First-Time Tony Nominee: Richard Kind returns to the stage and receives a Tony nod for ‘The Big Knife’

Richard Kind.

Richard Kind.

Richard Kind is known for his long-spanning roles on television hits Mad About You and Spin City, as well as for recurring roles on other popular series such as Scrubs and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Kind is hardly a strange face to audiences, and it seems that nearly anyone who hears him mentioned associates him with a specific character or another. But after Sunday night, he might also add “Tony winner” to that list.

Kind is nominated for his portrayal of studio executive Marcus Hoff in The Big Knife and there is no doubt that he earned his nomination.

While his television credits, both on live-action and animated shows, are extensive, The Big Knife was hardly his first foray onto the stage.  He has appeared in several plays on and off-Broadway, including Stephen Sondheim’s Bounce (in which he originated the role of Addison Mizner), The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, The Producers and Sly Fox.  However, on stage, as on film, Kind is most often associated with comedy, but anyone hoping to get a laugh out of his character in The Big Knife may have come away a bit surprised.

The Big Knife, a Clifford Odets play, which has been most memorably performed as a film noir adaptation in 1955, is at times bitingly funny, but is not the out-and-out comedy that television viewers may associate with Kind’s work.  This becomes especially evident once Kind’s character, a megalomaniacal, micromanaging studio executive makes his appearance.  Kind plays the role with calculation and an almost chilling casual disregard for the rights of the people under him.

The competition for the Best Featured Actor in a Play category is especially tight, with two strong nominees from Golden Boy (another Odets play), and powerful performances from both Billy Magnussen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Courtney B. Vance (Lucky Guy), and despite his win at the Drama Desk Awards, Kind’s chances of winning seem very slim, with it being far more likely that Golden Boy’s Tony Shalhoub will take home the Tony.

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