His next step may be just as bold, although Hodge politely refuses to discuss rumors that he will play Willy Wonka in a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in London. It would be another memorable turn in a broad career.
Jamie Lloyd, who directed Hodge in “Inadmissible Evidence” at the Donmar Warehouse in London and is directing him in “Cyrano,” says Hodge’s versatility is no accident. “Whatever the role is, he just means what he says. He finds some kind of psychological truth, some kind of instinct from within that makes it true for him.”
Hodge, who lives outside Oxford in England, was playing ex-royal butler Paul Burrell in the film “Diana” opposite Naomi Watts when he got the call that “Cyrano” was waiting, courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Hodge, ever the researcher, quickly began looking at noses online and also real deformities, both accidents of birth and actual accidents. He read a forum for the disfigured and learned that strangers often unconsciously touch their faces when meeting scarred people, all fodder for his art.
“I suspect that everyone has a part of themselves that they hide, whether it’s that they sit with their arms folded because of their belly or they’re bald or a woman with her bum,” he says. “We might say to them, `It’s fine. You look great,’ but for them it isn’t.”
Hodge had his first prosthetic noses made in Britain and brought five over to America, becoming petrified when he walked by customs officials with what are “essentially obscene objects.”
“I was going, `Please, please, not me,’” he recalls. “Can you imagine, `Come over here, Mr. Hodge. Just what is that for? This bottle of glue, what’s that for?’” He says he feared being labeled “the nose bomber.”
Once he got onstage, the nose looked too circular and clownish. Hodge went back to the Internet to look up photos of folks like the actors Karl Malden and Jimmy Durante _ “people with great snozzles.” A cleft was put into the prosthetic and it was made more lopsided.
Hodge, who follows in some big nose-steps playing Cyrano including Kevin Klein, Gerard Depardieu, Derek Jacobi, Christopher Plummer and Steve Martin, says putting on the prosthetic helps the process. The creative team even says he seems sadder when it goes on.
“It does kind of make you feel, `Oh God,’” he says. “It sort of saddens your face, somehow. You have to hold your face in a different way, even your body, because you’re spatially different from the other person. You can’t be that close. You see people backing off.”
Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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