Stranger In Town

Matthew Broderick in New York.

Matthew Broderick comes across as modest in a way that’s startling for an actor who recently headlined The Producers. In his first theater role since he left the show, he’ll return to his roots: the Off Broadway scene where he first found success with Torch Song Trilogy.

What enticed you to go back Off Broadway after doing something as big as The Producers?
I always liked The Foreigner—I saw it in my early twenties when it first came out. So it came along, and I wasn’t at all, like, immediately, I should do that. But then I started to think, you know, I really do love the play, and I have this time, and it’s kind of too much time off, so I thought it would be nice to work. Everybody seemed to be going to work in the fall except me.

Tell me about the character you’re playing—Charlie Baker, a British proofreader at a science-fiction magazine.
His wife has lost interest in him and is also presumably dying, and his friend takes him off for a vacation to sort of revive his spirits. He’s very introverted and doesn’t want to talk to anybody, and they all, for various reasons, think he’s from another country. So he basically makes up a language. He speaks in some strange tongue and gradually “learns” English from them.

Did doing The Producers change how you think about your career?
I’m aware that everything I do is in a way disappointing from now on—to both me and the audience. [Laughs.] I don’t mean that literally, but I just know it won’t be like The Producers. That’s pretty rare. But I think it’s good to get that over with, you know? Hopefully, I’m going to have a career for a lot more time, so I have to get out on the ledge again. And you know, I have the movie The Producers, too, so it’s not like that job is even done.

Your wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, is larger than life in those Gap and TBS ads all over town now. Is that strange for you?
It’s an adjustment. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never been around this kind of success.

The Foreigner, Laura Pels Theatre; previews October 15, opens November 7.

Stranger In Town