It's a 'Wonderful World' for Matthew Broderick

by Madeleine Marr

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

5 November 2009


MIAMI — Like his old pal Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick may need a day off. The former teen star, 47, is getting slammed for his performance in Broadway’s “The Starry Messenger.”

Meanies are saying his recent stage appearances have been pretty tepid due to a lack of prep. But insiders say Broderick may be taking the fall for his pal Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count on Me”), the play’s writer/director. Lonergan foes say it’s his fault that the new father of twins (he and wife Sarah Jessica Parker welcomed the girls via surrogate in June) is ill prepared.

From what we know — and it’s not a lot — Broderick had been rehearsing like mad. When we tried to contact the “The Producers” star last month to discuss his new movie, “Wonderful World,” playing this week at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, he was super busy, tucked away learning lines. The only time he could speak was 9 at night. That said, when reached, Broderick — though tired — was open, friendly and on top of his game.

In “Wonderful World,” he plays Ben, a folk singer turned unemployed sad sack who finds joy in a romance with an exotic woman (Sanaa Lathan). Snippets from our chat:

What drew you to the character?

“I was attracted to Ben’s humor, his eccentricity, his good heartedness, his paranoia. When I first read the script, it was hard to not think of writer-director Josh Goldin. Though I believe he’d say it’s a bit based on me. Josh and I have been good friends for about 20 years. We also grew up in the same circles; New York City, Upper West Side, lots of skepticism and bitterness.”

Did you learn guitar for the role?

“No, but I played cello as a boy. I did take some lessons for the movie, so I could at least fake it better, but that’s it.”

What about chess?

“I really was playing. Though it took the entire crew to figure out how to set things up so checkmate would happen at the right time, to the right person. Everyone thinks they know how to play chess, but it ain’t so easy!”

Did you really go to Africa?

“Spoiler alert! We shot those sequences outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. Really good food, though. No giraffes or lions or anything, but I did find it inspiring.”

You’ve done such varied roles. Have a favorite?

“I don’t like to think of a favorite role of my career, it might hurt the other roles’ feelings.”

How are the twins?

“Very well. They are pretty easygoing so far and we have great help. I’m not sure how one juggles three children and a career ... They are extremely cute, which helps.”

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