Most actors study theatre and, more often than not, their first roles are on stage. Whether they are in community theatre productions, school plays, or they’re lucky enough to land paid gigs from childhood, they often need to sharpen their skills in front of audiences before making the leap to the screen.
This year’s Emmy Award winners come from a variety of background and have vastly different careers, but most of them have considerable stage acting experience. Take a look at their theatrical pasts and join me in hoping they make their way to Broadway so we can catch some of their expert performances live.
- Jeff Daniels – Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for “The Newsroom”
This guy is a seasoned stage actor, having appeared several times on and off-Broadway. Most notably, he appeared in Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July and Redwood Curtain, A.R. Gurney’s The Golden Age, and Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage. He also founded The Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Michigan and has written more than a dozen plays for it.
- Claire Danes – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for “Homeland”
Claire Danes got her start in New York theatre more than a decade before becoming “Homeland”‘s Carrie Mathison. She has appeared off-Broadway in The Vagina Monologues, on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Pygmalion, and as an acclaimed dancer at Performance Space 122.
- Jim Parsons – Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”
Since the mid-1990s, Parsons has been active in professional theatre, working at the now-dissolved Infernal Bridegroom Productions in Houston, San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, and The La Jolla Playhouse. Even after achieving HUGE success as Sheldon Cooper on TBBT, he has still pursued stage opportunities, appearing on Broadway in The Normal Heart in 2011 and Harvey in 2012.
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series for “Veep”
This four-time Emmy winner trained with the best at The Second City, the famous Chicago improvisational theatre group that has also churned out such greats as Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Fred Willard, Shelley Long, Stephen Colbert, Shelley Long, and Bill Murray, to name a few (the full list is crazy).
- Michael Douglas – Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie for “Behind the Candelabra”
A screen legend, Michael Douglas has acted primarily in film and television. But as almost all actors do, he studied theatre, including at UC Santa Barbara (B.A., Drama, 1968) and The American Place Theatre in New York City. He also won a Theatre World Award in 1971 for George Tabori’s Pinkville.
- Laura Linney – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for “The Big C: Hereafter”
Linney is no stranger to Broadway, having earned Tony Award nominations for the 2002 revival of The Crucible, the 2004 production of Sight Unseen, and the 2010 production of Time Stands Still.
- Bobby Cannavale – Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for “Boardwalk Empire”
Now a fixture of New York theatre, Cannavale has appeared in 4 Broadway plays in just six years: Mauritius (Tony nomination), The Motherfucker with the Hat (Tony nomination and Drama Desk Award), Glengarry Glen Ross, and The Big Knife. He also signed on to play Nicky Arnstein in the 2012 revival of Funny Girl, but the production was postponed indefinitely.
- Anna Gunn – Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series for “Breaking Bad”
Focusing on television and film seems to have worked for her, but she did give eight shows a week as “Lucile” in 1996-7’s The Rehearsal on Broadway.
- Tony Hale – Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for “Veep”
Hale’s degrees are actually in journalism and communications, so he proves that you don’t necessarily need an acting degree to make it big. He did study acting with off-Broadway’s The Barrow Group, though (as did Anne Hathaway and Vera Farmiga).
- Merritt Wever – Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series for “Nurse Jackie”
In 2003, years before delivering one of the best (and shortest) Emmy acceptance speeches ever, Wever starred off-Broadway in Brooke Berman’s Smashing and Kate Moira Ryan’s stage adaptation of Dorothy Allison’s novel Cavedweller.
- James Cromwell – Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie for “American Horror Story: Asylum”
Raised by actor parents, Cromwell was immersed in theatre from an early age and began performing everything from avant-garde plays to Shakespeare. In 2007, he starred in Long Day’s Journey Into Night with Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company, and in 2012, he appeared in Waiting for Godot with Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group.
- Ellen Burstyn – Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for “Political Animals”
In a diverse and acclaimed career in film, television, and theatre spanning several decades, Ellen Burstyn has been seen in several Broadway plays, including her Tony-winning turn in 1975’s Same Time, Next Year and the 2013 revival of William Inge’s Picnic.