One of my favourite films is Peter Weir’s Dead Poet’s Society, in which Robert Sean Leonard features as the tortured Neil Perry who discovers his love of theatre and gets the lead in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “If I had my way, I would just do theatre, if it paid better,” Robert said in an interview prior to taking on the iconic role of Maycomb County lawyer Atticus Finch in Christopher Sergel’s stage adaption of Lee Harper’s seminal novel,To Kill A Mockingbird in the Open Air Theatre’s production in London’s Regent Theatre two years ago. He reprised the role when the production moved indoors to the Barbican for a month run, which finished last weekend. Initially he didn’t think it would work as a play, in fact he didn’t know the stage version existed. “The book and the film are so good, why do a play?” he said. Plus there was the ‘shadow’ of Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal in the 1962 film and taking on the role scared him. But he admitted he was wrong and told TimeOut it was “one my favourite things I have ever done.” It was favourite with the critics as well. BritishTheatre.com said,”perfection,complete with slightly crumpled lined three piece suite…it’s a magical performance that makes every other cast member’s job that much easier.” A three-time Tony Award nominee, Robert won in 2001 for his role as A.E.Houseman in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love. While this is testament to his theatre prowess and love for the stage over the screen, he was also part of the very successful TV series House,M.D for eight seasons, playing Hugh Laurie’s stoic sidekick Dr James Wilson.
Robert kindly signed my sketch for me on the last performance day at the Barbican.