Patti LuPone on Uma Thurman’s theater work: ‘Holy sh-t! I’m sorry’

71st Annual Tony Awards - Arrivals

I vaguely remembered covering a Patti LuPone story a while ago, so I had to check the archives – yes, last year, Patti LuPone was on Watch What Happens Live and she burned the f–k out of Madonna. Patti played Eva Peron in the original stage production of Evita. Madonna played Eva Peron in the weaksauce film adaptation. Patti told Andy Cohen that the film version was a “piece of sh-t” and that Madonna is “dead behind the eyes. She couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. She should not be on film or on stage. She’s a wonderful performer for what she does, but she is not an actress.” I bring this up because Patti is at it again! I wish this could be a regularly monthly feature: Theater Queen Patti LuPone Talks Sh-t About Other Actresses. Wouldn’t you love that? This week’s sh-t talking is about Uma Thurman. Oh noes!!

Patti LuPone wants Hollywood stars to say in Hollywood, specifically Uma Thurman.

“I don’t necessarily need to see film actors on stage, because they can’t. Not in my country they can’t,” LuPone said at the launch of a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, per iNews. “Can I just say, Uma Thurman in ‘The Parisian Woman,’ anybody see it? Holy s–t! I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Thurman received mixed reviews for her role in last year’s “The Parisian Woman.” LuPone said while there might not be a stigma against film actors appearing on Broadway anymore, “perhaps there should be.”

“It’s hard work, so I want you to understand that I have nothing against Uma Thurman,” said Tony award-winning LuPone, who starred in “Evita” and “Sunset Boulevard.” “But you want those people to come to the stage for the right reason and that is to honor the stage, honor the theatre and not be in for themselves, and I’m not saying that Uma was.”

She added, “You also lower the standard, and that seems to be happening in the world with everything.” A rep for LuPone had no further comment. Thurman’s rep didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

[From Page Six]

I like Uma Thurman just fine, and I hope she doesn’t respond. What can you even say when the Grand Dame of Theater slams you so thoroughly? You can only shrug and hope to do better some other time. As for what Patti is saying… she’s basically telling film and television actors to stay in their lane, and don’t expect to get some “actor cred” by doing one or two stints on Broadway. She might have a point – in the past decade, a lot of film actors have gone off and done plays, and they’ve even been heavily awarded for it at the Tonys and critics’ awards. But are they really “lowering the standard”? I don’t know. I think it’s a mixed bag – some actors that we now consider “film actors” really did get their start in theater, and they relish the opportunity to go back. Some film actors are just doing theater work for the actor-cred.

Almost on cue, here’s Uma Thurman out and about this week in New York. The photo agency made a point of saying that she’s not wearing makeup. Her sweater is amazing!!! I like the jacket too.

Uma Thurman out without makeup

Uma Thurman out without makeup

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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110 Responses to “Patti LuPone on Uma Thurman’s theater work: ‘Holy sh-t! I’m sorry’”

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  1. Lahdidahbaby says:

    The thing is, we born-blondes don’t have actual faces, so when we’re not wearing make-up our faces disappear. Wish I had the huevos (ovaries?) to go out barefaced like that. Shit, I wear eyeliner every waking minute of my life. Sometimes I wonder if I could SEE without it.

    Good for Uma. I salute her.

    • homeslice says:

      Blond and pale here…47 and just gave up mascara for everyday. It felt weird at first, but now I’m like whatevs. I always rub my eyes and it’s useless for me. Take me as I am lol.

      • MoCO says:

        Try dyeing your eyelashes! It’s my one indulgence. My eyelashes are blond so if I go without mascara people always tell me I look tired — sigh. No, my eyes are just invisible. A dye job every 6 weeks saves me from ever needing mascara.

    • tealily says:

      I’m brunette and I think barefaced blondes are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! My mom is very blond and rarely wears makeup and has always rocked it! Don’t be afraid, ladies. If you want to do it, go for it!

    • slowsnow says:

      Funny. I always think brunettes who dye their hand blond loose their features but not real blondes – there are exceptions of course! We all look a little washed out in the winter anyway… I am sure you look fantastic sans make-up.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I hate the strange opposite. White blonde as a child but I have olive undertones, so I tan and in the summers looked like an escapee from a beach dwelling cult. I have had different hair colors as an adult, but now I am back to the original blonde. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I dye my lashes sometimes.
      I always think people look best closest to their hair color tones unless they are going for a dramatic statement.
      I will forever dislike Nicole Kidman as a blonde. I know her red faded, but she looks washed out and sickly. But in BLL she looked gorgeous with that hair color.

      • LizLemonGotMarried (aka The Hufflepuff Liz Lemon) says:

        I recently tried to have my almost black with red undertones hair lightened to a balayaged cinnamon and copper look…. it did not go well. So I’m sticking with the natural for another year (after losing 6-8 inches and ending up with newscaster hair, which is not my dream). And I have to find a new salon. The natural looks great in the winter, but in the summer I feel like it can look a little harsh. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • Plantpal says:

      Without makeup, though, people really focus on your face..whcih means your eyes are laughing right along with your mouth. It’s easier to ‘read’ a face with no makeup..

      • Lahdidahbaby says:

        LOL at “newscaster hair,” LizLemon — love that description! Your coloring is what I have longed for all my life. When I was a scrawny 15-year-old and just beginning to get a sense of myself as a female, my older brother informed me one day, “No blonde can ever be beautiful. Only brunettes can be truly beautiful.” And when I think of all the women in the world I find beautiful, his rather unkind (to a budding 15-year-old) judgment actually seems true — the most beautiful women are brunettes. But I always have Tilda Swinton to remind me that a blonde actually CAN be interesting looking.

    • wirtoahfgoi says:

      exactly my thoughts. I have this problem as well.

  2. QueenB says:

    I get her point in general but this gatekeeping is ridiculous.

    • Jussie says:

      I don’t see it as gate-keeping. Theatre is an entirely different medium that requires different skills to screen acting. The people who put in the work to learn those skills are totally embraced by the theatre community.

      Most American A-list actors don’t do that though, they just show up with no prep and no idea and proceed to ruin otherwise good shows.

      • AnnaKist says:

        Hi, Jussie. I’ve never seen an American stage show, so cannot comment on what happens there, but down here, some of our “a-list” film and television actors often turn to theatre work, because there just isn’t enough TV and film work to keep many employed on a regular basis, so I’m assuming it’s at least a little bit different. I completely agree with you about the skill set and disciplines required for stage acting. Many of our actors started out on the stage and are able to go backwards and forwards from stage to screen, whenever and wherever the work takes them. The ones who really make tits of themselves down here are the Johnny-come-lately (does anyone even say that anymore?!), pretty-boy/girl types, usually one-hit-wonder pop singers, who try to earn cheap cred by scoring a part in live theatre. I agree with a lot of what Patti LuPone says. It’s about paying your dues.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      While they are very different mediums where actors need to approach them differently, theatre is incredibly snobby. I’m in London and if you haven’t been to drama school then u can forget a career on the stage – was told this by several professional actors and acting coaches. They agree it’s wrong but the ingrained snobbery is one of the darker sides of theatreland. People who go to drama school are taught to act for the stage, not screen hence why some actors struggle going between the 2.

      The other issue is that a persons talent or lack of is easily covered up, on stage it’s not. It takes a lot of stamina and energy.

  3. Ally says:

    So by extension, Patti shouldn’t do film or television? I’m always happy to see her there, but her range is pretty limited in those mediums, by the way. Mainly, I really don’t appreciate her nitpicking Uma Thurman just now.

  4. Lindy79 says:

    I get it to a point (there have been some nominations of traditionally non stage actors in the Tony’s that were a little…odd) but does this also apply to stage actors not crossing over into tv/film?

    • SM says:

      From my experience I feel like theater people look down on every other medium as being lower and requiring less skill and than theater so they usually think they can do whatever actors are doing on film or on tv. So no, they assume it goes only one way.

  5. lightpurple says:

    If you ever get the chance to see Patti Lupone do her one woman Patti Lupone show, GO! It is two hours of Patti telling stories about show business plus Patti singing. Bitchy, Catty. Hilarious. God, what a voice!

  6. Redgrl says:

    I remember seeing shows on Broadway and at the Shaw Festival and thinking – wow, now those are actors. Five to seven shows per week, no retakes, no auto tune for the singers, just going out there and delivering over & over – takes dedication and stamina and true talent. It’s a different medium and I think an awful lot of traditional tv or movie actors would not cut it night after night nor without the touch ups, retakes etc. I haven’t seen Uma Thurman’s play so I can’t really comment specifically to her, though. I tend to think it would be easier to transition from stage to TV or film than vice versa.

    • Esmom says:

      It’s so true. I even think that about high school theater actors. So much more demanding than films or TV. And it’s not exactly apples to apples but back in the day I admired how much work soap actors had to do. With a daily show they had to memorize so much more, and rarely got breaks, unless their character was in a coma or something, lol. Seemed so much more labor intensive and demanding to me than “regular” TV.

      • lightpurple says:

        And many soap actors, on the shows that were based out of New York, also did theater.

      • Anastasia says:

        Yes! I teach at a performing arts high school and damn, the work those kids put in on the all-school musical is brutal. Rehearsals every day after school from 4-9 pm, then when the show starts, it runs five nights plus an extra matinee, and if their voice goes out, all hell breaks loose. I’ve had kids come to class wearing a sign saying “I’M ON VOCAL REST” so teachers know they can’t speak. I’ve seen them so bleary-eyed they can’t even stay awake, even when WALKING.

        It’s a LOT of hard work.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I disagree, I don’t think stage is “so much more demanding than films or TV”. They can all be grueling depending on the standards of the production….they are just different kinds of grueling.

  7. Mia4s says:

    I’d expect nothing less from Patti, honestly I just laughed.

    Broadway is still probably the toughest but to crack, I don’t think that’s changed. Yes there have been some…questionable…Tony nominations. I remember a lot of people side-eyed Scarlett Johannsen’s supporting win. But stage critics are brutal. Julia Roberts got terrible reviews. Emilie Clarke from Game of Thrones was basically laughed off stage and her play was a massive flop. Passes aren’t being handed out freely.

    And every industry has their weirdness. Streep gets nominated for sneezing these days. Ellen Burstyn got an Emmy nomination for a 14 second (yes, second) role. It’s an industry thing.

  8. Astrid says:

    Wow, this is what Uma really looks like? I didn’t recognize her.

  9. Danielle says:

    Stage and film acting are very different. You have to act “bigger” on a strange, which can come across as hammy on a screen. There is a story about Richard Burton acting with elizabeth Taylor for this first time and thinning her acting was awful. Then he saw the film of the scene and was blown away. Her small movements and eyes conveyed emotion. You wouldn’t be able to see that on stage tho.

  10. Fanny says:

    Reminds me of Birdman when the theater critic sits and the bar fuming about untrained Hollywood actors who think they can do theater.

    It’s not nice for Uma Thurman, but the Broadway community might need a little bit of a slap from their grand dame. It seems like any celebrity actor will get a Tony Award nomination. Uma will probably get one no matter how bad she is.

    Michelle Williams got a Tony nomination, and she was absolutely atrocious in the play she did. Like, “Please God somebody hand me tomatoes to throw at her” bad.

  11. L84Tea says:

    There’s a reason Patti LuPone has always been referred to as “The Original Diva” in the theater world. I still love her though. :-)

  12. AbbyRose says:

    Patti Lupone is a treasure. I can understand her going after Madonna’s mediocre performance in a role Lupone made her own. But going after Uma out of the blue is just petty. And honestly, having film and tv stars on broadway is good for the theater business.

  13. Nicole says:

    I get it. Theater is a completely different beast and it requires different skills. It’s different for those that start onstage and go to tv or films. In general that makes more money unless you’re like the OBC of Hamilton who all have a piece of that very lucrative pie. That’s not the norm so many transfer to tv/film.
    However other actors that do the reverse are often pretty terrible. So I get it. Plus you don’t disagree with the Queen.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I agree with you. Stage is grueling and used to be more separate and in my thinking that was a good thing. They use known film stars for attention and to appeal to the masses, but it takes work away from actors with the skills that shine on stage. Performers who concentrate on stage are often multi talented, and age is less of a concern so they can have long rewarding careers.
      Patti is speaking the truth even if it is harsh.

  14. T.Fanty says:

    The bottom line is that if Patti says it, it must be true.

    The same thing is true in reverse, though. Patti isn’t great on screen, and I’ll say it: Mark Rylance’s schtick gets really old really fast in movies.

  15. msd says:

    I don’t disagree with the general point but I think she could make that point without naming specific women. That just seems nasty. It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth that she seems to only call out other women. Plus, there are exceptions because some movie stars have classical training or started in theatre and are actually excellent on stage.

    Ultimately it’s a money decision. Famous names attract investment because they attract bigger audiences, especially people who may not go to the theatre much. It’s not ideal but it’s not ultimately the fault of the actor. Why not call out producers or audiences or the system?

  16. perplexed says:

    I would rather just leave it to the critics to savage the performances of movie stars than do the dirty work myself.

  17. Square Bologna says:

    Has anyone here seen Bryan Cranston onstage, in All The Way or anything else? I’m thinking he did some theater before he became famous. I know he also worked on a soap. He’s been everywhere! I wonder what Patti LuPone would say about him! :)

  18. Neelyo says:

    For many movie stars past their prime, Broadway has been a sort of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ type gig (Bruce Willis in MISERY for example) but I’ve seen Patti Lupone give a horrible performance so she should take a seat.

    On the other hand, some actors with little or no theatre training have been revelations on stage. Anne Heche was phenomenal in both PROOF and TWENTIETH CENTURY. And Scarlett Johansson, though not extraordinary, held her own quite nicely in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

  19. Anastasia says:

    Eh, I agree with her here. I also agree there was no need to call out Uma, I quite like Uma, and have always thought she was a good actor, just maybe not a stage actor.

  20. Lizzie says:

    IMHO live theater is insufferable. if i want to listen to someone scream talk at me and nonsensically break into song – i’ll stay home and play with my toddler.

    • Anastasia says:

      LOL, pretty much my feelings. And with only a few exceptions, I HATE musicals. I can’t even admit that around most of my friends.

      I do like plays (not musicals) in smaller, more intimate venues that are comedies or who-done-its with a streak of comedy. Those are fun.

    • KLO says:

      haha @Lizzie that is what my mother thinks about theatre. I do not necessarily 100 per cent disagree. XD

    • Guest says:

      LOL – because theater = musical.

      I love live theater. Tennessee Williams wrote phantastic plays and I’ve never seen anyone break out into songs in a Shakespeare play. I was lucky to have seen many great preformances on stage that touched my heart and stayed with me for a long time. Not one of the actors scream talked to me. But maybe that’s because I don’t watch musicals especially not the hyped ones. I have seen two musicals as a teen “My fair lady” and “Phantom of the opera” . I liked them well enough, but it is not my favorit genre. (If I got the change to catch Chicago I would make an exception)

  21. Kelly says:

    You can be honest without eviscerating people. I like Patti, but she’s always had a reputation for being difficult. Andrew Lloyd Webber fired her from Sunset Boulevard back in the day and replaced her with Glenn Close. That may be why she’s so salty.

  22. Kristen820 says:

    Because this post is related to theatre, I’m going to take the opportunity to shamelessly plug the touring production of Les Mis. My friend Nick is Valjean!!! He’s worked harder to get where he is than anyone I’ve ever met, and deserves EVERY BIT of his success. Go see him! 😀

  23. YAS says:

    As an avid theatergoer, I agree that film actors may not necessarily translate to the stage. I do agree that Uma was not great and I’ve seen the great Julianne Moore and Annette Benning on stage and the results were…abysmal. However, once in a while, a screen actor is a real pleasant surprise. I saw Chris Evans in his Broadway debut last month. He’s the real deal – a phenomenal stage actor even though his professional career has been mostly screenwork. I hope he does more.

    • lucy2 says:

      Same – I’ve seen a few big names that were great, and a few that weren’t. I saw Patti a few years ago and she was wonderful. I think her comment is true, but she could have expressed it without throwing a specific person (Uma) under the bus. And the reverse is true too, some theater actors are not well suited to film or television.

      I was just reading something about how 75% of Broadway shows fail financially, so I can’t blame producers for trying to draw on celebrity to sell tickets, but it would be nice if they avoided those who aren’t cut out for live theater.

    • Shay says:

      The parsing of the interview is a bit unfair because she did point out that many screen actors are brilliant on stage it’s just that many aren’t prepared or don’t have the skills for stage acting vs screen acting.

      https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/patti-lupone-i-dont-need-to-see-film-actors-on-stage-36793300.html

      LuPone agreed with you about Evans .

      She later added: “I have to qualify that – there are a lot of film actors that have made their career in film that come to the stage and are brilliant.

      “One of the examples of that is Lobby Hero right now on Broadway with Chris Evans and Michael Cera, and there is a British girl in there, Bel Powley, she’s fantastic, they are all incredible.

      “Chris Evans has never been on Broadway before, he’s making his Broadway debut. The stage presence, the command, the diction was incredible, but then there are people for some reason who feel they need to come to the stage and I don’t know why, because they don’t have the theatrical ability.”

    • anon14 says:

      Bening actually started out as a stage actor doing regional theatre. She made a splash in Tina Howe’s Off-Broadway Coastal Disturbances, which then transferred to Broadway in 1987 and for which she received a Tony nomination. This was before she hit Hollywood.

  24. abbeyroad says:

    Patti…girl…it’s not a good look. Sometimes she’s right. But it’s really not universally true. I hope this doesn’t come off as braggy, just wanted to share some experience: I was so, lucky to get to go to school in New York and see a lot of plays onstage, and they did have more and more film and TV actors in them between the time I arrived and the time I left. Some weren’t great, some were amazing. My biggest surprise was Julianne Moore. I love her so I thought she’d be incredible but she was…just not great onstage. I thought while watching the show she was in that the exact performance she was giving would be riveting if it were on a screen. On the other hand I thought Mark Ruffallo was amazing and I saw a play with Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery where he just about ripped my heart out of my chest. She was quite good as well. I also saw a few shows where well-known theatre actors weren’t as mind-blowing as I thought they’d be. Everyone has off nights and as someone else said, there are theatre actors who can’t do both. It’s so impressive when there are people who can do it all and I think we can celebrate that without being this catty to people who can’t, which is most people.

    I hope that didn’t come off as obnoxiously name-droppy, I just thought specific examples would be better than being vague.

    Man, now I’m thinking about how I just want John Slattery to have it all.

    Patti. Be kind! I like you. I like Uma. The world is wide enough for both…

    • KLO says:

      Very happy to read about your experiences, that was an interesting comment.
      I am sorry to hear about Julianne Moore because i absolutely love her in every movie she is in.
      I also get how it is possible that her talents do not translate well on stage. Oh well, she is great in her own right anyway.

  25. CK3 says:

    I love Patti, but …. I heavily disagree. Yes, some film stars have terrible broadway debuts, but that can be said for many stage actors as well. The difference there is time, position, and availability. Uma isn’t going to be an understudy for a couple of years before making her big debut nor is she going to do the repeat outings that it takes for one to come close on stage. They do, however, serve an important purpose in raising capital for theaters/producers while falling on their face.

  26. Grant says:

    I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones in A Little Night Music on Broadway over a decade ago. She was astonishingly good. I believe she went on to win a Tony. But then again, she may have had more of a musical theater background. I can’t recall.

  27. isadora says:

    I would like to point out that most movie stars out there start out as stage actors but make the transition to the screen and hit it big and then for a while keep doing film & tv because it pays better and do an occasional stage gig on the side. A lot of actors do love the stage but in comparison to film & tv it doesn’t pay very well.

    Yes, there are some actors better suited for the screen and there are some better suited for the stage. Yes, they are 2 different mediums that require a different skillset of acting.

    Anyway i feel that Patti is generalizing and not nuanced at all. She works in the niche that is musical theatre that requires you to sing,act and dance. Now, if she had a problem with stage productions stunt casting inexperienced/unsuited people because of their popularity and drawing people in and not necessarily for their talents of carrying a role i’d say she’d have a point but this is just terribly rude.

    I’ve read a few interviews that she’s not one who holds back opinions. But sometimes you need to learn when it’s necessary to speak up and when to just not say a thing.

  28. tmbg says:

    She might not be the nicest, but she’s Patti. I will always love that voice.

    And, she went on an epic Trump rant (NSFW):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S6vP68zcjuU

    And again (also NSFW):

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gg-acP4G6Xw

  29. Veronica S. says:

    DAYUM, she went for her life, haha. Honestly, I’m not surprised it’s a difficult transition for some of them. Stage performances take far more dedicated energy over a consistent period of time, rather than in short bursts like film or television. Not everybody performs well in those circumstances.

  30. Ashley says:

    Patty LuPone sounds like a bitter old hag…

  31. brincalhona says:

    I do wonder how TV directors feel when actors in the show get a directing gig after a few series. Also, I’m sure Hollywood actors get to direct more films based on their name than having built up a body of work or shown a director’s vision. Any folks in the business on here who can shed light on this?

  32. Cynical Ann says:

    I know my SIL who’s a stage actress got incredibly frustrated trying in NYC after doing a very successful run in an off-Braodway show to try and break into something first run. It’s sort of a catch-22: theater is incredibly expensive to produce, and they want to sell seats, so they bring in TV and movie actors so they can fill an audience. But then that means that so many of the parts go to the those “name” actors versus stage actors, who could use the break and the job (and might very well be better in the parts because they’re actually trained for it.)

  33. Susan says:

    Someone ask her about Anne Hathaway!!

  34. Sunny says:

    I adore stage musical “The Phantom of the Opera”, but I loathed the 2004 screen adoptation of it.

  35. Dina says:

    It must be how a professional model feels when an actor gets the cover of Vogue. I don’t see anything wrong with a celebrity doing a bit of theater every now and then. I’m sure they enjoy it and it boosts sales. I might not want them to dance the Nutcracker if they have no idea what they are doing, but act in a play? Sure, why not.