Michael Patrick Thornton
After his Broadway debut in Sam Gold’s Macbeth in 2022 with Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, Michael Patrick Thornton makes his second Broadway appearance as Dr. Rank, alongside Jessica Chastain and Arian Moayed in A Doll’s House. His acclaimed Chicago based theatre company, ‘Gift Theatre’, has given Michael some notable credits over the years, including King Richard in Richard III and Iago in Othello, among many others. His success has also seen him take his experimental improvisation show You & Me from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland. Read the full Q&A below and you’ll leave with some new music recommendations, and an insight into how seven-year-old Michael saw his future. We’re grateful that Michael and Paul carved out some time to join us On The Couch for our double episode.
What do you consider to be your best asset?
My sense of humor combined with the fact that I’ve experienced death makes for a pretty clarified point of view on what’s truly important and worth fighting for.
What was your proudest moment?
This is the question I waited to answer last. I wish I had better personal access to ‘proud.’ It’s honestly a fleeting feeling. I’m frequently, almost daily, grateful, awed, and determined. I’m proud of my cousin who’s gone through an absolute crucible of mental & physical health monsters. I’m proud of a former student who trained with my theatre company and recently made his debut with us. I’m proud of my parents’ marriage which is approaching fifty years and has survived, if not been strengthened, by my dad’s stroke. I’m proud of my marriage, which remains strong and inspiring as we briefly work apart in different cities. I’m proud of the artists I shepherded over the years as artistic director. But personally proud? That’s where it gets intangible. I had a really tough week last week. The shows were exquisite but depleting, I was fighting exhaustion and a deep, deep loneliness. I got home and literally just patted myself on the shoulder, which made me smile. That’s about as far as I get, personally, with ‘proud.’ It’s enough for me, I hope.
What is your favorite drink?
It’s a knife-fight to the death between black coffee & Pinot Noir.
What is your favorite food?
Bone-in ribeye cooked medium rare plus.
What is your favorite condiment?
Mayonnaise. For cooking? Fish sauce.
What is your current obsession?
Nun and pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru. Also, Hermanos Gutiérrez’s album El Bueno Y El Malo is absolutely mesmerizing.
If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
I’m a former Chicago altar boy, and therefore I have no vices.
What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
To answer this question truthfully would reek of shamelessness. But I honestly remember doing acceptance speeches in the shower at like seven years old with the shampoo bottle as the microphone.
What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
Haha, nice try, question #10.
What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
What’s the single best trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
To never judge someone’s intelligence or worth by their job.
What’s the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
That’s a tough one. I think all Irish-American families might tend to be a bit conflict-avoidant, so you have to be careful that grievances don’t quietly accumulate…they become poison.
What in the world most thrills you?
Bravely vulnerable and ambitious art. Scenes that, when acted in perfect harmony, obliterate all sense of time. I have the great fortune of both these occurring in A Doll’s House.
What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
So many want to be famous, few seem to want to have meaning.
What was the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced on the job?
I came this/close to running over Audra McDonald’s foot with a 300lb wheelchair from outer space on my first day of shooting Private Practice. So that was just great.
What is your favorite place in the world?
The bar-room, the rehearsal room, the bedroom.
What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
Are you trying to get me killed with this question? That her name is Lindsey Barlag Thornton, obviously. 🙂
Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
I’m Team Dog. #WoofWoof
What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
For all the loved ones I’ve lost over the years to be able to see the show tonight and hang out after.
What is your personal motto?
There’s only love.