Keith Huff Leaps to Broadway
The playwright Keith Huff leaps to Broadway
Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are doing his play on Broadway. But Keith Huff isn’t giving up his day job at a medical journal just yet. A Steady Rain, a tense drama about two Chicago cops, played to glorious reviews last year and opens in New York in September. We talked to the author, a Wildwood resident.
Q: You just got a high-six-figure deal to write the screenplay. Why a day job?
A: I tend to be a little neurotic about stability and security. Actually, a lot neurotic. I have an eight-year-old daughter, my wife works freelance, and I’ve been writing plays on the side for more than 20 years. This could all go away. The business is incredibly volatile. I’ve got a two-month leave from my job for rehearsals and opening night. Then I’m coming back.
Q: When do you find time to write about non-orthopedic matters?
A: I get up really early, and I go to bed really early. Like I’ll go to bed at seven [p.m.] and get up around one or two, and write for four or five hours before work.
Q: It seems like A Steady Rain was a megahit since it opened at Chicago Dramatists. Did you have more than one theater wanting to produce it?
A: I had more than one theater not wanting to produce it. Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Northlight—they all rejected it. The message was ‘This is just two guys talking. Nobody wants to see that.’
Q: Do you ever want to call the Goodman and gloat a little?
A: I think I sort of just did.
Q: You’ve got Daniel Craig calling you at your day job at Orthopaedic Knowledge Online. Is that weird?
A: That was my one freak-out moment.
Q: Russ Tutterow did an extraordinary job directing A Steady Rain here. Why bring in somebody else? [John Crowley is directing.]
A: As soon as Daniel was on board, the feeling was we had to have a director who had done Broadway before. It’s just the way it is.
Q: Craig and Jackman are movie stars. Can they act?
A: When Daniel works, he has this amazing, deeply detailed internal emotional life. On the outside, he’s completely controlled and reserved and cool—but that internal life? You can see it. He doesn’t scream or shout; there’s just this rich internal foundation, right there. James Bond is the quintessential example of that. And Hugh—well, we needed somebody who could be the alpha male to Daniel Craig. Hugh was at the top of a very short list.
Q: Wolverine and James Bond as Chicago cops? Seriously?
A: There are two extreme types of Chicago cops: the stereotypical doughnut-eating overweight cop, and the cop who never stops working out. They actually buy their uniform a size too small so people can see their muscles pop. Craig and Hugh—it’s not the stretch you might think.
Photograph: Joe C. Moreno