(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/15.)
Brian Dennehy is tired. Robert Falls’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, first seen in Chicago at 2012, has bellied up to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for another run. So most nights of the week, Dennehy puts on a stained shirt and brown braces, knocking back rotgut in Harry Hope’s saloon for nearly five hours.
It’s his second shot at Iceman, having already starred as the traveling salesman Hickey in a revival at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, also directed by Falls. This time, Nathan Lane plays Hickey, while Dennehy appears as Larry Slade, the bar’s resident “foolosopher”, a former anarchist who has given up on the movement. On life, too. “What’s before me is the comforting fact that death is a fine, long sleep, and I’m damned tired, and it can’t come too soon for me,” he says.
Dennehy, 76, isn’t so nihilistic, though he did say he was hoping to go back to sleep as soon as the interview concluded. He spoke by phone from the bed of his Brooklyn rental apartment and the connection was initially very bad. “The phone that I have now, reluctantly,” he said, “can do anything including walk the dog, but it can’t be used while you’re reclining in bed, which I find very difficult.” Once he’d found a feasible angle, he spoke of his passion for O’Neill’s work and his impressive tolerance for alcohol.