Samantha Barks is playing Vivian in the Broadway musical “Pretty Woman”. She talks about playing this character and getting to meet Julia on stage.
It’s not every woman who could pull on Julia Roberts’ thigh-high, vinyl boots night after night (and some afternoons), but Samantha Barks is doing just that in Broadway’s “Pretty Woman: The Musical.” The show opened last week to meh reviews, but many critics applauded the 27-year-old Brit’s performance as Vivian, the big-hearted hooker who brings a billionaire, Edward, to his knees. Although this is Barks’ Broadway debut, she toured the United Kingdom as “Cabaret” heartbreaker Sally Bowles and made an international splash as Éponine in 2012’s big-screen “Les Misérables.”
Between shows at the Nederlander Theatre, she talked about meeting her idol onstage, bonding with “Les Mis” co-star Russell Crowe — and what it’s like to play a “pretty woman” in the #MeToo age.
The movie came out in 1990, the year you were born. When did you catch it?
I must have seen it when I was 14 or 15 or 16. I was sooo in love with the movie and her … But I hadn’t watched the movie for a long, long time since I got this job. It’s not about trying to ignore that interpretation, but doing your own thing. The great thing about it now is the character’s talking through song, so that gives you a slightly different take.
Julia Roberts came to the show. What was it like having her in the house?
I didn’t know she was in — thankfully! How do we even do that show knowing she’s watching? So it was a big secret. [After the curtain fell], she came onstage and gave me the biggest hug. I swear to God, we stayed hugging for a minute! That was enough for me. This is her baby — she created this beautiful character, and I’m lucky I get to have a turn at it.
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