EW Staff
June 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

AGE 56
MUSTWORTHINESS It took 12 years, but the Tony winner has finally exorcised the ghost of Clair Huxtable by playing matriarch Lena Younger — mom to Sean Combs’ character — in the hit Broadway revival of ”A Raisin in the Sun.” Almost unrecognizable in a ’50s housedress and stiff hairdo, Rashad gives Lena a soft heart and a spine of steel.
CONSCIOUSNESS RAISIN ”This play was first produced 45 years ago, and we can finally see how politically astute and ahead of her time the playwright was [Lorraine Hansberry wrote it at age 28]. Every person who sees it can relate to it, no matter what generation or ethnicity.”
ON HER MUST LIST ”Nicole Kidman is fabulous. I had the great fortune of meeting her backstage one evening and I said, ‘Child, why didn’t they give you the Oscar for ‘The Others?” That was an amazing performance.”
WHAT ABOUT BILL?”When we were doing the pilot for ”The Cosby Show,” he said, ‘You always come in on cue. I want you to take the time to look at me and trust that the audience is with you.’ That’s where the famous Clair Huxtable stare came from.”
NEXT The Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s ”Gem of the Ocean,” in which Rashad plays the 300-year-old Aunt Esther.

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