Here's what I wrote about actor Brian J. Smith in 2002 when he was a 21-year-old student starring as Alex, head of the Droogs, in Collin College's production of A Clockwork Orange: "His command of this difficult role is impressive and memorable. Smith, who grew up in Allen, has the incendiary stage presence of a young John Malkovich, but with the sweet good looks of a teen movie idol. This young actor's going places, wait and see."
|Michael J. Lutch|
|Celia Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith in The Glass Menagerie|
Here's what New York Times critic Ben Brantley recently wrote about Smith, now 32 and starring on Broadway as the Gentleman Caller in an acclaimed revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie: "... his scene alone with Laura -- in which he gives her and himself a lecture on becoming a positive person -- may be the best version of it we'll ever see."
So just as predicted, Smith has gone places as an actor. After Collin College, he went to Juilliard, where he earned his BFA in acting. He went into good roles in small movies and a big role in two seasons of the SyFy cable TV series Stargate: Universe.
Glass Menagerie is Smith's third Broadway play. Buzz around his performance has him pegged as a probable Tony nominee this spring, along with co-stars Cherry Jones as Amanda Wingfield, Zachary Quinto as Tom and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura. Entertainment Weekly said Smith's performance "hits just the right notes of vanity and vulnerability." The New York Post profiled him under the headline "the new hottie burning up Broadway."
I saw The Glass Menagerie from the second row at the Booth Theatre last week. Smith's scene, a nearly 30-minute monologue opposite the shy, lovestruck Laura, is exquisite, the heart of one of the great pieces of American theater. (The Times wrote a separate feature about the delicate dance between the characters of Laura and her Gentleman Caller in this "play within the play.") If Smith reminded me of Malkovich when he was 21, now he is a young Jimmy Stewart, tall and handsome, a skilled but never showy actor. When his Gentleman Caller takes Laura in his arms for a long kiss, it feels so real and intimate, the audience seemed to freeze for a moment, afraid of breaking the spell.
I've kept in touch with Smith through the years. He's a Broadway star now but as yet unhindered by "handlers" or publicists. The day after I saw him in The Glass Menagerie, I tossed him five questions about his current success.More »