For Brian J. Smith, there’s nothing quite like performing live. He’s been spending some time onscreen lately in the Netflix science fiction series Sense8, which has been picked up for a second season, and he’s thrilled to be back onstage in The Glass Menagerie. Smith last appeared on Broadway in John Tiffany’s production and he’s revisiting the play and production with his Broadway and now West End co-star Cherry Jones. The play is currently running at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London. “It’s better than sex,” the actor says of live theatre.
Broadway Style Guide caught up with Smith to talk about his roots, his workout regime, and what a night on the town looks like for him and Jones.
You’re about to head to London for your West End debut in The Glass Menagerie. What’s your idea of a perfect London afternoon?
Hyde Park is my favorite place in London, so I bet some of those afternoons I’ll be wandering around there with a coffee and some good music, just getting lost. I like to stay active when I’m doing theater and getting in a good workout is my therapy. You can find me either doing some power yoga or on a run along the Thames if it’s not raining.
What’s your idea of the perfect night out with your co-star Cherry Jones? What trouble do you foresee yourself getting into?
I’m sure we’ll find some watering hole near the Duke of York’s Theatre, some pub with a fancy name and good martinis. Cherry’s partner, Sophie, will be flying out quite often to visit and the three of us always make it a great night—especially if there’s a good steak involved. We might push the hours a bit if it’s a Saturday night since Sunday is our day off.
If you could tuck away somewhere quaint and never be bothered again, where would you be and what five essential items would you need to keep yourself busy?
I’d find myself a cabin in the Appalachian Mountains with a clear view west. All I would need would be a dog, access to Spotify, good speakers, a yoga mat, and my iPad loaded with great books.
You have a great Instagram following. What’s your guiltiest pleasure on Instagram?
I’m camera shy as hell, so I actually prefer not to be in the pictures, but I know people follow your Instagram to see YOU, not just photos of latte art and sunsets. Still, I love taking really carefully composed shots of city scenes at night, especially if it’s been raining, with a John Grimshaw vibe. My dog, Cassie, makes quite a few memorable appearances as well. I’ve had to have more than a few of her teeth pulled, so her little tongue hangs out a bit, but she couldn’t care less. She loves the camera.
You and your castmates show some skin in your Netflix show, Sense8. What is your secret to staying in camera ready shape?
A really strong daily yoga routine with a few days of strength training thrown in between. I think a ratio of 3:1 is ideal. Also, I’ve found some great videos on YouTube by this kid named Brendan Meyers, and his ab routines are killer and usually last less than six minutes. That’s all you need—otherwise you start to blow up and can look too bulky. It’s taken me a while to find that balance.
You’re originally from Texas. What do you love and/or hate about being from the Lonestar State?
There are a surprising number of Texans in the industry. A disproportionate number, actually. I’ve always wondered about this. I think it’s because Texas is such a tangle of contradictions, and Texans like myself who work in the arts bring this to the table. We’re dependable, we’ve been raised well, we don’t like to rock the boat. But we’re also competitive, and there’s a sense of guilt or shame that I can’t quite explain.
If you could emulate another actor’s career, whose would it be and why?
Cherry Jones—without a doubt. She’ll tell you, and I believe her, that she’s the actress she is today because of all those years she spent away from New York at American Repertory Theatre, playing the great parts and touring and falling in love and learning without the pressure of having to have a TV or film income right away. All of that—and of course that mysterious thing she’s got. Call it magic. But she’s happy, and she’s got a great life and she is so loved by everyone she works with and who has had a chance to see her perform. She’s taught me so much, and I still can’t believe I get to spend a few moments with her onstage every night.