Like many tried-and-true New Yorkers, Amy Irving has a bone to pick with the Hamptons.

“The commute sucks,” she says emphatically.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Unfortunately for the actress, she’ll be spending the next few weeks in Montauk Highway traffic while appearing in “The Glass Menagerie” at East Hampton’s Guild Hall through July 26.

In the Tennessee Williams classic, Irving tackles the lead role of Amanda, a former Southern belle who can’t quite come to grips with the fact that she’s well past her prime. Her attempts to find a suitor for her emotionally immature daughter Laura only complicate matters.

“Amanda is a deeply felt woman. She is incredibly strong but terribly frightened of what the world is going to give her,” says Irving, whose “Menagerie” co-stars are relative newcomers Louisa Krause and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. “This is the meatiest role I’ve ever had in the best play I’ve ever been in.”

That’s a big statement coming from the 55-year-old, whose prolific career in television, theater and film includes everything from an Academy Award best supporting actress nomination (for 1983’s “Yentl”) to roles in Broadway productions of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and Arthur Miller’s “Broken Glass.”

Born in Palo Alto, Calif., to an actress mother and a stage-director father, the actress made her Broadway debut in “The Country Wife” at 12 years old. “I’ve been on the stage since I was a baby,” she says.

Her various credits even include a previous production of “Menagerie” at a theater festival in Santa Fe, N.M., 30 years ago in which her real-life mother played Amanda, while Irving was cast as Laura. “I wanted to create my own Amanda this time,” says Irving. “But there were some things my mother did that were just so damn good I had to steal them from her.”

But acting hasn’t been the only thing that has kept Irving in the public eye over the years. In the late Eighties, the actress made headlines for her messy divorce from Steven Spielberg, to whom she was married for four years. (Irving reportedly received a $100 million settlement after a judge nullified a controversial prenup that Spielberg had scribbled on a napkin.)

These days, Irving seems content where domestic matters are concerned. She’s a mother to two grown sons Max (dad is Spielberg) and Gabriel (from a relationship with Brazilian director Bruno Barreto) and is now married to documentary filmmaker Kenneth Bowser, whom she describes as “the man of my dreams.”

And traffic notwithstanding, she is enjoying her East Hampton stint, frequenting neighborhood watering holes Nick & Toni’s and The American Hotel in Sag Harbor (“Places I used to visit in my last incarnation,” says Irving, coyly referring to the time when she was married to Spielberg).

But Irving is by no means in vacation mode.

“When I’m on stage — whether I’m on the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., or Broadway. I get the same nerves, I have the same fears and I have the same passion to do it right.”

Guild Hall; 158 Main Street, East Hampton, N.Y.; 631-324-0806

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