This season, Jayne Houdyshell opens the door in a moment that’s a true highlight of the season. A Tony Award-winner for her stunning performance in Stephen Karam’s The Humans last year, Ms. Houdyshell is nominated once again this season for a tour de force as Anne Marie in Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2. Before these stellar few years, she was a Broadway Baby in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies and Madame Morrible in a little musical by the name of Wicked in 2006. Jayne is getting an encore On the Couch in this week’s Season Weekly, because, well, she’s Jayne Houdyshell, and because, above all, we love her!
What do you consider to be your best asset?
I can read people pretty well. The human condition fascinates me.
What was your proudest moment?
In retrospect, moving to New York. At the time however, I felt only terror.
What is your favorite drink?
A chocolate egg cream. I don’t have them often, but whenever I do, I always think, “Lord, why don’t I have these more often?”
What is your favorite food?
A nice cheese, tomato, and onion omelette.
What is your favorite condiment?
What is your current obsession?
“The Night Of.” Beautifully shot, wonderfully written and directed, and my God those performances! Each character is a fully realized human being worthy of their own series. I keep going back to various episodes to revisit scenes that knocked me out…. they all hold up with multiple viewings.
If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
That’s a trick question. I CAN give up anything. I think the real question is what am I not WILLING to give up. Smoking… so far I have not become willing.
What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
I keep toying with the idea of teaching. I think maybe I should.
What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
Thinking about my next meal.
What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
What is the single best trait you inherited or learned from your
From my Mother… strength and humor in adversity. From my Father….a genuine curiosity and interest in other people.
What is the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
From my Father… self doubt. From my Mother…social shyness.
What in the world most thrills you?
What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
What was the single most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced on the job?
Oversleeping and being late for a rehearsal of “Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd” …. it was my first season of summer stock… I was 19. The director really let me have it in front of the company… I was totally devastated and ashamed. Lesson learned.
What is your favorite place in the world?
Small towns that are dying. Attics and barns filled with forgotten objects. Abandoned farm houses that still hold remnants of past lives lived. Sounds morbid I know, but I think that by visiting those places it’s at least a way of
What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
Genuine kindness and respect… so much else springs from those qualities.
Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
While I really enjoy dogs, I gotta say I’ve always lived with cats. Their combined need for independence and affection is something I relate to.
What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
I already have it… I get to do a play I love with people I deeply respect. Any time that’s going on for me, I feel myself to be a most fortunate actor.
What is your personal motto?
Never believe my own press.