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Ciaran Hinds in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' Photo by: Joan Marcus

Interview with Irish actor Ciaran Hinds - star of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Scarlett Johansson

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Ciaran Hinds in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' Photo by: Joan Marcus

The trick with this play is to keep an eye on the real, he says. 

“If you’re venturing into territory that is slightly operatic it all has to be done so carefully,” he says. 

Another conspicuous aspect of this production is the strength of the women characters, who clearly surpass the men.

“The women in this play are driving the car, except they’re driving it from the passenger’s seat,” Hinds says. 

“They’re having to keep the car on the road and the man is supposed to lead, but they’re having to lean over and correct him.”

The theatrics on stage can be a little draining when they reach such a fever pitch night after night. 

“As soon as that second act is finished I feel a profound relief,” Hinds says. “You have to come right on, on the front foot, throughout the second act. 

“Sometimes I have to ask myself, ‘Can my aging old bones stand up to this?’ I mean, just the amount of verbiage and the amount of commitment!”

Onstage, Hinds’s scenes with Walker, 30, the actor who plays his son (and who is engaged to Meryl Streep’s daughter, actress Mamie Gummer) are electrifying, providing the emotional center of the play. Irish audiences will be particularly surprised to see how strong Walker resembles Hinds’s closest friend Liam Neeson.

“You wouldn’t be the fourth, fifth or eighth person to say that!” Hinds laughs.

“My English agent came to see me in my dressing room yesterday and he said, ‘God, Ben Walker is very like Liam Neeson.’ I replied, ‘Yeah, well I wasn’t going to have f***ing Liam as my son, was I?’  But I noticed the resemblance myself and mentioned it to my daughter.”

Hinds and his family spend every Christmas with the Neesons. When Hinds’ daughter Aoife saw Walker she blurted, “He looks like young Liam.” 

Hinds discreetly told her not to mention it to Neeson as it might make him feel old.

“Then, after all this, I asked Liam if he knew Ben Walker. Before I said anything more he said, ‘He played the young me in the film Kinsey.’ That sort of seals the deal on that way.”

Hinds knows a lot of the people will be coming to the theater see Scarlett Johansson. 

“She’s so good and so on the money in her role,” he says, supportively. “She’s plays a real breathing hurt southern lady.” 

But clued in audiences will also come to see an iconic play by Williams and what Hinds makes of it. 

“We’ve been hearing back from people who came to see a play they thought they knew, but the evening was full of revelations they didn’t anticipate as they watched it,” he says.

“That’s what Rob was aiming for. He knew Williams’s work inside out. He let us follow our instincts.”

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