After winning the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London’s West End, Back to the Future: The Musicaltraveled to Broadway. But only two of its original cast members made the leap across the pond: Tony Award winner Roger Bart, and Broadway newbie Hugh Coles, who received an Olivier Award nomination for his performance as George McFly, the role notably played onscreen by Crispin Glover.
Fresh off opening at the Winter Garden Theatre on August 3, Coles took some time to answer 5 Questions with Broadway Direct, sharing how a Jim Carrey impression led him to be an actor, what audiences can look forward to in Back to the Future, and his favorite place to grab a bite before the show.
1. What inspired you to become an actor?
I remember watching Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty, just again and again and again. I would watch his outtakes and break it down and be like “OK. Why is that funny? What is he doing that makes that funny?” I’d try it out in my bathroom mirror, and then take it to the stage in our school theater shows. I’m sure the teachers wondered why a British Jim Carrey was appearing in our youth production of Oliver! But that’s where it all started.
2. Who in your field inspires you?
Philip Seymour Hoffman is and will always be my favorite actor. His ability to transform himself and disappear into roles is a constant source of inspiration. I scour the internet for clips of him in The Seagull, or True West, or Death of a Salesman. I listen and relisten to interviews he gave. Stage or screen, he was equally exceptional. Not a lot of people can do that. A master. A profound loss.
3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in Back to the Future?
If you watched Back to the Future when it was released in the ’80s and you have kids now who you want to share it with, or you want to introduce them to Broadway, you can experience it all again for the very first time. And getting to know these characters even better and seeing things you never thought possible in a theatre. Cough, time-traveling DeLorean…
4. If you didn’t need to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing?
I’m absolutely nuts about vintage clothes. So if I’m not sleeping, I’ll be in the East Village or Brooklyn shopping vintage. And considering the “artist” hours the shops operate, they’ll probably be open too! Check out 10ft Single by Stella Dallas on North 6th Street in Brooklyn.
5. What is your favorite NYC spot?
If we aren’t talking vintage clothes… There’s an excellent poké place in Midtown just opposite the Winter Garden stage door. Yum Yubu [inside the Urban Hawker market on West 50th Street and 7th Avenue].
You can catch Hugh Coles as George McFly in Back to the Future: The Musical, now playing at the Winter Garden Theatre.
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