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Moving into the big leagues

Chris Sullivan didn’t make a name for himself on the football field. Instead, the actor made his reputation on the Chicago stage and during a national tour of “Defending the Caveman.”

Chris Sullivan didn’t make a name for himself on the football field. Instead, the actor made his reputation on the Chicago stage and during a national tour of “Defending the Caveman.” But now he’s ready for the big leagues — you can currently catch him in his Broadway debut as Jim Taylor, the Hall of Fame-worthy running back in “Lombardi,” which is based on the life of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.

Not only is this your first Broadway production, but it’s also the first play to have the NFL as the producing partner. How’s it going so far?

The show is going very well. The audiences have been reacting in amazing fashion every night. We have been surrounded by football fans and theater fans alike. The NFL’s involvement has been as a production entity. They have provided us with all of the research material we need.

Have you spoken to Jim Taylor about portraying him?

I met Jim Taylor on opening night and he is thrilled with the play and with my portrayal of his character. That is the only review that mattered to me. I’m glad I was able to do him justice.

How would you define Taylor’s and Lombardi’s relationship? Did that inform your performance?

Taylor and Lombardi were a rare pairing. Lombardi never had anything to yell at Taylor because Taylor was always working harder than anybody else on the field. Taylor cared about winning just as much as Lombardi did, but he demanded to be treated fairly.

A point is made about Lombardi being the most imperfect perfect man. Which aspect of his story moves you the most?

Lombardi is famous because he is a champion, and he made a lot of the people that came in contact with him better people. What moves me about his story is the sacrifice that comes along with that. There is no story in the history of great triumph that is free of great sacrifice. Lombardi’s family suffered because of his passion for the game and his passion for perfection.

 
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