One of the most intriguing moments during the The Segal Centre press conference for their 2014-15 lineup was the announcement of a new adaptation of The Graduate. This past summer the star of that show, Luke Humphrey, generously agreed to answer a few questions for us via email. Here’s what Forget the Box found out about Humphrey’s love of Shakespeare, being an American in Canada, and stepping into the iconic role of Benjamin Braddock.
Stephanie Laughlin: As someone born and trained in the States, what brought your career to Canada?
Luke Humphrey: I’m actually the only American in a family of Canadians. Growing up I spent every winter and summer holiday visiting family, so moving here felt pretty natural.
I was at university at NYU when former Stratford Festival artistic director Des McAnuff saw me in a student production of A Winter’s Tale. We talked after and he invited me to join the season. My professional acting debut was in The Tempest at The Stratford Festival with Christopher Plummer. I played islander #3 in a skin tight lizard body suit. Ever since then, I have really fallen in love with Canada. I really believe the future of both screen and stage is very exciting here, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
SL: What would you do if you weren’t acting?
LH: I love producing. I actually had a commercial production company for a while but acting took over and I had to step away. Though recently I have been really interested in becoming a truck driver, so maybe in another life I would do that.
SL: What keeps drawing you back to the Stratford Festival?
LH: The Stratford festival is Disneyland for actors. There are classes, coaches, and workshops to explore and work on your craft and you get to work with some of the most talented people from so many fields. It is really supportive environment to be in as an artist. It was great to be able to start my career there, and I was able to just sponge off of so many great minds and talents.
SL: What’s your favourite Shakespeare play?
LH: That’s tricky. There’s plays that I love as an audience member, and plays I love as an actor. I have to say at this stage of my life, I’m very interested in Henry IV 1 and 2 into Henry V. I think it is a very human exploration of responsibility and duty and the search for greatness not from ceremony and title, but from action and deeds. I find myself mumbling those monologues as I walk down the street.
SL: What brought you to The Segal Centre for The Graduate?
LH: Lisa Rubin saw me in Taking Shakespeare with Martha Henry at Stratford last year and a couple months later I got a text message asking me if I would be interested in doing The Graduate. I thought it was too good to be true. I had heard a lot of great things about The Segal Centre both from audiences and artists who had worked there so was very happy to have the opportunity. I had also been talking to Andrew Shaver about finding something we could work on together so when I found out he was directing I was overjoyed. I mean really, this whole project is a dream for me.
SL: How do you apporach a role like Benjamin Braddock, when it’s already been so iconically portrayed by someone else?
LH: Approaching something like this is very similar to approaching a Shakespeare play. You have seen it done and have an iconic image in your head, but you can’t just go out there and do an impression of the person who went before. You have to pick up the script and bring yourself to the part, allow your own qualities to colour the part in a way that makes it unique. It helps that the play is different from the movie, which is different from the book. While the story is more or less the same, the feel and tone is different enough where I don’t feel exactly like I’m walking down the same path that Mike Nichols and Dustin Hoffman created.
SL: What are your goals for the future?
LH: Right now I’m just thrilled that people keep allowing me to be in their plays. Down the road I want to combine my producing experience with my acting career and hopefully keep working on interesting projects with exciting people, I mean, that’s the dream.
The Graduate runs at the Segal Centre until September 21st, tickets available through SegalCentre.org