NEW YORK – Acting on Broadway is hardly a vacation, but if you're Mia Farrow, it just might be. Her day job these days, after all, is speaking out about genocide and atrocities.
Farrow, 69, has taken a break from international horrors to return to Broadway for the first time in 16 years to perform in A.R. Gurney's play "Love Letters," in which two would-be lovers read aloud letters exchanged over a lifetime.
Farrow, whose screen credits include "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo," says she's been so focused on Syria, Haiti, Gaza, Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo and the Darfur region that she often forgets she's an actress.
She'll star with Brian Dennehy and then a rotating cast will continue the work, including Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen. Gregory Mosher is directing.
The play arrives on Broadway a month after Woody Allen's musical "Bullets Over Broadway" shuttered, as if the Great White Way couldn't host both at the same time. Both she and her ex-partner revisited a bitter chapter earlier this year when her daughter Dylan Farrow renewed molestation allegations against Allen.
Farrow took time to talk to The Associated Press by phone from her Connecticut home to answer questions about her activism, the play and who pushed her into returning to acting.
AP: How were you lured back to Broadway?
Farrow: I think it's an exquisite play. It's unique and I find it very powerful. It only takes a month of my time. The beauty of it is that different people will be reading the letters. In the absence of staging, and costumes and the razzle-dazzle that we sometimes associated with Broadway, this is all about the simplicity and power of these letters.
AP: Do you plan on memorizing the letters?
Farrow: No. In fact, the author specifically says there's no need for memorizing or rehearsal. I mean, I know the content of the letters obviously well and I've read the play many times. It shouldn't be that you have it down pat.
AP: Do you draw on any personal memories to play this part?
Farrow: These are two very specific kinds of people. They're distinct characters. So I didn't feel that I had any experience that replicated the person I'm playing.
AP: Were you at all put off being on Broadway because Allen has been there the past few years?
Farrow: No, not at all. It never crossed my mind. Of course not. No, I'm just excited to be working with Gregory Mosher again and doing a play that I love. That's all.
AP: How do you balance international affairs with acting?
Farrow: Basically, I don't. I'm hardly an actress at all. When I'm reading, it's something about those regions. This is stepping out of it for a month. Like a vacation, if you will.
AP: You've become one of our moral voices. Is that hard to live up to?
Farrow: I've done my best. Other people do a lot better. I think it's when you lay down to die, you can say, "I tried." You can find that on my Twitter handle: "I'm trying." I'll feel OK about my life if I can, in all honesty, feel that I've done that.
AP: What do your kids think of your return to performing?
Farrow: My son Ronan keeps urging me to go back to acting. I totally forget about it. Somebody will stop me at the market about seeing me and I'll go, "Oh my God. That's right. I did do that movie."
AP: Why does he want you to act again?
Farrow: He has a lot of respect for people who can act. He likes the work that I've done. He's looked at it since he's been an adult and he just says, "You should be doing this. This is something you can do." He also thinks this is awfully intense for me — my focus on genocide and mass atrocities and injustices. He thinks it would be really good for me to hang out with fellow actors and lighten up and have a better life.
AP: Is he right?
Farrow: I have a different perspective of that. I'm actually at peace with myself. I'm a very, very happy person. And I have good friendships. And I actually forget that I ever acted.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits