Theater fans may have to wait until June for the Tony Awards, but they’ll be able to catch some of their favorite Broadway faces on television this Sunday at the Oscars. It’s often said that stage work is one of the more challenging arts, so it’s no surprise that many of the best in film have had experience on Broadway. As the Academy celebrates its cinematic achievements, let’s take a look back at the theatrical backgrounds of the 2020 Oscar nominees.
The leading ladies of the year have strong ties to the theatre community, with four out of five Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role nominees having some theatrical experience under their belts. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) won a Tony Award in 2016 for her breakout performance in The Color Purple, and Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) led the Broadway production of The Crucible that same year. Scarlett Johansson, a two-time nominee this year (for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit), is also a two-time Broadway actress, who has appeared in productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A View From the Bridge, for which she earned a Tony Award. Although Renée Zellweger, nominated for her role as Judy Garland, has yet to make her Broadway debut, she has musical experience bringing Roxie Hart to the big screen in the 2002 film adaptation of Chicago.
The men also boast impressive Broadway résumés, with more than half of the nominees in the acting categories having spent time on stage. In the leading role category, there are two past Tony winners of Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical: Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), for his 2003 portrayal of Guido Contini in Nine, and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), for originating the role of The Engineer in 1991’s Miss Saigon. Fellow nominee Adam Driver’s theater repertoire extends beyond his rendition of “Being Alive” in Marriage Story: He has appeared in several Broadway plays over the years, and was Tony-nominated for his performance in 2019’s Burn This.
In the supporting male actor category, you’ll see two-time Tony winner Al Pacino (The Irishman), and Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), who appeared in 1974’s Equus and hosted the 1994 Tony Awards. Even Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) has taken his turn on the stage, making his Broadway debut in 2013 with Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy.
Performers aren’t the only nominees with Broadway bragging rights. Nominated for Achievement in Directing is Sam Mendes (1917), who has a Tony Award for his direction of 2014’s The Ferryman. He also notably directed the productions of Cabaret that came to Broadway in 1998 and 2014, 2003’s Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters, and the upcoming play The Lehman Trilogy, which opens in March.
Overlap in the Broadway community and the Oscars’ original song category is also inevitable, with Frozen writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez nominated for Frozen 2’s hit “Into the Unknown.” Fans can tune in for a live performance of the song by Broadway star Idina Menzel, as well as Erivo singing “Stand Up” from Harriet.
The 2020 Academy Awards will air live Sunday, February 9, at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.
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