m in a position to be a part of this enormous puzzle of people that introduced this collectively. It’s uncommon that you just’re blessed with a bit of fabric and a task that challenges you on this manner. So I’m simply attempting to take in each second of all of it.
You’ve now been with the play by means of its West Finish run and now on Broadway. Has the position modified in any respect or advanced throughout that course of?
Completely. I feel now it’s simply sort of sunk into me. The fabric, Tessa. I really feel like I’m discovering new issues. I additionally really feel very a lot modified by this expertise. And I feel we will change a lot inside a yr. So I really feel like by means of my very own evolution, Tess can be evolving simply by means of various things each evening that I discover and suppose, “Oh God, I’ve by no means executed that earlier than” or “That felt good, and why didn’t I consider that final yr?” That’s what I used to be really actually enthusiastic about being within the rehearsal room [this time]. We obtained a number of weeks earlier than we went into tech after we got here to New York and simply had that fixed sort of discovery of going “Oh, wow, , why didn’t we consider this final yr?” and it’s simply since you’re having to consider issues much less.
Are you able to speak extra about how the expertise has modified you?
I feel lots of it’s deeply private, that I don’t essentially really feel the necessity to discuss, however I really feel like a girl. I really feel like I’ve stepped into my womanhood. I really feel like I’ve a lot extra belief inside myself and who I’m. I noticed that I used to be fairly fearful final yr of lots of issues, particularly in my means to do that. And I feel that truly, by means of this expertise, I’ve been in a position to rework that into a way of belief, which is a very nice feeling. That’s to not say I don’t have my moments, however I simply really feel like I’ve a clearer sense of who I’m.
With such a heavy material, can you go away the position on the theater or do you carry it with you?
I perform a little settle down on stage afterwards and sort of consciously let go of it. Simply the sensible motion of stretching your physique and attempting to let go of something that you just’re holding on to is basically useful. My mornings are a bit gradual. Typically I get up and I really feel like I used to be sort of hit by a practice. It’s usually okay. You simply should just remember to deal with your self as a result of I feel it’s in these moments while you slip up with these issues you could really feel it a little bit bit extra. However something I can sort of assist myself, a voice settle down, physique settle down. I come dwelling, and I’m sticking my head within the fridge for about an hour-and-a-half [laughs]. That sounds bizarre. I imply, simply extra that I snack nonstop.
That is smart. You’re on stage for therefore lengthy, and also you’re additionally working round and leaping on tables.
Yeah, you’ve obtained to refuel.
This interview was edited for size and readability.