Bill Pullman comes to rescue 'The Other Place'

MARK KENNEDY AP Drama Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bill Pullman was hoping to come back to Broadway, just not exactly this way.

The film star and current U.S. president on NBC's "1600 Penn" found himself a few weeks ago frantically memorizing the script for "The Other Place" so he could replace the actor Daniel Stern. He had just five days to learn his lines.

"I've never done this before," he said at an empty lounge before a recent performance of Sharr White's play at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. "No process. Just product."

Somehow, he did it, even as he suffered through a cold. He learned the blocking in his apartment, watched Stern in two performances and had two short rehearsals with co-stars Laurie Metcalf and Zoe Perry. He then did one full show Feb. 5 behind closed doors. That night he made his debut, swallowing his coughs and his nose streaming.

What has he learned about himself through this roller coaster? "That I'm still flexible," Pullman says with a big laugh. "And you can overcome all the fear."

"The Other Place" is the story of a brilliant researcher in her early 50s who is wrestling with an unnamed neurological disease. Over the course of the play, what's real and what's not collapse in a heap.

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