In May this year, Jesse Eisenberg’s dark comedy THE SPOILS transferred from its New York premiere run to London’s Trafalgar Studios for a three month season. Not all the original cast ventured to the West End, but joining Jesse and THE BIG BANG THEORY’s Kunal Nayyar was Annapurna Sriram who played Reshma, Kunal’s pushy medical student girlfriend. Annapurna, or Anna or AP as she is often called, explained the reason for reprising her role. “Reshma is something I am really proud of – that’s my role, my baby. I didn’t like the idea of someone else doing it.” It’s her second visit to London, having spent time at The Globe studying Shakespeare after competing her Arts Degree from Rutgers University.
She came to prominence in the 2015 supernatural horror series SOUTH OF HELL and more recently as Tara Mohr, the hard-partying employee of US Attorney Chuck Rhodes played by Paul Giamatti in the Showtime hit TV series BILLIONS.
Brooklyn-based Annapurna is Indian-American, which she said has helped her acting career. “We’re in a day and age where being ethnically ambiguous – which is what I am – is a commodity”. I meet the very amiable Anna at the Trafalgar Studio’s stage door a couple of weeks before the play finished in mid-August, where she took a photo of my drawing then signed it for me.
Jesse Eisenberg’s third play, THE SPOILS explores the questions of privilege and the value of family and relationships. The off-Broadway transfer to London’s Trafalgar Studios opened this month to critical acclaim. Jesse, Kunal Nayyar and Annapurna Sriram reprised their roles from the original New York production, joined by Londoners, Alfie Allen and Katie Brayben.
Jesse’s breakthrough performance as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 film THE SOCIAL NETWORK saw him nominated for a Golden Globe, the BAFTA and an Academy Award. Kunal is best known as Raj Koothrappali in the CBS hit BIG BANG THEORY. Last year Forbes listed him as the third highest paid TV actor. Alfie plays Theon Greyjoy in the hugely popular GAME OF THRONES and Katie won the Oliver Award for her betrayal of Carole King in BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL. Brooklyn-based Annapurna was recently seen as host Nicky Tomalin in the sci-fi podcast THE MESSAGE which reached Number 1 on the iTunes Charts.
Jesse signed a sketch for me during rehearsals. This is another drawing of all five cast members, who all arrived at once on Saturday prior to the matinee. It was a bit like London buses, none for a while then five arrived at once, but they kindly took their turn to sign it for me.
Eight hours. 8 long hours. Written in words or numerically, either way it still spells out a l-o-n-g time to wait for an autograph. Actually it was 8 hours and a few minutes, waiting to get my sketch of the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nominated Hollywood star Jesse Eisenberg signed. But I did. It’s not my usual practice and not one I hope to make a habit of. Jesse is in London to make his West End debut as the dope-smoking, entitled, living of his wealthy parents, narcissistic bully Ben in the tragicomedy THE SPOILS, which he wrote and had its world premiere at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in New York’s Pershing Square Signature Center last summer.
“Engrossingly acted, impeccably staged,” wrote the New York Times.
The off Broadway transfer to London’s Trafalgar Studios starts on 27 May for a three month run. It’s Jesse’s third play, all of which have stated life on the off-Broadway boards.
We – a handful of fellow collectors – found out where he was rehearsing and duly waited nearby. But Jesse had to interrupt his rehearsals to fly to Cannes to do press for his latest film CAFE SOCIETY directed by Woody Allen. Then zap back to London. We thought he was already in the building and would finish at the customary time. That plan disappeared when he actually arrived at five and quickly slipped in without us having time to catch him.
One gets to a point in this business when one has invested time that one does not want to waste by ditching the mission. In other words it would be a waste of time if you didn’t stay to get the graph. But eight hours is a long investment. Thankfully it was a nice sunny day even though the pollen count was eight times higher than normal. It’s a recurring theme. SPOILS Sketch, sneezing and sharpie at the ready.
All was forgotten, well nearly all when we finally met meet Jesse. He thanked us for turning up and waiting. Truly one of the nicest in the business and he really liked the drawing, which is always a bonus.