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The Coast of Incarceration

Nearly arrested in Russia.

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The cast of The Coast of Utopia learned a lesson about drinking and photographing while in Russia. A week before rehearsals began for Tom Stoppard’s epic play, co-stars Brían O’Byrne, Martha Plimpton, Jason Butler Harner, and Josh Hamilton went to St. Petersburg for “research.” Their last night there, at about 3:30 a.m., Harner was taking drunken pictures on the street when “all of a sudden,” says Hamilton, “these cops ran up to Jason and started to drag him to a police car.” Apparently, he’d taken a forbidden picture of them. “I sort of held a $20 bill in my hand and kept saying, ‘Oh, is there a problem? Surely we can work this out.’ ” They couldn’t. Several young Russians who’d been standing nearby jumped in to negotiate. “We just stood there,” says Hamilton. “They’d argue heatedly with the cops and then they’d all take a cigarette break and have a laugh together.” Harner—the only one in custody—was let go at 5:30 a.m., an hour before they were supposed to fly back home. “As the sun started to come up,” Hamilton says, “we were thinking, ‘You know, I’m sure Jason’s understudy is really good.’ ”

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