Veteran performer Jack Noseworthy reinvents himself in Two Point Oh
In Jeffrey Jackson’s new play, Two Point Oh, billionaire software impresario Elliot Leeds (Jack Noseworthy) dies when his private jet crashes en route to an important G8 summit in Asia. Tragic as his passing is, life gets even more confusing for his grieving widow, Melanie (Karron Graves), when Elliot resurfaces as a fully interactive virtual reality simulation of himself, programmed with endless hours of footage with recorded thoughts and responses. Powered by a mechanical system of underground supercomputers, Elliot can answer questions and engage in conversations.
Not quite dead, but not exactly alive either, Elliot now resides in an oddly imposing limbo that allows him to communicate with his loved ones and colleagues, an intrusion that allows them to connect with Elliot but prevents them from allowing them to move on.
It’s a topic that Noseworthy finds incredibly timely and relevant. “We’re funding funny moments in the show because we are finding ways in which this is actually possible,” he explains. “There was a case in which people were trying to copy genetic code that went all the way to the Supreme Court. “The idea that the software came from one person is fascinating. What is the essence of us? How are memories different from software memory? I think will be cause for a lot of conversation. It’s a cerebral, thought-provoking play.”
The performer continues to reflect on the marriage of computers and human life, offering up examples of cases involving programmed robots. But there is certainly nothing robotic about Noseworthy, whose youthful looks and exuberant demeanor belie several decades of stage and screen experience. In fact, over several glasses of red wine at a Chelsea bar not far from the home he shares with the esteemed choreographer Sergio Trujillo, the actor proves to be not only charming but as good a listener as an interviewee as most interviewers are required to be.
“I love working on new material. That’s what I always try to do now,” says Noseworthy, who cut his teeth early on as a dancer and made his Broadway debut as part of the final cast of the famed run of A Chorus Line and worked on a slate of high-profile musicals before making the leap to television in the early 1990s. There milestones followed as well, including a starring role in the Emmy-nominated A Place For Annie opposite Mary-Louise Parker, Joan Plowright and Sissy Spacek (“Sissy and I remained friends after that”) and the lead role in the adventure series Dead at 21, which marks MTV’s first foray into scripted programming (“It was guerilla filmmaking and I loved it – then MTV came under fire for not playing enough videos!”)
As a dancer, Two Point Oh – directed by Michael Unger, and running at 59E59 Theatres through October 20 – provided certain unique challenges for Noseworthy, who spends the better part of the play offstage, playing to a screen, not unlike the Wizard of Oz. “I’m a really physical actor, so much of my energy comes from me using my body,” he says. “One of the challenges for me, and one of the reasons I was happy to take this on was to figure out new ways to funnel this energy and communicate. I was also enormously aware of my voice and how my vocal pattern was responding; the pitch and pattern of his voice changes based on which character he talks to.”
Clearly, Noseworthy is an actor who likes to keep busy and flex his muscles. He also recently narrated Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals, with the New York City Ballet. The story, written and originally narrated by Noseworthy’s Sweet Smell of Success co-star John Lithgow, is set in a mythical, well-to-do New York where a young prep-school boy hides in the American Museum of Natural History. He also stars in Matthew A. Brown’s upcoming film Julia, playing a psychiatrist helping rape victims.
Noseworthy also mentions during our discussion having earlier gotten a tweet from Rob Lowe, who plays John F. Kennedy opposite Noseworthy’s Bobby in Killing Kennedy, a miniseries about the American political dynasty to begin airing on the National Geographic Channel on November 10. (Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald, and Michelle Trachtenberg as his widow, Marina, round out the cast.) Based on the non-fiction account by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, the film is directed by Nelson McCormick. Lowe’s message is high praise, indeed: “You’re so good in the movie!” Noseworthy recounts.
A Boston native, Noseworthy was as fascinated by the real-life person he portrays in Kennedy as he was by the virtual one he embodies in Two Point Oh. “Bobby grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was a smart guy but lived in Jack’s shadow,” he says, citing the human elements he found in his portrayal. “He was forced to work on Jack’s campaign, and Jack made him the attorney general, but Jack never noticed Bobby till the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile Crisis. Jack only began to notice Bobby when he died and it crushed him. I have an enormous amount of respect for Bobby. His assassination was such a lost promise and lost dream.”
Always radiating positivity, Noseworthy is quite effusive about the current golden age of television. “It’s sooo good!” He exclaims. “Homeland, House of Cards, the work is so good, and there are so many outlets for it. I’ve never been a series regular in a long-running show but it’s like being in a play, to dig into a character and work with the same people every day. And there’s of course an element of security I’d like to have. I’m a working actor I spend a lot of time auditioning and waiting to get the next job. I’d live to know that I’m doing good work on a show that people are watching!”
For more information on Two Point Oh, please visit http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=131
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