“My heart will continue to be broken,” the Broadway legend said in conversation with Hillary Clinton during a live podcast taping of “You and Me Both”
In a first-ever live installment of Hillary Clinton’s iHeartPodcast, “You and Me Both,” the three-time Tony Award winner sat down with the former Secretary of State, 76, to discuss their thoughts about New York theater in early November.
While onstage at a packed Symphony Space theater, LuPone didn’t keep her thoughts about Broadway hidden. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Broadway because I don’t know what Broadway is anymore,” she said. “That doesn’t mean I won’t be on the stage in New York, but I’ll be downtown.”
“I don’t think Broadway is sustainable anymore,” the actress added. “I don’t know where Broadway is. I think it’s the circus, Las Vegas and Disneyland. You cannot sustain something, so it breaks your heart. And my heart will continue to be broken.”
This hasn’t been the first time the 74-year-old Broadway legend voiced her discontent with Broadway. In fact, the Evita actress left the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) in late October, explaining to PEOPLE that she’s done with what she calls the “worst union” after five decades as a member.
"They accepted my resignation and told me that if I ever wanted to rejoin, I'd have to be approved," the Company actress explained to PEOPLE.
In addition to her statement posted to X (formerly known as Twitter) where the singer first announced that she was “no longer part of that circus,” LuPone told PEOPLE that AEA doesn’t “support actors at all.” She added, "They're just not good. And I just didn't want to give them any more money."
"I just thought, 'This is ridiculous.' And I don't know when I'm going to be back on stage," she continued. "But then the best kept secret is that you can perform without being a member of Equity. Nobody knows that, so I don't use their services. So, I'm not a member of Equity anymore."
Even though Broadway shows employ only AEA members for the most part, some productions grant guest contracts or even operate under “non-equity” contracts for certain regional and touring productions. LuPone’s decision to drop out of the AEA does not prohibit her from performing in concert productions and cabarets.
For those reasons and more, LuPone explained how she was leaning more into film and television. "I don't think I will be doing eight shows a week ever again. Not that I can't, because that's what I'm built for. I don't want to," she said.
She has since packed her slate with film and TV projects, including Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil, a return to American Horror Story and Marvel's upcoming Agatha: Darkhold Diaries series — a WandaVision spinoff slated to debut on Disney+ next year.
During the podcast, the Broadway icon also touched on what it was like to house her Darkhold Diaries co-star, Aubrey Plaza, in her New York City apartment for a month. While the Parks and Recreation alum prepared for her theatrical debut in the Off-Broadway revival of John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, LuPone said she “felt responsibility for taking care of her.”
“I have in fact taken care of her,” LuPone told Clinton. “I have in fact done her laundry. I made her soup. I miss her — she’s got her own apartment now.”
During the podcast taping, the Beau is Afraid actress returned back to the subject of her career, telling the story of her Juilliard audition that landed her a spot as a founding member of its Drama Division. The one benefit of her class being the “guinea pigs” of the entire school was that they were “inundated with technique” — a skill which allows her to “fail” because she knows she “can figure something out.”
“I have a tremendous problem with the younger performers today that say, ‘I can’t’ or ‘it’s too hard,’” LuPone said. “You have to love it and you have to want to be challenged in anything.”
The technique she learned would come in handy for her legendary role as Eva Perón in Evita, which the performer described as her “biggest test.” In particular, the singing proved the most challenging, which was a “terrible experience” that took “such willpower.”
LuPone said playing the part in Australia — not New York — was where she was able to “figure it out.” She explained, “There was no pressure to prove myself. I wasn't in New York, one of the cruelest environments if you were a performer. I didn't have to deal with critics that were cruel.”
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“David Mamet said this as well. He doesn’t care what the critics say as long as he knows they love the theater,” she added of the American playwright. “I’m not sure our critics have ever loved the theater.”
Because her son, Joshua Luke Johnston, 33, also wants to work in theater and film, LuPone said she’s “worried for him.” She added, “I worry for him in today’s world, period, whether it’s in show business or just walking down the street.”
The Sunset Boulevard actress also reflected on what it was like to share the stage with her son. “It’s so sweet,” she said.
“And I just hope all of you out there that are of that age in your thirties and trying to make it in this business, I wish you all the best of luck and courage, courage, courage,” she continued, speaking directly to the audience. “Something will happen. Something will change. We will make it. Oh, I could cry.”
After she later graced the audience with a live performance of “Make Someone Happy,” Clinton also voiced her thoughts on what she admired most in the theater legend in a concluding Q&A segment moderated by writer and comedian Amber Ruffin.
“It really is that gutsiness, that sense that ‘I’m here whether you like it or not, and I’m not moving off this stage until I show you what I mean,’” the former First Lady said. “As somebody who has seen her on the stage, somebody who admires her outspokenness, somebody who also hates cell phones interrupting — for all those reasons, gutsiness.”
The full conversation between LuPone and Clinton is now available to listen to on the “You and Me Both With Hillary Clinton” podcast, which is distributed by iHeartPodcasts.
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