I’m thrilled to know that The Public Theater is once again “putting this mosaic out into the world.” And that Ruben Santiago-Hudson has biracial kids. And that he speaks openly about it. Actually that’s not extraordinary, but I didn’t know that about him before. I love The Winter’s Tale. My favorite monologue is in it. If I weren’t too persnickety to wait in line for hours for tickets, I would be sure to see this. However, it’s not gonna happen. My loss, I’m sure. Just for clarification, the “yay” is for depicting a “non-traditional” marriage/family. Not for Hudson marrying a Swede and having mixed kids. Although I like that a lot too.
Actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his twins Trey and Lily attended the “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals” film premiere on February 17, 2010 in Westwood, California.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Tells the Tale
The actor discusses starring in the Shakespeare in the Park production of The Winter’s Tale.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson has been the epitome of excellence for over 30 years; winning a Tony Award for Seven Guitars, numerous honors for the HBO adaptation of his acclaimed solo play Lackawanna Blues, and plaudits for his direction of several shows including Things of Dry Hours and The First Breeze of Summer. This summer, he’s starring in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of The Winter’s Tale, and in the fall, he’ll be back co-starring on ABC’s hit crime drama Castle. TheaterMania recently spoke with Santiago-Hudson about these projects.
THEATERMANIA: What made you want to do The Winter’s Tale this summer rather than just take a nice breather between shooting Castle?
RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON: I just love the challenge of doing Shakespeare. I am part of the Public Theater family and I got a call to look at the play, and before I could even finish it, I said I’d love to do it.
TM: Your character, Leontes, is considered one of the most difficult in the canon, since you accuse your wife and best friend of infidelity without any seeming cause. How do you justify that?
RSH: It is a challenge to make that action comprehensible to the audience. But I look at the text. Polixenses may be my friend, but he’s stayed with my family for nine months — and I think if anyone stayed that long at my house, I’d find fault with them. And I am sure over that time, Leontes has seen some glimpses of unusual behavior — perhaps wearing less clothing around each other or laughing too loud.
TM: Still, you cause your wife to kill herself and banish your infant daughter. How is the audience supposed to sympathize with that?
RSH: I hope the audience sees that I balance my cruelty with much love and that my actions came from defending my honor and that my rage is from jealousy and madness. It’s important that I am not just being the stereotypical angry black man. And when it all comes clear, I’m the most penitent person — I’m almost a saint by the end of the play.
TM: As is typical of many productions at the Public, the cast is completely multi-racial. For example, your wife, Hermoine, is being played by Linda Emond, who is white. What are your thoughts about this?
RSH: I think it reflects the mirror of modern society. When you look in the newspaper, you see Sandra Bullock with a black child. And this play reflects what my real family looks like — my wife is Swedish and our children are biracial — so it’s great to put out this mosaic to the world. And I think we should put the best artists we can on stage, and what I love about the Public Theater’s audience is they feel the same way. They don’t care if the king is black and the queen is white; they’re out there to see this play done well.