He’s 24 (today, in fact), from Belfast. She’s 19, was born in a Texas town called Humble and grew up in an Oregon suburb called Happy Valley. This Sunday evening, both will sit in the audience at Radio City Music Hall, hearing their names read as, at least, Tony Award nominees. In their Broadway debuts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child‘s Anthony Boyle and Once On This Island‘s Hailey Kilgore have scored levels of acclaim and recognition few of their acting peers – or anyone, for that matter – could grasp. Deadline spoke to each about, among other things, what it’s like to be a Broadway star on the first attempt. Here are their words.
Couple things to know: If you haven’t seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Boyle, as the “purebred” wizard offspring of Draco Malfoy, occasionally does this Bobcat Goldthwait thing with his voice, when the character gets excited, that’s both hilarious and endearing.
As for Kilgore, remember she’s in the same Tony category as LaChanze, the actress who originated her Once On This Island character Ti Moune and is now performing as one of three Donna Summers in Broadway’s disco bio Summer.
ANTHONY BOYLE, 24
Scorpius Malfoy, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Tony Award Nomination: Best Featured Actor in a Play
Getting the call I was put up for various things in London, one of which was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My agent called and said, “Pack your bags, you’re going to London.” Thinking back on it, it’s crazy. I’m rehearsing Harry Potter and [my friends] are back at drama school. I’m like, Oh man, I hope I’m good.
Vocal wizardry I thought a lot about Scorpius Malfoy being purebred, with pure blood lines. Dogs that are purebred can develop throat problems, their larynx often swells and that causes breathing problems. They wheeze. So I gave that to Scorpius. It sounds quite clever when I say it now, but I’d tried some really sh*t things as well. I was just throwing everything against the wall. Rehearsal is an amazing time to fail. I think I had Scorpius stutter for a couple of days, and I’m sure he had a limp for a while.
Spellbound Because there’s fire [onstage], you have to be very careful. I say the next play I want to do will be a two-hander, just sitting on porch, maybe Chekhov, just chatting and drinking tea. No magic…It can be a real headf*ck at times.
He said what now? It’s my first [Broadway] play, and my first time in New York. I love it. The city is just filled with possibilities, man. It just opens up. I’ve never been in a place that pulses like this. You can feel an energy in New York. In Belfast you can feel an energy, but here it pulses on every corner. Last night I saw a guy who was chasing people with a pole, and someone called him “an HBO gangster.” I thought, Now what is that? So that’s my new thing, saying “HBO gangster.”
Bowie & Juliet I did the worst production of Romeo & Juliet. I based Romeo on Bowie. It was the worst…it was set on a chessboard. People got up and left. Shockingly bad. Just a really bad piece of theater. I based Romeo on Bowie because at that point I was 16? 17? and I just wanted to play Romeo like a horny 14-year-old, which at the time is what I thought he was. So I played Romeo as Bowie in Bowie’s Thin White Duke stage.
Has he seen the Bowie exhibit in Brooklyn? I don’t really have much free time. My family came over [from Ireland] and we went to Central Park and rode around on bikes. And we went to a [Tony-related] party and my little sister, who is 13, she just killed it, she just owned that party. Everyone loved her. She was dancing with everyone. To have her there, it was just a really lovely moment. It was their first time seeing America. Actually, not my dad’s first time. He came when he was 15 or 16 as part of the Children of the Troubles, a transfer program to see what life’s like not living in a war zone. He went to Seattle. It was the first time he had pizza. So when he came over to see me, he said, “They still got them dollars?” They do dad. And same pizzas we have in Ireland…
Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 6 Oh f*cking hell! You haven’t seen it, my tour de force? It was my first week at drama school. I flew back to Ireland to shoot for two days, and when I went in, the dialogue coach was like, We want you to do a Northern accent. And I was like, I can’t do a Northern accent. All I’d done was a Cockney accent, so I’m the only Cockney in Westeros. I’m one of the Bolton Guards. Everyone’s like [adopts whispery posh British accent, You know nothing Jon Snow, and I’m like [in thick Cockney], ‘ee’s naught in d’ dungeon. I looked like Dick Van Dyke in f*cking Mary Poppins. I watched it recently and cringed. Dire.
But I got a cool death. I get my throat cut by Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara Greyjoy. And she was so kind. It was my first day and I had no idea what I was doing. I had three lines and she was like, You want to run your lines, and I was like, Oh yeah cool. Thinking that was a normal thing. I look back now and she really threw me a bone. What a cool chick.
Outside Hogwarts I have the working class drama Come Home, in UK, and I’ve done a three-part Agatha Christie BBC series, Ordeal By Innocence. Bill Nighy plays my dad.
And then I have the Tolkien biopic at Fox Searchlight. Nicholas Hoult plays Tolkien. I play Tolkien’s best pal, the war poet Geoffrey Bache Smith, and that was a real honor, man. The first time I’ve played a real human being. I played a young Ian Paisley in The Journey but it was cut from the film so f*ck ’em.
Bloodlines My granddad had his hand damaged when he was younger, and the ligaments were all skewed. He wears a black glove. He was the first person I ever heard recite Shakespeare. When he was younger the Catholics couldn’t get an education….he worked in a library and just consumed books. One of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met. He can recite poetry and recite Shakespeare. And I remember him saying, “The midwife wonder’d and the women cried O’, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth.” And I was like, that’s f*cking cool, what’s that? He said Richard III [Henry VI, Part 3]. So we have this joke that when he dies I’m going to take his glove and play Richard as a living reincarnation of him. When something happens, he has a fall or he gets a cold, he’ll message me and say, “You’re one step closer.” I’ll ring him and go, “When can I put the glove on?”
From there to here When I was a kid I had a disease in my leg and couldn’t really walk properly. It’s called Perthes Disease, an erosion of the bone. It happens to young boys. So I couldn’t play sports. I come from a sporting family, so I would watch my brother and the other boys play football, soccer, from the window, and I would do their voices. I just started doing stuff like that. And then I was expelled from school when I was 16. I had a lot of creative energy and nowhere to put it, and my mom was like, You need to get a job.
I was doing a press thing for the Tonys recently, looking in to the lens of the camera , saying, “Hi, I’m Anthony Boyle and you’re watching CBS,” and next to me Denzel Washington is doing the same thing. And I was like, What is my life?? This is mad. But then you have to go [drops voice to nonchalant tone], “Oh, hello fellow nominee.” You have to just, like, adopt that. But I rang my brother that night and said, Me and Denzel are best mates!
HAILEY KILGORE, 19
Ti Moune, Once On This Island
Tony Award Nomination: Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Having fun yet? When I started out, I wanted everything to be perfect, I had to have both hands white knuckling everything. Then I really learned, with this show, that sense of like letting things go, letting them kind of just happen. Right now I’m in this really beautiful place where I know what I’m doing. My body knows what it’s doing.
Enter Ti Moune I was so lucky for my first preview and my first opening night. I get two entrances in the show, one at the top with the storm, and then I get my big entrance. So I get all my nervous energy out when I first get to cross that stage.
Actually, she can I can’t dance. I can’t dance. I have two left feet. As a little girl I took a program…in South African dance, drum, and art that I’d go to every summer. I actually did have a foundation for the basic movements, though our dance in the show is Afro-Haitian, Afro-Caribbean. So Camille sent me to some of the coolest dance instructors ever. I mean, I shouldn’t say I’m not a dancer because I’ve had the foundations, but when you move to New York and see people doing triple pirouettes, you’re like, No, I’m not a dancer.
Tony Season It’s so fun. We just had our big Tony nominee luncheon and I got to talk to everyone and meet everyone and hug everybody. And with all of the other award shows that are happening, we get to go and be together and be a community. A lot of people are taking me under their wing and really guiding me. Cynthia Erivo [The Color Purple] has been a big guiding light for me. And LaChanze [Tony nominated, in the same category as Kilgore, for Summer: The Donna Summer Musical] has been really, really supportive. In fact, all three Donnas over at Donna Summer have been very, very supportive. And Ashley Park from Mean Girls.
Broadway’s original Ti Moune LaChanze [Once on This Island, 1990] very clearly wants me to have my own experience with Once on this Island, and she’s been very supportive in that way. She’s especially been supportive about the day-to-day maintenance and taking care of yourself emotionally. If you don’t keep that in check, everything else can start to crumble around you. Being a young black girl in this business is an experience in itself, and LaChanze is just always encouraging me to use my voice and not be timid, and to not get overwhelmed or intimidated, because I deserve to be here just as much as everyone else. She’s beautiful, she’s a light.
After this island I’m getting to that weird place that every actor gets to, when it’s almost time to think about what’s next but the show is [still] the first priority. I’m starting to think about what’s next. It’s scary and exciting and there’s lots of cool stuff on the horizon. I don’t want to limit myself. I want to go wherever the wind takes me.