Vanessa Hudgens, Keira Knightley and More Celebs Who Starred on Broadway Last Year
On Tuesday, the 2016 Tony Award nominations were announced, celebrating the best of Broadway over the last year. Hamilton led the pack with 16 noms, but not every nominee was a Broadway veteran through and through: From Lupita Nyong’o to Michelle Williams, Jessica Lange, and Steve Martin, some of Hollywood’s biggest names scored a place on the list.
In honor of the nominations, we’re taking a look back at 14 major celebrities who starred on Broadway last year. From Jake Gyllenhaal to Vanessa Hudgens, you probably didn’t know these accomplished actors took a turn on the theater stage.
Keira Knightley in Therese Raquin
The Oscar-nominated star made her Broadway debut in this dark period drama about lust and betrayal in October. In it, she played a woman who was married to her cousin but fell for her cousin’s friend, and together they schemed to get rid of him. Yes, very dark stuff indeed.
Jennifer Hudson in The Color Purple
It’s about time Jennifer Hudson brought her powerful voice to Broadway, and alas, she is doing so with the musical based on Alice Walker’s award-winning novel, The Color Purple, which started previews in November. She plays Shug Avery in the revival, a blues singer who helps the main character Celie, played by Cynthia Erivo, through her troubles.
Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple
The Orange Is the New Black star and Juilliard alum will also make her debut in this revival as Sofia, the strong woman who symbolizes going against the odds.
Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed
The 12 Years a Slave and Star Wars actress starred in this off-Broadway production, written by The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira, about women held by a Liberian rebel. In October, it was announced that Eclipsed is moving to Broadway—a truly fantastic accomplishment—and will open in February 2016.
Carey Mulligan in Skylight
The actress starred in the revival of this play about relationships in 2014, and then continued with the production when it went to Broadway in March. Her role as Kyra Hollis earned her critical acclaim, and she received a 2015 Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (she lost to Helen Mirren).
Helen Mirren in The Audience
The legendary British actress reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth II, a role she originated in the West End production, for Broadway in February. Her enactment of the royal earned rave review from critics and she went on to win the 2015 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play.
Sienna Miller in Cabaret
In March, Miller followed Michelle Williams and Emma Stone in taking on the storied role of singer Sally Bowles in this revival, which featured the original emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, Alan Cumming.
Vanessa Hudgens in Gigi
The Disney alum took on the rag-to-riches titular role of Gigi in this revival for her Broadway debut in April. “I feel like the spirit of Gigi has the same spirit as Vanessa,” she told us of the role earlier this year. “A youthfulness and a feeling of being unafraid to be who you are.”
Elisabeth Moss in The Heidi Chronicles
In March, the Mad Men alum returned to Broadway to star as the title role in Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play, the story of one woman’s witty struggle to figure out what it means to be a woman, spanning three decades of her life. Of the role, she told us: “There’s so much of me in her that it’s very hard for me to say what is her and what’s me at this point.”
Jake Gyllenhaal in Constellations
The talented-in-any-venue Gyllenhaal hit the stage in January to play a beekeeper alongside The Affair’s Ruth Wilson in this sophisticated play about love and all its iterations. His performance earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Drama League Awards.
Ruth Wilson in Constellations
Wilson co-starred along Gyllenhaal in the play. Her portrayal of a Cambridge University academic earned her a nomination for Best Performance in an Actress in a Play at the 2015 Tony Awards.
Larry David in Fish in the Dark
The hysterical co-creator of Seinfeld and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm brought his signature laugh-at-the-little-things-in-life approach to comedy to his first Broadway production, which started previews in February. The show, inspired by an incident in David’s life, told the story of a family whose patriarch had fallen ill and all the craziness that happened in the hospital as he was ailing.
Bruce Willis in Misery
Willis made his Broadway debut alongside Laurie Metcalf in this thriller of a play, an adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel about a writer (Willis) who is held captive by a nutty fan (Metcalf).
Everyone in Chicago: Jennifer Nettles; Rumer Willis; Nene Leakes
If you want to see a star on Broadway, you’re best bet is to go to Chicago. The musical about six merry murderesses usually has a star playing one of the parts: Jennifer Nettles took on the role of Roxie Hart in February, while Rumer Willis made her Broadway debut portraying the same character in September. Then in November, reality star Nene Leakes announced she would return to the production to reprise her role as Matron “Mama” Morton. Now that’s some razzle dazzle, don’t you think?