Company Man is a 1950s CIA romp starring Doug McGrath (who had previously directed me in Emma) as a nerdy grammar teacher who accidentally joins the CIA and heads up their operation in Cuba, just before the Bay of Pigs crisis.
I was cast as General Batista, the dictator of Cuba (natch!) who had been recently ousted by Castro. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, Woody Allen, Dennis Leary, Ryan Phillipe and Anthony LaPaglia. It was shot in New York and Puerto Rico, and written and directed by McGrath and Peter Askin.
I had such a laugh on this film. I was exhausted because I was still doing Cabaret at nights, but it was such a good atmosphere on the set and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also loved playing a manic former dictator obsessed with household goods!
The film was released in February 2001.
I provided the voice of The Devil for NBC's animated show, God, The Devil and Bob, which had James Garner providing the voice of God and French Stewart as Bob.
I actually did this project while filming Annie and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. We made twelve episodes of biting satire about God and the Devil coming down to Detroit and vying for the soul of this man called Bob. I was saddened by the way it was handled when it came out. I thought it was a sad thing for America that satire doesn't seem to be allowed with certain subject matters. It's a cartoon! I think it's sad if people can't laugh or that certain aspects of society can't be parodied. People are so serious about their religion that they can't allow for anything remotely fun to be made about it.
Rob Marshall (who choreographed Cabaret on Broadway) asked me to take on the role of "Rooster" in this reworking of the popular American musical, Annie.
Kathy Bates plays Miss Hannigan and the rest of the cast includes Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenowith, and Alicia Morton as Annie.
I had never seen Annie and didn't know the story when Rob asked me to do it. It was really scary for me, because I felt so out of my depth in so many ways. I'd never done a musical like this before, but Rob has a way of making you feel confident about things that you can't do very well, like dancing and singing!! Dancing down the street at the backlot of Warner Bros. in Burbank, singing Easy Street was one of the best moments of my showbiz life!!!
Kander and Ebb were being honored at the 1998 Kennedy Center Honors and I was asked to take part in the presentation in their honor, directed by Rob Marshall. It was me, Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth, Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli! Not bad company!
I felt completely out of my depth. I remember in rehearsals Liza trying to teach me how to do that funny shoulder thing she does in New York, New York (which was the finale of the presentation) and not being able to grasp it and Liza saying 'Oh darling, just make it your own!'
I was still performing Cabaret on Broadway and they wouldn't let me have the Sunday matinee off so I had to rush to the airport right after the show and fly to D.C. and of course I missed the plane I was supposed to get, so by the time I got there I was late and there were Secret Service men waiting to get me when the plane door opened. I was driven so fast, in a car with a siren on top of it, and drivers were literally driving off the road to get out of our way as we passed. The thing is you have to get into a building before the president arrives cos once he gets there the doors are all locked. I was opening the entire show so it was kind of important to get me there that fast! We made it in the nick of time, but the entire experience was utterly surreal.
Afterwards at the party I met Henry Kissinger and we had our picture taken. I had it made into a christmas card and it said 'Love and Peace, Love Alan and Henry'!
I took a hiatus from Cabaret to fly to Rome and play Saturninus in Julie Taymor's film Titus, of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Anthony Hopkins starred as Titus, and Jessica Lange as Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Other roles were played by Colm Fiore, Laura Fraser, Matthew Rhys, Jonathon Rhys-Myers and Harry J. Lennix.
The film was an extraordinary merging of times and ideas, and a visually stunning and emotionally charged experience. I had always admired Jessica and Tony, so to get to work with them on such an amazing project was really exciting to me. Although it was a difficult and at times really unhappy shoot for me, I really love this film and am so proud to be a part of it.
Here is a reel of interviews and appearances about Cabaret, on CNN Showbiz Tonight, NY1, The Late Show with David Letterman, Fox's Judith Regan Show (my Mum appears!) and the Rosie O'Donnell show, which had to have a PG rating because of our performance of Wilkommen!! And finally CBS' Morning Show.
Also there is the Broadway Beat special on the show.
Also here's me discussing my experiences in Cabaret with Charlie Rose...
And here is Launching the Tony's 98
Broadway Bares is a yearly institution when the theater community in NYC gets down and dirty and raises a ton of cash for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It is one of the most fun things ever, both to watch and to be in.
This was my first year and I was not quite sure to expect, but they eased me in gently...
On a break from Titus, I shot a cameo in Urbania by Jon Shear. I played Brett, a man dying from AIDS, who is visited by Dan Futterman's character in the midst of his personal odyssey.
I am so happy this film did so well. It is a really stylish and moving story. I loved my scene, and think Jon is a great director.
The film premiered at Sundance 2000.
I reprised his role of The Emcee in the Broadway production, with Natasha Richardson playing opposite me as Sally Bowles, and Sam Mendes was joined by Rob Marshall as co-director and choreographer.
The production was a huge success, and I won the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Theatre World, FANY, New York Press and New York Public Advocate's Awards for my performance. Not bad, huh?!
Well, what can I say about this? It changed my life. Somehow or other, the show and my character entered the zeitgeist of American culture, and nothing will ever be the same again! It was completely overwhelming - I had no idea what success on Broadway was like, and I had the time of my life. The first night I was so tense because I felt that everything was going to change and it did. I remember being so stressed out because I got sent so many presents and things and my dressing room was so tiny. I didn't think I was going to be able to get ready because there was no room. The stairs backstage too were all lined with everybody's gifts. It was excessive. I got really upset and had a little cry with Ron Rifkin. I was so stressed out because of the weight of responsibility I felt for what was about to happen, and so I went next door and had a really good cry with Ron Rifkin. And also on my last day, it was a lovely thing. All the friends I'd made in New York were there to share it with me. I remember trying to start the show and walking out on stage and people wouldn't stop clapping. I thought, My god, I'm going to be standing here with the band vamping for hours. Afterwards there were hundreds of people outside the stagedoor waiting to say cheerio to me. It was so moving. I'll never forget it.
The production opened at the Kit Kat Klub (formerly the Henry Miller Theatre) in March 1998 and I performed until September, when I left to shoot the movie Titus in Rome. I then returned to the show in December at its new home, Studio 54. I left the show for good in June 1999. Cabaret finally closed on Broadway in January 2004.
I went on Light Lunch and 5's Company to talk about the Spice Girls movie, amongst other things, then here I am on Mariella Frostrup's show to promote Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
Next, I popped over the Irish Sea to Belfast to appear on Kenny Live, then I gave a gong to the lovely Judi Dench at the Scottish BAFTAs and rounded up the year with an appearance on This Morning, which showed a clip of Forbes Masson and I guesting on the show in 1995 as our flight attendants from The High Life.
Finally a short-lived MTV talk show Oddville.