Google “Tony Shalhoub” and the #2 suggested phrase that pops up is “Tony Shalhoub Catching Fire.” That’s the “Hunger Games” sequel filming now in Atlanta, where Shalhoub’s sister and nephew are actors.
“I have been congratulated many times on landing that role,” Shalhoub said, referring to industry reports that he had been cast in the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland.
Alas, the chatter was just chatter.
“I don’t know where that report came from. A rumor gets planted and it just spreads,” Shalhoub said. “I never talked to anyone. I never met with anyone.”
Asked time and again about the supposed casting, Shalhoub was never tempted to portray it as more than unfounded talk.
“I could have said the material wasn’t worthy of me. It would have been a complete lie,” he said with a chuckle. “I would have loved to have had the opportunity.”
But he’s had other opportunities. While his sister, Susan Shalhoub Larkin, prepares for this week’s launch of “Two Drink Minimum” in Atlanta, Shalhoub is gearing up for the revival of Clifford Odets’ 1937 drama, “Golden Boy,” premiering next month in New York. It’s about a violinist, played by Seth Numrich, who decides to support his career by earning money as a boxer. Shalhoub plays the violinist-boxer’s father.
“I read this piece again when it was offered to me and I was struck at how it holds up so beautifully,” Shalhoub said of the Depression-era play.”I think it’s more about the American experience and that constant struggle that exists in this country in so many circles between art and commerce. It doesn’t have to do with art literally, but people doing what they love to do, balance that with making enough to live on. Letting greed get the best of them. Choosing to make money their priority.”
Known for his long-running role as the title character of the USA drama-comedy “Monk,” Shalhoub’s long list of big-screen credits include roles in “Men In Black,” “Big Night” and “Barton Fink.”
“I’m always looking to achieve some kind of balance in my life,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to really consistently do film work, television work and stage work.”
The enduring popularity of “Monk” helped him decide to accept the role in “Golden Boy.”
“I’ll bump into people and they think it’s still on the air. I think the show is endlessly in reruns,” he said. “I think it’s part of the reason I want to get back on stage.”
Tickets for “Golden Boy” are now on sale; previews begin Nov. 18.
Here in Atlanta, Larkin is preparing for the launch of Theatrical Outfit’s “Two Drink Minimum” this week at The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie Street downtown. Preview performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with an opening night performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The show runs through Nov. 18 (coincidentally, the date her brother’s play opens in New York). See this web site for show times and other details and to buy tickets.
“Two Drink Minimum,” written by William Balzer, tells the story of his complicated relationship with his late mother, played by Larkin. The title stems from the weekly fortification needed before Balzer could embark on another telephone call with his mom. Two drinks, minimum, helped him get through it.
“There wasn’t a lot of warmth to her,” Larkin said. She wasn’t very maternal from what I can see. She had her good points but the parts that Bill remembers were the sharpness of her tongue. A lot of it is very funny. She’s the one who told Bill never to invest in stocks because there was going to be another Depression.”
She’s excited to be working on a new work of theater.
“This is a brand-new script,” she said. “There’s no precedent. We get to set this world based on what Bill Balzer has created.”
Incidentally, her famous brother credits Larkin with getting him into acting but she demurs, “I don’t think Tony needs my help!”
Her son, Tony Larkin, also works as an actor in Atlanta. Both he and his mother filmed bit roles during “Monk’s” run on USA.
Shalhoub would love to see the family reunite on stage or screen. ”I would love to have the chance for all of us to do something together,” he said.