There are 39 actors contending for Tonys this year — but only one nominee is also an ’80s TV icon who helped bring a football play (Lombardi) to Broadway and has an entire Community plotline dedicated to one of her sitcoms. Judith Light called EW recently to talk about the nod (her first), Lombardi’s closing, and reviving some of her classic characters.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve had a bittersweet few weeks — you learned you were nominated for a Tony and that your play was closing.
JUDITH LIGHT: It all happened in the same day. I found out about the Tony nomination in the morning and then I found out we were closing that night. So bittersweet is the accurate description of how I felt.
Were you hoping for a Tony nod?
My God, I absolutely was praying to be nominated. I am over the moon. It’s been a long time coming for me. I started in theater and I was in New York for several years doing only theater until I went into television. New York is the place of my heart, so to come back here and to do as many performances as we did in a play that not a lot of people thought would last and to be nominated on top of it is a blessing. I absolutely wanted to be nominated. I’m representing the team.
What are you going to next?
I’m waiting to hear about a pilot that I shot here in New York where I have a recurring part — we’ll see if that gets picked up and if it continues to shoot in New York. It’s for USA and it’s called Eden. And then I have a couple of other things I can’t actually talk about. I’ll go to see Jerusalem, War Horse, The Motherf—er with the Hat. I’ll be making the rounds catching up on the plays that I have not gotten to see, and the people that I’ve not gotten to see, as well — because when you have friends that are also in shows you don’t get to see them so often.
Are there any other nominees you’re rooting for?
I have to say, I’m actually rooting for the Tonys. I think they’re important and I want to people to watch them. I want people to know what it means to see Broadway shows and come to the theater. That’s been the amazing thing about Lombardi. Our producers, Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser, have brought a whole new audience into the theater. People have come to see sports and theater at the same time — it’s out-of-the-box thinking that’s been very special.
Will you be seeing their upcoming play about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson?
I certainly will be. I hope to be at opening night.
Which of your TV characters would you play again?
Oh, any one of them. I loved them all. I’ve had some incredible roles. I mean, if you’re talking about One Life to Live or Who’s the Boss or Law & Order. There isn’t one that I wouldn’t love to do again. They were written fantastically and I had a great time doing them all. I would happily go back. I was just talking to Vanessa Williams at the Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards [Light won Best Actress in a Play] about how much we miss our Ugly Betty family. It’s so true.
Have you seen the Community episode in which Abed takes a class on Who’s the Boss?
No, but I keep hearing about it. I remember when they asked me to sign off on it — they have to get permission from you if you’re willing to release your name and all that — and I thought, “I wonder what they’re going to do, that seems so funny to me.” I’ve heard it is hysterical, so I’m probably going to go on Hulu and see it. I did also hear that they decided that I was the boss, so that’s also pretty funny and quite brilliant.