It’s been nearly two years since Nathan Stewart-Jarrett landed the part of Belize in “Angels in America,” and, though grueling, it’s yet to get old.
“You know, it’s weird, because it’s still really hard, and at the same time actually I think it’s getting easier,” he says. “Your body starts to get used to it, so you think you’re tired, but actually doing more, and you know, you just kind of adapt to it.”
Stewart-Jarrett describes bringing the show to New York as a “kind of a homecoming,” for a play so deeply set in the city. “I think that made the way for nerves, but it’s such an American play; everyone has read it. It’s really nice sharing that moment with people that are so knowledgeable about these characters and this pain.”
The revival’s success has been marked by the poignancy in its messages; despite being debuted by Tony Kushner in the early Nineties, its subject matter has a relevance today that adds a new power to its messages.
“It’s still very, very pressing. And it’s rare for a piece of work,” Stewart-Jarrett says. “I think it’s also sad that certain things haven’t changed. Not to go into it, because I really don’t want to, but if you just look a the recent headlines…something happens in the world, and there’s a part that sets in the [consciousness] that touches on it.”
The English actor was raised in South London and transitioned to an art school after growing “bored” with traditional schooling. “My cousin went to this performing arts school in South London, and she was like, ‘you should go.’ And I was like, you know, ‘I should go, I really don’t want to wear this uniform,’” he says. “I knew I couldn’t draw, I really can’t sing, and I was like, ‘what can one do at a performing arts school if they can’t draw or they can’t sing?’ And it was acting. I could act.”
Stewart-Jarrett got the role of Belize, ex-boyfriend and best friend to Prior Walter (Andrew Garfield) and nurse to Roy Cohn (Nathan Lane), after a lengthy audition process. “By the fourth one, I was like, if I don’t get this, I might just die,” he recalls.
The play’s New York return has found many fans in the fashion audience, including Matthew Adams Dolan, who Stewart-Jarrett has worked with throughout the Tonys season.
“He’s got a good sense of fun that I like in fashion,” Stewart-Jarrett says about the designer. “There is something that I like about fun. I also did that at drama school; we would do a heavy Russian phase, which I honestly at that point didn’t understand. And so I spent a lot of time looking out the window and secretly reading iD when I should’ve been reading my assignments.”
His love for fashion was also informed by trips with his cousin to factory stores outside London as a kid. “They’d all have stuff and you could go and get clothes, she kind of gave me this love of like clothes and fashion,” he says. “I don’t really like the extra stuff, like all the parties. I’m really just about the clothes and the fabrics and whatever, and just feeling nice. I think it’s something that’s also been with me for a while.”
Come Sunday, Stewart-Jarrett will be dressed by Thom Browne for the big night.
“I’m different — I mean, it’s black-tie, so I’ll have to toe the line, but I could spice it up,” he says. “It’s nice to look formal once in a while, but I just think have a little fun or break the rules here.”
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