In separate interviews — Mr. Broderick in London before a rehearsal in early May, and Mr. Lonergan in New York on the day of the play’s first preview two weeks later — the men discussed their friendship, their collaboration and the play’s bumpy beginnings.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversations.
Matthew, this is Kenny’s third play on the West End but it’s your debut. Does it feel like a milestone?
BRODERICK I mean, I’m superstitious and I don’t want to, you know …
BRODERICK Knock wood, exactly. [Looks around] There’s no wood. [Walks to a wooden table and knocks] When you’re a kid, there’s something very romantic about London. I’m embarrassed to say it, but it is sort of a dream to come here and do a play.
BRODERICK Well, it sounds hokey. And it also just sets you up for, “Be careful for what you dream for, you [expletive].” And wham, I’ll be smashed down to whack-a-mole. [Laughs] Don’t print any of that.
Kenny, did you have Matthew in mind as Mark from the beginning?
LONERGAN No. I started writing notes for it, or making attempts at scenes in it, when I was pretty early in my mid-20s. And the character could be anywhere from his early 40s to his early 50s — no older and no younger — so there’s no question of writing it for Matthew. But I believe that I thought at the time, “It’s too bad he’s not the right age because it’s a really good part for him.” He happens to understand what’s so beautiful about astronomy itself.
What is that beauty?
LONERGAN All you’ve got to do is go outside at night when you’re in the country and look up.
Why the play’s long gestation?
LONERGAN When I first wrote the play, I was a young man, not a 40-year-old man, and I really didn’t know what it was like to be in a relationship for 10 years, or to have the same job for 10 years.