The apparent queen of all media, Kristin Chenoweth, is a Tony– and Emmy–winner and Academy Awards performer/interviewer. And now she deserves a gold medal for getting strapped to a chair in Family Weekend, a movie comedy about a ticked-off teen who abducts her parents to get more quality time with them. At the Crosby Street Hotel, I unbound Kristin to get the lowdown on someone who’s equally adept at doing cute and Wicked.
Hi, Kristin. You were very appealing doing the Oscars red carpet. Thank you. At first, I said, “No, that’s not my job.” But the producer said, “Think of it like talking to friends.” I requested a few people I really wanted: Sally Field, Jennifer Lawrence, Adele . . .
You two looked hilarious together. She dwarfed you! People posted it online, and I felt so bad. By the way, she’s gorgeous. But she’s so tall!
Could this be a new career direction for you? I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m an artist and I still want to be singing and acting and doing my thing. But I have a newfound respect for people who do that job.
Thanks! How about the seemingly impromptu finale you sang with Seth MacFarlane about the losers? Scary? I was nervous. I practiced her name 50 times—’Quvenzhané, Quvenzhané . . .’ It’s tough to be in the beginning part and then at the very end because my nerves could never get relaxed. But it was fun. Seth did a good job, and I enjoyed his controversy, and the ratings were up.
And you’re in movies, too, like Family Weekend. But could your nerves ever relax when you were all tied up? I never want to be bound and gagged again. I know some people are into that . . .
My readers. Exactly! [laughs] But not me. I’d basically get waxed every day. You can’t take the tape off slowly. I have no hair on my face now.
I noticed. Is your character a complete narcissist? She’s driven, she’s type A, and a perfectionist—and I’m all of those things—but there’s lots of pressure on her to be a good mother and bring home the bacon, and she’s lost her priorities. Women can have everything and do both, so hopefully my character will learn that.
The hard way. The hairless way! Not to apply more pressure, but are you doing the revival of the screwball musical On The Twentieth Century that’s been buzzed about? Yes! We’re literally hammering out the dates right now.
With Hugh Jackman? I don’t know. I’d love that, but . . . when we did a reading a couple of years ago, he looked at me and said, “You must do this show. I love it and I love the role, but it’s your part.”
Speaking of co-stars, I worshipped the letter you wrote to Newsweek in 2010 when a writer said your Promises, Promises partner Sean Hayes couldn’t be convincing as an out gay playing straight. Thank you. I spent two hours writing that on a Wednesday matinee day. I was steaming mad before the show and thought, “Got to get this out of my head and do Promises.” Poor Ramen [Setoodeh, the Newsweek author]. I hope he knows it’s nothing personal, but I felt what he wrote was personal.
Another co-star of yours, Marc Kudisch—who played the snake to your Eve in The Apple Tree—happens to be your ex. That’s personal. We love each other and always will. We just didn’t get married. I recommended him!
Hear that, newsweek.com? A non-snake can play a snake. Oh, congrats on your PBS tribute to The Dames of Broadway. Who are your faves? Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy . . . Julie Andrews. Julie’s performance in The Sound of Music was probably the reason I became a singer. I’ve been offered Maria in several productions (including a Carnegie Hall event) and turned it down. I’ll never touch that. I’ll leave it to Julie.
Please! The Sound of Music turned me gay! Me too. [laughs]
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I couldn’t shut my von Trapp at the Edison Ballroom opening night party for the Broadway version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where I ate a few dozen of my favorite things. In between all that, I barreled up to Hobbit-forming thesp Sir Ian McKellen—who’s an officiant on the side—and said, “When I read that you’re marrying Patrick Stewart, I thought that meant you were marrying each other.” “No, you didn’t,” he replied, impishly. Oh, well, good try. McKellen quickly switched gears and started raving about the way the cast had taken Capote’s “arch, artificial dialogue that was never meant to be spoken” and somehow made it magical. I didn’t tell him the reviews were pouring in, saying this breakfast should be sent back to the kitchen. “I’ve never seen the movie,” Sir Ian admitted. “Really? Then maybe you’re not really gay,” I offered, once again aiming for Capote-caliber wit. “Who wrote the screenplay?” he wondered. “George Axelrod,” I obliged. “And Blake Edwards directed.” “I once did an audition for Blake Edwards,” Sir Ian volunteered. “Afterwards, I said, ‘Do you think they’d even employ me if they knew I was gay?’ I was told, ‘What’s the problem? He’s gay—and so’s his wife.’ That’s Hollywood.” The hills are alive . . .