In The Parisian Woman, Josh Lucas plays alongside Uma Thurman to explore love, marriage, and fidelity amidst the complex, often cutthroat backdrop of Washington, D.C. political life. Here, Lucas opens us about his personal politics, how this gig is his latest act of resistance, and how he defines his role in the #metoo movement.
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It’s no secret you’re quite political.
I see this play as an act of political and social comedy/commentary/resistance. That rather than run away to Bali to put my son in the amazing Green School Bali which bills itself as creating the next generation of radical environmental leaders which I want for my son, I felt staying in the belly of the beast with the intensity of “Broadway” was as bold and effective a choice as I could make… that and Uma, who I think is a massive artist of the most searing and searching passions and I wanted to play opposite her.
The play is so timely – to the point where I wondered as an audience member how it was so current. Was Beau (Willimon, the writer) constantly making revisions to reflect real time? Did that change the way you played your character at all?
I often wish it were easier to make even more changes than we do now, but the confines of Broadway and Unions and the ferocious pace of the Trump news cycle make it hard to keep up as much as I think we’d all like to. That said, Beau added new lines for me just tonight about the new tax package and our “stable genius”. Hopefully I play the character slightly different every night but not based on text changes, based on my desire to keep it fresh and to learn and react to the immediacy of what I feel and see each night from Uma and the audience.
The play certainly has Trump as the main target, but manages to poke fun at both Republicans and Democrats alike. How important was it for you to make a play that both sides could appreciate?
I have many Republicans in my distant family and my friends and I want them to feel respected as they watch this play, and I think Beau walks that tightrope very well here…. I don’t in any way feel it’s liberal propaganda. This play is about love and passion at its core, and sex and open marriages… sounds like even Trump might be having his fair share of sex with women other than his wife. I bet if he weren’t the target here, he would love this play.
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Uma broke her silence amidst the #metoo movement in a New York Times Article released this weekend, accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. In the watershed of this movement, how do you define your role?
My mother was a midwife, so from day one I was taught that respect for women was not only mandatory, but essential to being a man. My grandmother was one of the first female pilots on the planet. So again, women were always, in my head, even more extraordinary and “ballsy” than men. I still think that’s true. The idea of having a fucking button to lock a door to “trap” someone in a room is mind numbingly sick and gross to me. That said, sex is a good thing for both men and women much of the time, and I fear this whole movement is hurting that idea and the pendulum has swung so far that even very good men are terrified. And fear is bad, period.
It looks like you’re sticking around for the time being. How do you engage (or not) in the political drama that unfolds every day?
I don’t…. I do this play and love my son as deeply and purely as I can and try to show him joy. The news makes me so sick that I just keep searching for answers to how we can unite. I try and read smart serious coverage from the right wing to balance my thoughts… I’m as lost as anyone here now…. Oh and the book Sapiens by Noah Harari helped a lot!!!
How much do you think your upbringing (and your parents) informed your politics growing up? How do you talk your son about current events? Is it a family affair?
My parents’ true conviction to stop nuclear proliferation was and is one of the most influential elements of my soul. That my father actually was arrested for doing what he felt was right to challenge and build a better country and protect his children’s future is ultimately profound to me to this day. My son today told me he wishes he could use his Ninja star on Donald Trump. We don’t talk about politics at all to him so his rage at our president is coming from his own inner feelings and “zeitgeist”. He also said today he never wants to be president because it’s an awful job. He’s five…
Can you tell us about your next project, Yellowstone? What drew you to it, and what are you looking forward to sharing with its audience?
Yellowstone is from Taylor Sheridan a great new powerful force in our industry. It’s The Godfather set today in the ranching territory of stunning Montana, Utah and Wyoming. It’s about family and violence and Native American rights. It’s possibly some of the best writing I’ve ever been fortunate enough to read.
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