Of the Barry role, which he originally wrote for himself, Bogosian says, “He’ll become his character. In Barry mode, you’re kind of obnoxious to everyone you know.” When Schreiber came in the first day of rehearsal, visibly agitated after coming off a red-eye, Bogosian thought, My God, I’m looking at myself from twenty years ago.
But Schreiber doesn’t need mentors anymore; if anything, it’s his renown that will give Bogosian—and his first play on Broadway—a boost. What it does for Schreiber isn’t as clear. Maybe it reminds him of himself twenty years ago. “It’s funny,” Schreiber says, “because I do feel like I’m in a place in my life where I’m trying to move on from that reactive, inexplicable drive, like you’ve gotta be working all the time.” His Noho apartment (a few converted-loft blocks from his childhood squat on First and First) is a beautiful, spare triplex. “I quit complaining about gentrification as soon as I got a nice loft,” he says. The tabloids regularly spread rumors of his engagement to actress Naomi Watts. He cooks a lot. He’s seeing Watts’s nutritionist. He even plans to quit smoking—after this play, of course. “I’m starting to kind of wonder about slower tempos. And then this play comes up—which is, you know, it’s great!”
Though Schreiber is working on a script of his own (about Iraq; he won’t say more), he’s still too restless to wait for Hollywood: “Development is stasis. I can’t stand stasis.” He believes time has given him distance on characters as raw as Barry Champlain—but he’s also figured out that overcaffeinated nights full of profane tirades are a handy escape from more mundane frustrations. “Part of what I enjoyed about Ricky [Roma] was being able to draw on that kind of rage. There’s something cathartic about it. It’s like going for a shvitz. It really helps. Mind if I smoke?”