BH Interview: Theater Actor Answers Spielberg's Call for 'Lincoln'

John Hutton has a steady gig as a respected member of the Denver Center Theatre Company, where he gets the instant gratification the stage provides.

Hutton got a taste of the pokey pace of a Hollywood blockbuster when director Steven Spielberg came a calling on behalf of the new film "Lincoln." It just took nearly a decade for Hutton to answer the Oscar-winning director's call.

Hutton plays Sen. Charles Sumner in “Lincoln,” a small role that still required patience to pull off. A Hollywood casting director touched base with Hutton's Denver-based company nine years ago seeking a taped sample of the actor's work. The query never mentioned the project in question. The actor obliged with a Shakespeare monologue, but he didn't hear back until two years ago when the calls starting coming again, but this time from a New York-based casting director.

The latest outreach featured information about the film and the director behind it. The movie was "Lincoln, Spielberg's long-delayed biopic of the nation's 16th president.

“I don't know what the process was ... maybe Spielberg looked at the old tapes again and threw me a bone,” Hutton tells Big Hollywood.

Hutton isn't isn't ready to ditch Denver for Hollywood just yet, but he enjoyed watching Spielberg in action all the same.

“He's so well prepared,” he says. “He can be in the middle of the day on schedule and decide to stray from it ... nobody gives him grief about it. Within the machinery of the film and his process, he takes the room to improvise. If he sees something in the moment, he'll film it.”

Hutton admits the Hollywood work schedule took him by surprise.

“They'd call me at 5 o'clock and I'd show up ready to go,” he says with a laugh. “I wouldn't even be called to the set until 1 o'clock, and I'm exhausted.”

Hutton's day job offers more immediate rewards and saner hours. His latest play, “When We Are Married,” casts the actor as one of three British men who discover their 25-year-old marriage isn't legal. Playwright J.B. Priestley's comedic tale, written in the 1930s, asks what would happen if three long-term couples were suddenly free from the chains of matrimony.

When We Are Married

“It's just fascinating that the issues haven't changed at all,” he says of the play's core themes. “It's about self perception, how we bring that into the relationship ... finally they are all honest with each other. They have nothing else to lose."

“When We Are Married,” which is playing now through Dec. 16 at Denver's Stage Theatre, riffs on cultural mores but ends up with a conservative streak.

“The benefits of fidelity outweigh the advantage of infidelity,” he says. “It's not just the time and the culture. You'd run into the same thing today.”


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