On June 12, 2011, The Actors Fund’s Annual Tony Awards®Viewing Party returns to celebrate its 15th year of bringing the excitement of Broadway’s biggest night to our friends in Los Angeles. Hosted by Marilu Henner, this year’s gathering will honor the astonishingly talented Hal Holbrook with The Fund’s Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement, which will be presented by Sean Penn, writer and director of Into the Wild, for which Holbrook earned his most recent Academy Award nomination. In advance of the festivities, Mr. Holbrook has graciously taken the time to answer a few of our questions.
Actors Fund: What does it mean to be receiving The Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement?
Hal Holbrook: There is no recognition that means more to me than what I get from my fellow actors. I prize this profession above all others and the actors in it, and Julie Harris is a rare diamond among us.
AF: You've appeared in countless productions and have touched the lives of so many people. Why do you think an organization like The Actors Fund is such an important part of the industry?
Holbrook: Very few actors can build the financial resources for disasters or support in their elder years that people in other high profile professions are able to do. We have to take care of our own. They are family.
AF: You've also received an amazing array of awards, but many people say their favorite Hal Holbrook performance is your one-man play Mark Twain Tonight, for which you won a Tony. I'm sure you know that Mark Twain supported The Fund, too, most famously opening the 1907 The Actors Fund Fair at The Metropolitan Opera House. If you had the chance to sit down and discuss the industry with him today, what do you think he'd say?
Holbrook: I think Mark Twain would reiterate some of the things he said so eloquently about the service that an actor performs for the public heart and mind. As he did in the thunderous blast at a Brooklyn pastor who refused burial to a revered member of The Players Club. He fried the preacher in oil.
AF: Looking back, are there any other projects you've done that stand out as favorites?
Holbrook: My answer is yes. The Senator, Commander Bucher in Pueblo, Lincoln, King Lear, Shylock and anything I did with Dixie.
AF: You've just appeared in Water for Elephants, and have a few things in the works like Steven Spielberg'sLincoln. What's next for you?
Holbrook: My answer is this: Who knows?
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