Jeff Daniels on the Terror of Returning to ‘Blackbird’
By Jeff Daniels
March 3, 2016
The first time I visited the Grand Canyon, I froze. Try as I might, it was too much to take in. As I neared the canyon’s edge, my confident stroll quickly slowed. My fear of heights was yanking on my reins. I may have whinnied. I grabbed the protective railing and squeezed with both hands. I looked down, down, all the way down to the bottom of the canyon floor. I took a picture, acknowledged my insignificance and vowed never to do anything remotely foolish in the eyes of Mother Nature.
In 2007, Lynne Meadow, the artistic director of Manhattan Theater Club, sent me “Blackbird,” David Harrower’s soul-scorcher of a play. Joe Mantello directed Alison Pill and me in a production that ran Off Broadway. Two characters — a man, Ray, and a young woman, Una — confront each other 15 years after their very illegal relationship, when he was 40 and she was all of 12. The play is brutally unforgiving and requires an emotional commitment that is difficult to rise to once, let alone eight times a week.