The Invisible Hand Star Justin Kirk Reflects on Angels & Why Game-Changers Aren't Always Evident
December 2nd, 2014
by Josh Ferri
Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Justin Kirk is back on the New York stage in New York Theatre Workshop’s The Invisible Hand. The thrilling new play by Disgraced Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar tells the story of an American investment banker (Kirk) who is kidnapped and held for ransom in Pakistan.
Photo by Joan Marcus
Of course, there’s no way to talk about Justin Kirk without mentioning two major career/pop-culture milestones: starring as Prior Walter in Mike Nichols’ Emmy-winning HBO adaptation of Angels in America (2003) and his role as lovable screw-up Andy Botwin on Showtime’s hit series Weeds (2005-2012).
Other notable TV gigs include the current FX hit Tyrant, the WB show Jack & Jill, the Emmy-winning comedy Modern Family and the short-lived sitcom Animal Practice.
If we are talking stage (which we always are), Kirk is a Lortel winner for his performance in Ten Unknowns. He’s appeared in starry New York productions of The Understudy and Other Desert Cities, and he starred in the Tony-winning Best Play Love! Valour! Compassion! and the subsequent film adaptation.
With a career as rich as Kirk’s, we were just dying to find out which of these illustrious credits he would consider his game-changer.
Honestly, at least for me, the idea of a part that changes your career per say has not necessarily been the case. What happens is stuff shows up 10 years later. Someone saw something in this, which leads to that. I would say there have been different things: Love! Valour! Compassion! was my second job in New York, I was very young and it was big hit so that was a whole new world for me. Going to do a television show called Jack & Jill really made me comfortable on a set for the first time.
But with the passing of Mike Nichols freshly in mind, Angels in America was obviously a wild thing in my life. There’s a good example—I didn't work for 15 months after I wrapped Angels in America. And everyone was saying, ‘Boy, you must be getting every script;’ and I was slowly going broke. It didn't immediately lead to different things, but then of course to this day it’s such an important play and film and I was so fortunate to be a part of it. I think one thing [Angels] did do for me was that I spent a lot of time on that job overwhelmed and intimidated by the material and my co-workers; it couldn't get any higher on that particular job, on both accounts. And one thing I took away from that experience is that I never was like that again. Maybe it was a good thing I didn't work for a while because it gave me a chance to settle down, and now I just come to work excited. Many different jobs inform you and change you in ways you don't see on the day. Hopefully you keep your head down and keep working, and you become a better actor and a different actor as days go by. That's ideally all you can do.
See Justin Kirk lead The Invisible Hand at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop through January 4, 2015.