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Campbell Scott visits the world of Eugene O'Neill — with a twist

Jeff Vespa

If you ran into Campbell Scott on the street, you might find yourself wondering why you recognize him. The actor has been in a range of indie and big budget movies for decades, from starring in the Cameron Crowe classic “Singles” to more recent appearances in “Royal Pains” and as Richard Parker in the new “Spiderman” movies.

But he’s in Boston for a different reason than raising web slinging superheroes: He’s directing the Huntington Theatre’s new play by Ronan Noone, called “The Second Girl.”

The play takes as its inspiration Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” but instead of the famous Tyrone family, it follows the lives of the three servants who work for them.

“It is the environment of O’Neill’s play, but seen from a totally different angle,” says Scott. “It manages to be a real tribute and a real homage, but watching this play, you wouldn’t need to know the other play in any way. You’re still watching something that exists on its own merits.”

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The play explores the life of turn of the century Irish immigrants, and Scott says its dual American and Irish nature matches that of Noone, who was born in Ireland but has lived here for many years. Scott drew on his own Irish background as the director of the play, as well.

“There’s a real sensibility that is classically Irish, which is that kind of dark humor, and it’s lovely for me, because that’s the way I was raised. You dance around a bit around the darker areas of life. You don’t quite hit them head on. But at the same time, you’re making jokes about it too.”

Scott and Noone have collaborated before, when Scott was in Noone’s play “The Atheist,” and Scott says continuing to work with him has been a natural progression.

“You either meet someone you gel with or you don’t, and the ones you do, in this business, you keep coming back to.”

The show is a bit of a family experience all around, as Scott is married to one of the performers, Kathleen McElfresh. “So far it’s going all right. We still appear to be married,” Scott says with a laugh.

Getting starstruck

If you did recognize Scott on the street, you’d be in the minority. He says it doesn’t happen much, but he did have one experience unique to Boston.

“The other day, it was great, I thought, ‘Man, I’m really in Boston,’ because someone stopped me and said, ‘Why do I know you?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And she said, ‘Are you a scholar?’” says Scott. “And I thought, ‘Only in Boston, with all of these universities.’” We’re sure whatever lecture circuit doppelganger is out there would appreciate the comparison.

If you go

Jan. 16-21

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

527 Tremont St.

$25-72, 617-266-0800

www.huntingtontheatre.org

 
 
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