Russ and Daughters Press
April 1, 2009
Taylor Antrim interviews Piper Perabo about her long-awaited Broadway debut. "With breezy sophistication, she offers critical assessments of the latest New York museum shows, the pace of gentrification on the Lower East Side, and where to get the best pickled herring in the city (Russ & Daughters)."
An excerpt, from style.com:
Pay no attention to Piper Perabo's looks. She is, of course, lovely. But to fix on her beauty is to miss the point. Such is the message of Neil LaBute's two-act provocation, Reasons to Be Pretty, which, after an acclaimed Off Broadway run last summer, recently made a splash on Broadway. In a cast of four, Perabo plays Carly, the "pretty" girl, whose husband dismantles her self-confidence by running around on her.
For Perabo, 32 and a former college theater major, this war-of-the-sexes drama was a long-delayed debut. "I moved here because I thought I was going to be a stage actor," she says. Landing the lead in 2000's Coyote Ugly changed her focus to film. But after appearing in interesting if overlooked indies, plus a critical misfire or two (The Cave?), she returned to plan A.
Perabo welcomes the challenge. After all, she is a woman of substance, the sort who assesses the contents of your bookshelves when she is invited over. ("It's one of those inappropriate things, like pinging glass to see if it's crystal.") She can't help herself; growing up the daughter of an English professor in a New Jersey shore town, Perabo was a precocious reader, plucking Lolita off the shelf at thirteen. "It felt like contraband," she says.
Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley: These are Perabo's favorite artists, plus a little Belle and Sebastian—all, mind you, on vinyl. "Side 1 of Kind of Blue? That's a thing, you know? That's a concept." She recently threw herself a birthday party in her East Village apartment with an LP-only sound track. "If you've had it with Bitches Brew, someone has to get up and turn it off."
Alongside her records and wall-to-wall books, Perabo's apartment displays her early forays into art collecting (Basquiat, Graciela Iturbide, Ryan McGinley). With breezy sophistication, she offers critical assessments of the latest New York museum shows, the pace of gentrification on the Lower East Side, and where to get the best pickled herring in the city (Russ & Daughters).
And now, with a turn on Broadway, Perabo has completed her Manhattan-actor bona fides. "The part calls for a kind of beauty, and Piper can glam it up like any starlet should be able to do," LaBute says. "But she's also a good, old-fashioned actor who likes to get into the theater and do her work. She is heartbreaking in that role."
LaBute was most impressed by the monologue in which Perabo's character delivers the play's central theme: that physical attraction is shaky ground on which to build a relationship. And yet, Perabo isn't ready to dismiss such matters out of hand. "In describing someone I was dating, I certainly wouldn't lead with qualifying their looks," she says. But? She smiles her radiant, lightly mischievous smile. "I do like a good-looking man."
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