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    Arlene Dahl, Movie Star Turned Entrepreneur, Is Dead at 96

    She had already started branching out when her film career was at its height, writing a syndicated column and launching a fashion and cosmetics business.Arlene Dahl, who parlayed success as a movie actress in the 1940s and ’50s into an even more successful career as an author, beauty expert, astrologist, and fashion and cosmetics entrepreneur, died on Monday at her home in Manhattan. She was 96.The death was confirmed by her husband, Marc Rosen.Strikingly beautiful, Ms. Dahl was a model before becoming an actress — “considered one of the world’s loveliest gals,” The Daily News of New York wrote in a profile in 1959, using the parlance of the day.With her fiery red hair, she was a natural for Technicolor; she notably played the seductive sister of another famous redhead, Rhonda Fleming, in the 1956 crime drama “Slightly Scarlet.” But though she demonstrated her range in everything from westerns, like “The Outriders” (1950), to the Red Skelton comedies “A Southern Yankee” (1948) and “Watch the Birdie” (1950), critics tended to focus on her looks more than her acting.“Arlene Dahl is displayed to wondrous advantage,” declared one review of the 1953 adventure “Diamond Queen.”The industry did the same.“Arlene Dahl was another classic case — like Jane Greer and Evelyn Keyes — of a smart, fiercely funny woman being pigeonholed by her beauty,” Eddie Muller, who organizes an annual film noir festival in San Francisco, said in an interview in 2009, when Ms. Dahl was the event’s guest of honor. “It was hard for her to break out of the ‘redheaded bombshell’ mold.“The great thing about Arlene,” he continued, “is that she didn’t let it bother her. She moved easily into other businesses and always seemed to be enjoying herself.”Ms. Dahl in the 1956 crime drama movie “Slightly Scarlet.” With her fiery red hair, she was a natural for Technicolor.RKO, via PhotofestMs. Dahl had already started branching out when her film career was at its height.In 1951, she began writing a beauty column, titled “Let’s Be Beautiful,” for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, which she would continue for 20 years. She had personally been recruited by Robert R. McCormick, the publisher of The Tribune, who, she said, “had an idea that if a girl like me would tell women how to be beautiful, they’d believe it.”She soon founded a cosmetics and lingerie company, Arlene Dahl Enterprises, and would later write a syndicated astrology column as well as numerous books on both astrology and beauty.These ventures kept her in the public eye long after she had left Hollywood and settled on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. And though acting was no longer her focus after the early 1960s, she was seen into the 1990s on television shows like “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “Renegade.” She also appeared on Broadway in 1972, when she took over the lead role in “Applause,” the hit musical based on the 1950 movie “All About Eve.”Ms. Dahl wrote numerous books on astrology and beauty, including this one, which combined them.Arlene Carol Dahl was born on Aug. 11, 1925, in Minneapolis. Her father, Rudolph Dahl, was a car dealer. Her mother, Idelle (Swan) Dahl, died when Arlene was a teenager. With her father’s blessing, she then moved to Chicago, where she modeled for the Marshall Field’s department store, before relocating again, this time to New York City, where she continued to work as a model while pursuing acting.In 1945, she landed a small part in a short-lived Broadway musical, “Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston.” The next year, while appearing in Philadelphia in “Questionable Ladies,” a play that would close before making it to Broadway, she was spotted by the movie mogul Jack Warner, who invited her to Hollywood for a screen test. Ms. Dahl began her movie career with Warner Bros., but soon moved to MGM, the leading studio of the day, where she first attracted notice with supporting roles in movies like “The Bride Goes Wild” (1948) and “Scene of the Crime” (1949). She became a regular presence in the Hollywood gossip columns as well; after dating, among many other men, the young John F. Kennedy, she had two well-publicized marriages to fellow actors.She and Lex Barker, who played Tarzan in the late 1940s and early ’50s — and who, she told People magazine, was the “most handsome man I’d ever seen” — divorced in 1952 after a year and a half of marriage. Two years later, she married the Argentine actor Fernando Lamas.That marriage was tempestuous. The two had many public spats and several reconciliations meant to preserve the union — for the sake, Ms. Dahl said at the time, of their son, Lorenzo Lamas, who would go on to have a successful acting career of his own — but they ended in failure.Ms. Dahl with her son, the actor Lorenzo Lamas, and his wife, Shauna Sand, in 1997. Albert Ortega/Getty ImagesMs. Dahl and Mr. Lamas divorced in 1960. She would marry four more times. She married Mr. Rosen, a perfume bottle designer, in 1984. In addition to him, she is survived by Lorenzo Lamas; a daughter, Carole Delouvrier, from her third marriage, to Chris Holmes; another son, Stephen Schaum, from her fifth marriage, to Rounsville Schaum; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.Many of Ms. Dahl’s ideas about beauty seem quaint at best today, but they were the key to her initial success as a writer. “Women are fast losing femininity, their proudest possession,” she said in a 1963 interview, “and I think it is important to tell them what men think so they will not lose what is most desired.”She had comparable success later when she started writing about astrology.While she was passionate about the subject — one interviewer wrote that she wanted to know his sign before she would agree to sit down with him — Ms. Dahl stopped short of claiming that astrology could predict the future.“I liken astrology to a weatherman who forecasts the weather,” she said in a 2001 CNN interview. “If the weatherman says it’s going to rain tomorrow, you get up in the morning and you look out, and you see that it’s cloudy and it’s likely to rain, so you take an umbrella if you don’t want to get wet. Well, it’s the same thing with astrology.”Alex Traub contributed reporting. More

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    Joaquina Kalukango and Amanda Williams on Creative Freedom

    The “Slave Play” actress and the Chicago-based artist discuss generational gaps, success and the art that brought them each acclaim.What does it mean for an artist to be free? And what does that freedom look like for a contemporary Black artist? Amanda Williams has recently been asking herself these very questions. A Chicago-based visual artist who trained as an architect, Williams, 47, is known for her pieces exploring the nuances of color, both racial and aesthetic. Her breakout work was “Color(ed) Theory,” a 2014-16 series in which she painted eight condemned houses on Chicago’s South Side in vivid, culturally coded shades, such as “Ultrasheen,” a dark turquoise that matches the hue of a Black hair-care product, and “Crown Royal Bag,” a purplish pigment that mirrors the packaging of a popular whisky.In a 2018 TED Talk, Williams discussed how we perceive color — specifically, how our perceptions are determined by context. One example, she said, was redlining — federal housing maps from the 1930s marked neighborhoods inhabited by Black Chicagoans as red, contributing to policies that prevented many residents from securing loans — which weaponized color and resulted in underinvestment. When the actress Joaquina Kalukango, 32, heard the speech, she was awe-struck. Kalukango is no stranger to powerful works of art: Last year, she received a Tony nomination for best leading actress in a play for her work in Jeremy O. Harris’s searing, passionately debated drama “Slave Play,” which is set on a plantation and follows a trio of modern-day interracial couples whose relationships are stymied by conflicting views on race.One rainy morning in October, Kalukango met Williams at the latter’s studio in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Kalukango was days away from starting a Chicago run of “Paradise Square,” a musical about the 1863 Manhattan draft riots, in which Irish immigrants turned on the Black neighbors with whom they’d previously peacefully coexisted. (It’s headed to Broadway early next year.) Meanwhile, Williams is expanding on “What Black Is This, You Say?,” an ongoing, multiplatform series of abstract paintings inspired by cultural touchstones and observations related to the Black experience that she showed at Art Basel in Miami Beach this month.Amid laughter, Williams and Kalukango talked generational differences, the desire to be “regular” and the blurry line between artistic genius and madness.AMANDA WILLIAMS: Twenty twenty was a mess. I was contemplating Kool-Aid [the subject of one of her latest paintings] and laughing about it, and then the whole world was like, “How are you feeling about being Black, segregation and systemic racism?” People were like, “I want to help, right this minute.” I thought, “I don’t know how I feel right now. I was actually doing something else, and now I’m going to cry.” It’s a little easier now. We’re farther away from it. How did that feel for you?JOAQUINA KALUKANGO: It’s interesting, because “Slave Play” opened [on Broadway in October 2019] before the country had its racial awakening. There was a lot of aggression toward our production. There was a lot of pushback, specifically within the Black community. [Some who had seen the play, and many others who hadn’t, found it offensive in its use of antebellum role play and inappropriately sexually graphic; one online petition calling for the show’s shutdown referred to it as “anti-Black sentiment disguised as art.”] But after audiences saw the show, there was so much conversation. On the streets, people would come up to me and talk about it. That was affirming. It was also exhausting. The greatest thing that helped me was when we had a “Black Out” night — the audience was all Black. I heard the show in a different way: It was funny. There was this release of Black people finally being able to feel like this show was for them, as opposed to sitting next to someone and wondering, “Why are you laughing at this?” How can we get Black people to feel free regardless of who’s sitting next to them? How can we fully enjoy ourselves in situations and experience art without feeling like other people are watching us? It’s always a struggle.Kalukango in “Slave Play” at the Golden Theater in New York City, in September 2019.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesA.W.: I’ve thought a lot about the freedom question. Take Kanye West. He’s obviously experiencing some mental health issues. But also, he has a level of mastery and talent that borders on complete freedom. He says inappropriate things, and maybe he doesn’t even understand what freedom is. But if you’ve ascended beyond practically any other brown human you’ve ever met, and you can buy Wyoming, isn’t that free? [West has purchased two huge ranches there.] He just does what he wants. [For the listening party for “Donda,” his recent album named after his mother, who died in 2007,] Kanye was like, “I’m going to recreate my mom’s house in [the Chicago Bears stadium] Soldier Field.” Everybody was confused. But I thought, “This could be a mental moment, but it’s also pure creativity.” Every artist who you might say is the most free, in terms of pushing their craft to the edge, is always called crazy.J.K.: Did anyone tell you, early in your career, that you had to work within certain boundaries? Did you feel pressure to be a certain type of artist?A.W.: I trained as an architect [at Cornell University]. My parents were in a panic that I might be an artist. They were like, “Artists who make money are called architects.” In a sense, that was a boundary. Then, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area right at the height of the dot-com boom. The economy was great. Projects were bountiful; jobs were plentiful. I was able to live out this architectural career that I thought would take 30 years in five or six. Then I had a boss who said, “If you could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?” She thought I was going to say, “Taking over your company.” And I said, “Painting.” She encouraged me to try it. And the Bay Area lent itself to that. Everybody had an idea. Google was born when I lived in the Bay. That kind of environment helped me take the leap.If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t. I’d be like, “What if it doesn’t work? How am I going to eat?” But back then, I was just like, “Oh, I’ll eat some avocados, it’s California.” There’s no moment I remember when somebody said I couldn’t do it. Well, I’m sure there was, but I blocked it out. My friend and I were just talking about how our generation tended to dismiss racist comments or sexual advances. We just kept moving. Your generation does not tolerate nonsense. Is that how it feels?J.K.: Definitely. The new show I’m in, “Paradise Square,” is a musical that has been in development for a long time. There was always a struggle to figure out whose lens the story should be told through. Now, it finally centers around this free Black woman in New York who owned a bar in 1863 [Nelly Freeman, the role Kalukango is playing]. We have an E.D.I. [equity, diversity and inclusion] person who talks about terminology. One day in rehearsal, an assistant said, “Joaquina, we’re not going to say the L-word in this sentence.” I was like, “ ‘Let’? ‘Listen’? ”A.W.: Which “L”?J.K.: It was “lynch.” I said, “What? We’re just not going to say this?” But the idea was, we don’t have to say that word until it’s absolutely necessary. I thought, “Well, this is a whole new way of being, even for me. That word doesn’t bother my spirit, but it’s bothering other people’s spirits.” It’s a different world from when I was growing up in Atlanta.Loren ToneyA.W.: How does that impact your craft? Does it trip you up to have to be mindful of words in a way that maybe you hadn’t been before?J.K.: We’re all more careful. Everyone’s fragile. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and so many issues have come up for so many people. We’re all giving each other a lot of care and grace in this new era that we’re trying to build, this new era of theater we’re trying to make. But it’s a bit of a struggle, I’ll be honest. When you do work that’s specifically about a very troublesome time — and if you look at the Jan. 6 riot [at the U.S. Capitol], it’s similar to the draft riots — you can’t sugarcoat it. You can’t run away from it. It’s always a balance of, how do you tell a story without traumatizing our community?T: When did you first encounter each other’s work?J.K.: I first saw Amanda’s work in her TED Talk.A.W.: Oh my God. I had wondered, how did you find out about me? How do you know who I am?J.K.: I had such a visceral reaction to “Color(ed) Theory.” All of it was so much a part of my life, my childhood. Plus, I just love colors. How did you get that concept? What inspired you?A.W.: I grew up on Chicago’s South Side and crossed town every day to go to school. Chicago segregation, coupled with the city’s grid, is perfect for systemic oppression because it sets boundaries, and then we mentally reinforce them. I was hyperaware of color all the time, as in race, thinking, “That’s a Mexican neighborhood.” “Chinese people are there.” “White folks do this.” Things like that. And I’ve loved [chromatic] color since birth. Then I learned about color in an academic setting.One summer, while [I was] teaching color theory, a friend joked, “They pay you money to teach people what? Red and blue is green?” I said, “No, color theory is a whole science.” She said, “You know colored theory.” We laughed and I left it alone. A week or two later, I thought, “I do know colored theory.” I spent another few years making sense of it. It seemed so juicy. I started to think, “What things make you think of the color first?” There’s a story I told in the TED Talk: I met a gentleman who grew up near the “Crown Royal Bag” house. He thought the purple house meant Prince was coming. Even after I told him about my art, he said, “You wait and see. Prince might show up and perform right here.” Suddenly, he had hope for that vacant lot, in a way that maybe he didn’t before. To me, that was success.J.K.: It was brilliant.A.W.: At first, I wasn’t as familiar with your work, but when I started to look into it, I was like, “How could I have missed all of this? These are the exact same things I’m thinking and talking about.” I’m excited about how we translate these thoughts across mediums — theater, performance, music, architecture, sculpture, writing.Williams’s “Color(ed) Theory: Pink Oil Moisturizer” (2014-16).Amanda WilliamsWilliams’s “Color(ed) Theory: Crown Royal Bag” (2014-16).Amanda WilliamsT: You both have long been working artists, but your breakout pieces — “Slave Play” and “Color(ed) Theory” — made you famous. Has that affected your work? Do you feel an added responsibility now?J.K.: An actor starts off auditioning for nearly everything. We’re told “no” 99 out of 100 times. Initially, the roles I took were just what ended up coming to me. But I also believe that what’s for you is for you. When you’re on a path that you’re aligned with, more things start coming your way. Now I am adamant that Black women see many facets of ourselves, that we are depicted with a wide gamut of emotions: the unflattering and unraveling parts but also joyful and loving, peaceful and gentle. I want it all for us, at every possible moment. I’m trying to ensure I show Black women as full human beings — not stereotypes, not archetypes. We’re not strong all the time. Yes, our ancestors had to survive, but there was always joy in the midst of all that pain.A.W.: You also have to give yourself permission to be an artist. That’s hard because there is a burden. You know how few people have the same opportunities, so you always want to make sure you’ve done justice. At the same time, you have to take the pressure off. Our society thinks about the home run, the slam dunk — the idea that each thing you do must be better than the last. But if you look at any creative being’s full oeuvre, there are ups and downs. Artists have to continue to understand themselves and improve their craft for themselves. It makes me think of this great artist Raymond Saunders, who lives in the Bay Area. He taught an advanced painting class, and I was teaching at the same school, so he invited me to his class. I went — and the students were eating handmade pastries from this beautiful boutique in Berkeley or something. I’m like, “What is this?” And they’re like, “He told us he can’t teach us how to paint, he can teach us how to live.” It was mind-blowing. Maybe we don’t have to nail it every single week of every year. Maybe we just nail it every five years. Maybe we can sleep one of those years.J.K.: I always think, “Do we ever have the space to be mediocre and figure things out?” I don’t want to be Black girl magic every day. Sometimes I want to be regular. Just regular Black. [All laugh]A.W.: Regular Black. I’m going to make a painting based on that.T: How do you two define success right now?A.W.: Just being the best me. I don’t worry so much if my work is well received or if it garners accolades. That sounds so cheesy. My husband jokes, “Well, that’s nice to say after you’ve gotten the accolades.” [All laugh]J.K.: I love originating and creating new roles. For me, success is knowing that there are girls coming up who can use work I’ve done as audition pieces for colleges. In “Slave Play,” my character, Kaneisha, has a 10- or 15-minute monologue. She takes up space for almost the entire last act. I’d never seen anything like it onstage before. For a long time, it was hard to find material or scene work that included multiple Black characters. It was hard finding those plays [when I studied at the Juilliard School]. It’s all about the next generation for me. If at any point I can make someone feel more free, more confident in their abilities, that’s the win.This interview has been edited and condensed. More

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    Five Child Stars of 'King Richard,' 'Belfast' and More

    Five children winning acclaim for their roles in “Belfast,” “King Richard,” “C’mon C’mon” and “The Tender Bar” talk us through their starring turns.Jude Hill, clad in a white button-up shirt with a cheeky grin, is just as charming in real life as he is in “Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh’s new autobiographical film about an Irish boy growing up amid the Troubles in the title city in the 1960s.“I had the time of my life doing this film,” the 11-year-old actor from Northern Ireland, who stars as Buddy, the young Branagh stand-in, said in a recent video call from Los Angeles.He’s one of several youngsters winning praise for their starring turns in prestige dramas this season. They include Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, who play Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard” opposite Will Smith as their father; Woody Norman, who tag-teams with Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”; and Daniel Ranieri as a boy learning about life from a bar-owning uncle (Ben Affleck) in the George Clooney-directed drama “The Tender Bar” (due Dec. 17).In phone and video calls this month — Hill, Norman, Sidney and Singleton from Los Angeles, and Ranieri from Brooklyn — the five actors shared what it was like working with stars of the screen and court, behind-the-scenes stories and how they reacted to seeing their faces on posters for the first time. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.Jude HillThe 11-year-old plays 9-year-old Buddy in “Belfast.”Jude Hill in a sunny moment in “Belfast.”Rob Youngson/Focus FeaturesOne morning I woke up for a normal school day, and my mum showed me an email. I only read about two words of it before I started running around the house screaming that I got the role, and I was going to get to work with all these amazing people — Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds, Judi Dench.Me and Buddy aren’t that different — we both love football [soccer] and films and have the same personality. Every second the cameras weren’t rolling, I was playing football with the other actors.Judi Dench is very, very funny, and sometimes very inappropriate. To have her play my grandma is insane. We bet two pounds to see who could guess the number of times it would take to film a scene, and I ended up winning. I’m keeping that money in my memory box forever.I’m definitely not a ladies’ man. All the scenes with that girl [whom Buddy has a crush on] were very, very awkward!The first time I saw my face on a poster I thought, “That’s not real.” I’m still just a normal kid, and this is my first film, but I think if you work hard, then you can achieve anything.I learned so many things, but the biggest was to have fun with acting. My little sister, Georgia, who’s 9, has also started acting. Maybe she’ll become an actor, too.I cried the first time I watched the film. And I still get really emotional every time I see it.I’d love to play one of the Avengers in a Marvel film. It’s between Thor and Iron Man. That’s No. 1 on my bucket list.Demi SingletonThe 14-year-old plays a young Serena Williams in her formative years in “King Richard.”Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, left, and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in “King Richard.”Warner Bros. I came to L.A. from New York City, and once I got here, Saniyya came over, we hung out and we’ve been friends ever since. We recently went to Halloween Horror Nights together, and while we were filming, we’d go to The Grove [an outdoor mall] every other weekend.Venus and Serena surprised us with a visit to the set. We spoke about everything except tennis. It was great to see their sisterly bond firsthand and really helped me and Saniyya as actresses.The tennis training was intense. I was expecting it to be so easy because I’ve been dancing for my entire life and thought it’d be much more similar to choreography. The hardest thing to master was the serve. You can be great at every other shot, but if you don’t know how to serve, you’re unlikely to win.Mr. Will was hard to take seriously in those short shorts! We would make fun of him, but we also really admire him — he’s so kind, so humble and was always teaching us something. One thing he told Saniyya and me was to be very selective about the roles we choose because they can define who you are for the rest of your career.Aunjanue [Ellis, who plays Venus and Serena’s mother] taught me how to speak up for myself and my character. There were one or two scenes where I read it and didn’t feel like Serena would react that way, and you feel like you’re so young and aren’t supposed to say much, but she showed me it was OK to talk to the director and come up with different ways to do things.Any role that highlights how powerful women can be is a role I want to be in. I also really want to do an action movie like “Wonder Woman” or “Black Widow,” because that’s been my dream ever since I was a little girl.Saniyya SidneyThe 15-year-old plays Venus Williams as she’s first winning tournaments in “King Richard.”When Venus and Serena came to set, what I took away was how close the family was. They told us, “Yeah, we all shared rooms and did talent shows together; we were so close that there was never a day we weren’t together.”When you create a character from someone else’s imagination, you have the freedom to create emotions and traits, but with a real-life person, you want to make sure you’re portraying them the best you can. I spent lots of time studying videos of Venus and Serena when they were younger.The tennis training was quite intense. The way Venus and Serena play is so unique, and I worked on Venus’s serve every day. My coach, Mr. Eric [Taino], and I were both so proud the day I got the serve down. I’m left-handed, but I had to learn to play right-handed for the movie.Mr. Will is the funniest person ever. It was amazing to watch him create Richard. He inspired me to push myself because he would come to work each day better than yesterday.My family is like, “Oh my goodness, we know you as Saniyya, and now we’re going around town and seeing you on a billboard — that’s kind of crazy, girl!” They’re so proud.I hope families all go see this movie and feel like they’re represented. I also want young girls who may be seeing themselves onscreen to know that it’s important to stay humble and keep your head up. Make sure to take care of yourself.I’d love to do an action film. A Marvel movie star that plays tennis would be hilariously cool.Daniel RanieriThe 10-year-old plays the writer J.R. Moehringer as a boy in “The Tender Bar.”Daniel Ranieri in a scene from “The Tender Bar.”Claire Folger/Amazon StudiosMy mom filmed me cursing about the lockdown, and a couple of months later it went viral. Jimmy Kimmel wanted me on his show, and right after we got done with the interview, George Clooney’s casting director contacted my mom and said George wanted me to be in his next movie. I was like, “Wait, what?!”Ben was so nice to me — me and him have a connection now. The last day of filming, he got me like 10 PlayStation games, with a headset. I keep asking him, “When are you coming to New York?”Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    Don Johnson Is Back as ‘Nash Bridges.’ Why?

    The actor was already having a renaissance thanks to “Knives Out” and “Watchmen.” But those works don’t have a pedigree that includes Hunter S. Thompson.BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — On “Miami Vice,” Don Johnson, as the undercover cop Sonny Crockett, tooled around in speedboats and Ferraris, busted gunrunners and dope dealers and somehow made going sockless look good. The hit series transformed what a police procedural could look, sound and feel like — according to Hollywood lore, the show was pitched as “MTV cops” — and made Johnson an international star.But there is another, perhaps less appreciated contribution to Johnson’s global celebrity, one that predates his recent supporting roles in critically acclaimed films like “Knives Out” and TV series like “Watchmen.” From 1996 to 2001, he played the title character in “Nash Bridges,” a CBS police procedural that, like “Vice,” was set in a gorgeous city (San Francisco) and featured a buddy cop sidekick — played this time by Cheech Marin, one half of the stoner comedy duo “Cheech & Chong.” Twenty years on, Nash remains one of Johnson’s favorite roles.“I liked his nimbleness, how he could be funny one moment and dead cold serious the next,” Johnson said on a recent afternoon here at the Peninsula hotel. “And I was curious to see if I could capture that kind of lightning in a bottle again.”Cheech Marin, left, is back for the revival as well, as Nash’s buddy-cop sidekick, Inspector Joe Dominguez.David Moir/USA NetworkAt first blush, a leading role in the two-hour TV movie revival, “Nash Bridges,” debuting Saturday on USA, may not seem like the most obvious — or necessary — move for Johnson. But as with many a CBS procedural, the show’s popularity, and pedigree, belie the relative lack of attention it has received from the chattering classes. At its peak, “Bridges” had a sweet prime-time slot and a then-and-still-whopping $2 million-an-episode budget, with a weekly audience of more than 8 million viewers. In syndication, the series has found audiences in dozens of countries. And it’s a trivia lover’s dream, with origins tracing back to the writer Hunter S. Thompson.For Johnson, it is also his first time leading a police procedural in two decades. “I wouldn’t have been so excited about it if I had to write it for someone else,” he said.Johnson, who wrote the new movie with Bill Chais and Carlton Cuse, the creator of the original series, spoke candidly about his reasons for revisiting the ’90s procedural, in a wide-ranging conversation that also touched upon some of the stories from his younger, wilder days. Those reasons included love, money and the curiosity befitting a man who, at 71, is naturally given to reflections on the ways people change — or don’t — over time.He wanted to know what Nash — an amiable police inspector and amateur magician who patrolled San Francisco in an early ’70s bright yellow Plymouth Barracuda — would be like 20 years down the road. Not that he didn’t have ideas. Ideas derived, perhaps, from his own experience.The original series featured plots such as an undercover cop (played by the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin) kidnapping a chimp as part of a scheme to capture a terrorist animal rights activist. Spike Nannarello/CBS“I imagine him to still be very fit, and very capable,” Johnson said of Nash. “I imagine him to be wiser, and more thoughtful about things.”“He would still slap the crap out you,” he added, using a cruder term. “But he’d think about it first, and make sure it was coming from a good place.”The decades since “Vice” first made Johnson a star, in 1984, have given him plenty of material. They have, in fact, been the stuff of legend — not all of which is verifiable, and not all of which he remembers. He married Melanie Griffith (twice), set a world record in powerboat racing and released two hit singles (one with his then-girlfriend Barbra Streisand). There were struggles with substance abuse, stories of women’s underwear virtually raining from open windows. There was Miami in the ’80s.Along the way, Johnson had five children, including a daughter, Dakota (of the “Fifty Shades” franchise), who is racking up A-list anecdotes herself these days. More recently, he has undergone a kind of renaissance, transforming himself from a leading man into a versatile character actor, specializing in a kind of winkingly scuzzy, unreconstructed American male in films like “Machete” (2010) and “Django Unchained” (2012), and in TV shows like “Eastbound & Down” (2009-13).When Johnson first took on the role of Nash Bridges, he had been looking for a change. Despite the structural similarities of “Bridges” and “Vice,” its two lead characters were very different. While Sonny skewed toward the tormented and dour, Nash was upbeat and funny, quick with a snappy line. Johnson appreciated the break.“I’d just done a stint on ‘Miami Vice’ for five years, and the show and the character had just gotten darker and darker,” he said. “After a while, it was like, how dark and desolate and without hope can we make Sonny? And I said, ‘I’m not doing that again.’”“I’d just done a stint on ‘Miami Vice’ for five years, and the show and the character had just gotten darker and darker,” Johnson said about his choice to do the original “Nash Bridges,” which was considerably lighter.Ryan Pfluger for The New York TimesThe series began as something of a favor to Thompson, the iconoclastic journalist and writer of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” among other books, who was a neighbor and good friend of Johnson’s in Woody Creek, Colo., at the time.“I was hanging out at his house, and he allowed to me that he was broke,” Johnson said. “And I had this 22-episode commitment at CBS. It was probably 3 a.m. in the morning, and I said, ‘Let’s just conjure up something, and I’ll take it to CBS and see if we can get it done.’”They sketched out an idea about two off-duty cops hired to protect a senator’s wife with Tourette Syndrome, called, what else, “Off Duty.” Later that day, Johnson looked at what the two had wrought.“It was unmakeable,” said Johnson, who became an executive producer on the eventual show. The premise was rejiggered into a procedural about two on-duty cops who were always getting into mischief with off-hours, get-rich-quick schemes. Johnson had the writers watch the 1940 screwball comedy “His Girl Friday” to get a taste of the snappy repartee he wanted.“We were still adjusting the tone of the show through the first order of 12 episodes,” he said. Thompson ended up writing two episodes and making an uncredited cameo as a piano player in the first season.The show had notable talent above the line. “Bridges” was the first series Les Moonves greenlit as head of CBS. Cuse, the creator, went on to become a showrunner of “Lost,” among other series. Writers included Jed Seidel (“Terriers,” “Veronica Mars,” “Gilmore Girls”) and Shawn Ryan, the creator of “The Shield.”Damon Lindelof got his start on “Bridges” before going on to cocreate “Lost” and create the acclaimed HBO series “The Leftovers” and “Watchmen.”“I was a writer’s assistant before ‘Nash Bridges,’” Lindelof said. “Don and Carlton gave me my first big-boy job.”The show garnered strong ratings for six seasons before being unceremoniously dropped in 2001, the result of a dispute between CBS and Paramount, one of the show’s producers. The whole thing “left a sour taste in my mouth,” Johnson said.Johnson with Jamie Lee Curtis in a scene from “Knives Out,” one the many more recent films and TV series that have demonstrated his prowess as a character actor. Claire Folger/Lionsgate, via Associated PressThe new movie, he said, was one way to remedy that. Johnson has a deep, protective love of the character, so much so that when the actor’s business partners at Village Roadshow, who co-own the rights to “Bridges,” approached Johnson about reviving the show, he couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Nash.“When Michael Mann was going to make ‘Miami Vice’ as a movie, he didn’t call me, and I didn’t call him,” he said. “But I knew it was a mistake, and a no-win situation for Colin Farrell. Because everybody on the planet identified me with that character.”And of course, there were also the financial benefits of bringing back a property that Johnson’s production company owns a big piece of, including a portion of the original show’s 122-episode library.“If I didn’t think there was something worthy here, I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “But there’s no question there was a business component to it.” He hopes the “Bridges” movie might eventually lead to a series of some sort, or maybe a run of two-hour specials.In the revival, we catch up with Nash after 20 years — he’s still charming, still in San Francisco. (“We owned the city of San Francisco,” Marin recalled of the experience of shooting the original. “If you’ve gotta own a city, that’s the one to own.”) He and Marin’s character, Inspector Joe Dominguez, have evolved, but not so much that they aren’t befuddled by the changes that millennials and the intervening decades have wrought on the department.Production began in San Francisco in May. Johnson’s colleagues are quick to talk about what a fun and giving guy he is to work with and for, and the attention to detail he gives to every aspect of the show.“He knows the name of every crew member,” Marin said.Others mention his special skills, like his apparently uncanny abilities behind the wheel. For most driving sequences onscreen, the car is placed on a trailer so the actors don’t need to actually drive; sometimes they’re shot in a studio using green screens or projectors. The opening scene of the movie, which has Bridges zipping around San Francisco with a discombobulated Marin riding shotgun — that’s all Johnson.Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas starred in the hit ’80s TV series “Miami Vice,” which made Johnson into an international star and sex symbol.Sleuth “Don will hold the car at exactly 40 miles an hour to keep pace with the camera car, while doing a two-minute-long scene of dialogue perfectly,” said Greg Beeman, a director on both the original “Bridges” and the new one. “I’ve tried it after ‘Bridges,’ and no other actor can do it.”What co-workers won’t do is tell any Don Johnson tales out of school, even those they might have heard thirdhand or seen splashed across a tabloid.But Johnson will. That story about how he got sent to reform school at the age of 12 after hot-wiring a car? “Yeah, I probably made that up,” he said. The time he was snorting cocaine in the men’s bathroom of a club and ran into Jimi Hendrix? “That was a club in New York called the Hippopotamus,” he explained.Those wild “Vice”-era parties at Johnson’s home, where U2 and dozens of models might show up? Well, Johnson couldn’t go out back then. He was the hottest guy on the planet’s hottest show, so the party was brought to him.“What went on behind closed doors, I have no idea,” he said.These days, Johnson’s life is a lot more serene. In addition to his hopes for more “Bridges,” he has plans to do a film for Netflix, and has other projects in the works that he declined to name.Johnson can pick and choose projects “to a certain extent,” he said, but he still likes to be asked, as he was for “Bridges.”“I still like the idea that somebody asked for you,” he said. “I like the idea that someone sends a script and says, ‘We want Don Johnson to do this.’” More

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    'General Hospital' Loses Actors Who Opposed Vaccination Mandate

    Two actors have left one of America’s most popular soap operas after declining to comply with an on-set vaccination mandate.The actors, Steve Burton and Ingo Rademacher, were fixtures of ABC’s “General Hospital,” a long-running daytime drama set in the fictional town of Port Charles, N.Y.About one in five American adults has not received a single dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Mr. Burton and Mr. Rademacher were outspoken opponents of a coronavirus vaccine mandate that applied to a part of the set where actors work unmasked, known in the industry as Zone A. The mandate took effect on Nov. 1.“Unfortunately, ‘General Hospital’ has let me go because of the vaccine mandate,” Mr. Burton, who tested positive for the virus in August and filmed his last episode on Oct. 27, said in an Instagram video on Tuesday.“I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions and both of those were denied — which, you know, hurts,” he added. “But this is also about personal freedom to me. I don’t think anyone should lose their livelihood over this.”Mr. Rademacher’s departure from the show was made public earlier this month. He had also refused to comply with the show’s vaccine mandate. “I will stand with you to fight for medical freedom,” he wrote in an Instagram post.Mr. Rademacher has also been criticized on social media in recent weeks for making comments that his critics perceived to be transphobic, a suggestion he has forcefully denied.Representatives for ABC declined to comment on the record. Publicists for the actors could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.Other Hollywood productions have imposed similar on-set mandates, but there is no universal vaccination requirement for people who work in film and television.“General Hospital” has been on the air since 1963. Its episodes are filmed weeks before they air.Mr. Rademacher played the character Jasper “Jax” Jacks on the show for 25 years. In his last episode, which aired on Monday, the character said — spoiler alert — that he would be returning to Australia.“I’m kind of on the outs with everyone in Port Charles right now,” the character said. Some fans interpreted that as a reference to the actor’s real-life tension with his castmates.In the same episode, Mr. Burton’s character, Jason Morgan, was caught up in a tunnel collapse.Mr. Burton said in his Instagram video on Tuesday that he hoped the show’s vaccine mandate would be lifted so that he could finish his career playing Jason Morgan.“And if not,” he added, “I’m going to take this experience, move forward and be forever grateful.” More

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    ‘Moulin Rouge!’ Has a New Satine. She’s Amazed She’s Back on Broadway.

    Natalie Mendoza walked away from “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” and figured she would never work on Broadway again.That was 11 years ago, and now the 45-year-old Australian actress is back, starring in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” a title with which she has a singular history: Mendoza, who succeeds Karen Olivo in the role of Satine, had a small part in the 2001 film from which the Tony-winning show is adapted; she is the only member of the film’s cast performing in the stage musical.Born in Hong Kong to a Filipino jazz musician and an Australian dancer and television personality, Mendoza grew up in Sydney and Melbourne, with five artistically inclined siblings, and has led a nomadic life. She has lived in Asia, Europe and America; worked in music, film, television and theater; and has repeatedly left the performing arts for school (most recently, she studied French and French history at the Sorbonne) and spirituality (she has spent time at Vedic and other monasteries).Mendoza as the doomed Parisian chanteuse in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”Matt MurphyAnd as the villainous Arachne in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” She left the ill-fated show before opening night. Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesIn 2010, she was cast in the ill-fated “Spider-Man” as Arachne, a villainous spider, but left during previews after suffering a concussion and then witnessing an actor injured in a fall. That was not her only difficult experience with the entertainment industry; in 2017 she said that 15 years earlier Harvey Weinstein had groped her while she was working on a film he was producing.But in an interview earlier this month at the apartment tower where she is staying, she said she loves being onstage, and hopes to become a director.These are edited excerpts from the conversation.We’re talking in a conference room because, citing Covid, “Moulin Rouge!” won’t let me backstage. So let’s just pretend we’re in your dressing room. What would I see?They have this tradition here where you’re allowed to paint your dressing room. First, I felt a little ridiculous, and then I went for a light violet. I wanted something very peaceful and tranquil. There’s a prayer of St. Francis, to remind me to be a better person every day. And beautiful art. I collect art.“You think you’re enlightened on top of a mountain, and you go back into the city and you’re like, ‘How awake am I in this stressful setting?’”Mark Elzey for The New York TimesAnd do you keep a good-luck charm, or mementos?Not really. I’ve checked out of my career many times. I became a seeker very early. I learned meditation, and on and off I’ve been a monk, so when I say I’ve left, I really left. And so to re-engage with the world is always a little bit of a shock. It’s sort of Larry Darrell in “The Razor’s Edge.” You think you’re enlightened on top of a mountain, and you go back into the city and you’re like, “How awake am I in this stressful setting?”I want to come back to spirituality, but let’s start with “Moulin Rouge!” How did you wind up in the film?Many, many moons ago, when I was still living in Australia, I had been cast as Eponine in “Les Misérables.” Baz [Luhrmann] came to see “Les Miz,” because he was wanting to cast Satine, and I ended up at the final audition at his house in Sydney with his whole crew of creatives and bohemians. And we basically workshopped the role.A couple of weeks later, I heard that the glorious Nicole Kidman got the role, which didn’t surprise me. But Baz kept calling me, and saying, “Listen, we want you involved; we’re going to create a character for you,” and sure enough, that’s what happened. He created China Doll. It set my career in a different direction. All the people I met on that film set helped shape my tastes. This girl from the suburbs of Australia suddenly started dreaming about the streets of Paris, and life in London.You had taken a break from performing when you were cast in the London production of “Here Lies Love,” which is how you met Alex Timbers.Being an Asian actress, I would see other young actresses careers take this very clear trajectory, [but] I would play a really interesting role, and then all of a sudden I’d drop off because there wasn’t another role to continue that upward trajectory. Rather than wait around, I’d just go off to India, or go off and study something, and then I’d pop back in. The National Theater contacted me just when I’d left a monastery that I’d been at for a year. So that was a dream come true. And it was hugely successful, and then I just disappeared again.Mendoza and Aaron Tveit in “Moulin Rouge!” She replaced Karen Olivo, who originated the role of Satine onstage.Matt MurphyNow it’s six years later; Timbers is directing “Moulin Rouge!” and he reached out to you again.It had been so long. I just thought, “Can I do this?” Even when I’m not in a monastery, I still very much live that lifestyle. I’m very quiet. I teach meditation. I don’t speak a whole lot. I certainly don’t sing. But I just threw caution to the wind. And I realized I knew this character, because I was there right at the beginning.Karen Olivo, who originated the role of Satine onstage, left citing abuses in the industry. Did that concern you?I messaged her, before opening night, and I just thanked her, because she’s part of this character. I’m benefiting from a lot of the work that she did. And it’s always wonderful when a woman wants to take a stand based on her principles. I know that she cared deeply about the company and the cast, and she was incredibly gracious in saying that she was happy to leave the show in my hands.You had your own experience speaking up, about Harvey Weinstein.It was actually incredibly clumsy of me. The way it was portrayed in the press was far more heroic than the truth. I was reading an article about an actress [who was describing her] experience, and he sort of had a script, and I had encountered the same script. My initial impulse was to comment [on Facebook], and somehow it got leaked.He affected the arc of your career?I had signed a three-picture deal. But after that first movie, I decided Hollywood’s not for me, because I could see the cost. I never see myself as a victim. The thing is Harvey can only be Harvey because there’s a collective agreement that allows it to happen. We’re now seeing these collective shifts, these waves of a change, which is so beautiful. But at that time, that wasn’t going to happen. And so I just went off and kept being an artist in the way that I knew how. But of course, it affected my career. My career was full of potential at that point — I was young and I had some great opportunities, but I took the quieter road.You’re sort of a child of the world. How do you think about your own identity?I do think of myself as a citizen of the world. Growing up in Australia, I was literally like one of two Asian girls in my school year. So I never identified with being Australian. I couldn’t relate to the culture. I would look in the mirror and I would see an Asian girl. And I was drawn to all things Asian. I then left. I started touring and living all over Asia by the age of 16. I was connecting with the different spiritual traditions. And this is what piqued my interest early and then I just started seeking out my own path.“It’s always those devastating blows that propel you, if you allow them to,” Mendoza said.Mark Elzey for The New York TimesSpeaking of your path, I looked through your Instagram and you mention Transcendental Meditation, Christ, the Divine Mother, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Ram Dass, Rumi, a Hindu god, Saint Francis of Assisi. What’s going on?I really honor the essence that permeates all the great faiths, including the faith of quantum mechanics. The intelligence that allows a flower to bloom. That invisible essence that connects and permeates all. We see the crema on top of every great faith. There’s just this commonality that they all share, which is love and peace and compassion. I’m a fan of all of them and a devotee of all of them.Your last Broadway appearance was “Spider-Man.” You left after a concussion. Tell me what your thinking was about coming back.I realized there’s some unfinished business here, because it brought up some strange feelings, like, “Do I want to revisit that?” And I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to perform on Broadway again, because sometimes when things like that happen, you become untouchable. “Oh, you know, she was part of that production.” And so the opportunity to be given this chance, and to change the narrative, because I’m certainly not a quitter — it is the last thing I would ever have expected, but it’s incredibly beautiful to be doing this.How do you view “Spider-Man” in the rearview mirror?It’s its own Greek myth, isn’t it? It was a really powerful turning point for me. To get that close, and to suddenly not be doing it, was a pretty devastating blow. And at the same time, it’s always those devastating blows that propel you, if you allow them to, in a direction spiritually that can be the greatest gift of your life, and certainly that’s what happened. I am so thankful to have gone through that experience, and also to carry so many of the lessons from that experience into this experience. It’s all beautiful.When I heard you got this role, the first thing that occurred to me is that Satine flies. Did that freak you out?Not at all. People thought I left that show because I was scared, and I wasn’t. I was making a stand. People’s safety is important, and it wasn’t my safety I was concerned about. I’m a rock climber. I’m not scared of heights. I’m not afraid. I don’t think any show is worth putting anybody’s life at risk, particularly these dancers that have spent their entire lives training to be up on that stage. You have to treat those bodies with so much respect, because that’s their livelihood. I would never want stardom so much that I would compromise my own integrity. And I have no problem taking a stand for anybody. More

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    ‘West Side Story’ Star Ariana DeBose Is Always Ready for Her Next Role

    After dancing in ‘Hamilton’ and playing Anita in Steven Spielberg’s new musical adaptation, the actress has her sights on a part entirely her own.On a recent fall evening, the actress Ariana DeBose was ordering soup at a cafe near her apartment in New York’s Upper East Side, the lower half of her face covered by a commemorative mask from the reopening of the Broadway show “Six.” DeBose, 30, has no professional relationship to the musical — a poppy reimagining of the lives of Henry VIII’s wives with an emphasis on female empowerment — but her boldly displayed endorsement of the production set a perfect tone for our conversation that night about the women, artists and opportunities that have contributed to making her one of the most sought-after musical theater actresses of her generation. Few performers are shy when it comes to discussing their influences and obsessions, but in DeBose’s telling, it’s impossible to separate any step of her career from the people who helped her get there.She has indeed been in good company. Growing up in Raleigh, N.C., DeBose began dancing competitively at age 7 — she says she “started with the whole ‘ballet, tap, jazz’ of it all” — and dreamed of becoming a backup dancer for Madonna. Soon after finishing high school, she was a finalist on the reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” And over the past decade, she has starred in six back-to-back Broadway musicals and booked two stage-to-screen adaptations, the most recent of which, Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” comes out next month. But while her list of collaborators includes greats like Lin-Manuel Miranda — she played a supporting role in the original production of “Bring It On: The Musical” in 2011 and the Bullet in “Hamilton” from 2015 to 2016 — as well as Robert De Niro (“A Bronx Tale”), Adrienne Warren (“Bring It On”), Diane Paulus (“Pippin”), LaChanze (“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”) and the entire starry cast of Ryan Murphy’s “The Prom” (2020), it’s her offstage relationships especially that would make any up-and-comer swoon.While still in high school, she joined the actors Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann’s musical theater summer intensive, Triple Arts, at Western Carolina University, and the legendary stage couple took DeBose under their wing, coaching her for auditions and encouraging her to skip college and go straight to Broadway. Following that advice paid off — “I had the benefit of learning in real time,” DeBose says — and she was soon cast in “Bring It On.” When the cheerleading acrobatics that that show required began to take a toll, DeBose’s mother suggested she rush a different show to cheer herself up, and she caught a performance of the 2011 revival of “Follies.” She was so mesmerized by the veteran actress Jan Maxwell’s turn as former showgirl Phyllis Rogers Stone that she left a note for her at the stage door afterward. Months later, DeBose received a call from a friend who was starring alongside Maxwell; apparently, Maxwell, having related to the professional doubts DeBose had expressed in her note, had taped it to her dressing room mirror for inspiration. The two women struck up a friendship that lasted until the older actress’s death in 2018.Proenza Schouler coat, $7,500, proenzaschouler.com; and Panconesi earrings.Photograph by Cheril Sanchez. Styled by Yohana LebasiSuch a charmed arrival onto the New York theater scene is almost unheard of and, aware that her current wealth of opportunities is rare, DeBose is determined to prove herself worthy of them. “I don’t ever want anybody to look at my work and think, ‘Why does she have that when they could’ve hired someone else?’” she says. “I don’t ever want to ask myself, ‘Did I do enough?’” It’s not impostor syndrome, she assures me, but rather a perfectionist impulse — one that led her, for example, to brush up on her little-used tap skills last year for her role as an old-timey schoolmarm in Apple TV’s musical series “Schmigadoon!” (2021); in between shooting in Vancouver she would take Zoom classes and watch YouTube tutorials in her hotel room.In other ways, too, there is something distinctly 21st century about DeBose’s career. Besides being an openly queer woman of Afro Latinx descent, she has bounced from role to role — often with little time to prepare — in a way that is reflective of our current gig economy. In the 1960s and ’70s, a performer with her skill set might have been cast in a single musical and ridden the wave of its success for years, touring with the production around the world and resting on the laureled association. But DeBose’s ability to move quickly through roles has reaped its own rewards: She has earned a Tony nomination and won a Chita Rivera Award — both for her most recent Broadway appearance, as Disco Donna, one of the leads in “Summer” — among other accolades. Her dancing in that show, as in each of her performances, had the precision and dynamism of a lifelong performing arts kid who stopped formal training just before conservatory programs could overwrite her natural inclination toward wild abandon. And so she can put her mark on choreographic work whether it is more exacting, as in “Hamilton,” or looser, as in “Bring It On.” She credits her versatility, too, to her knack for meeting directors and choreographers where they are. “Most creators are very intense, and each has their own brand of intensity, their own language,” she explains. “I think part of the reason I’ve been able to continue to book jobs is because I chose to learn how to speak other people’s artistic languages quickly.”Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    In 'Tick, Tick … Boom!,' Robin de Jesús Showcases His Range

    In the film, this queer Puerto Rican actor gets to showcase his range, stepping into a more mature role as Michael.The T-shirt says it all: “This body was built on arroz con gandules.”Arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, is a Puerto Rican classic, and Robin de Jesús wears the shirt with pride under a burnt orange jacket. When mounds of maduros (fried sweet plantains) arrive with our entrees, each is topped with a tiny Puerto Rican flag. De Jesús, 37, approves.The actor’s family is from rural Puerto Rico, and he grew up in a working-class community in Norwalk, Conn. Known for larger-than-life roles like a gay teenager who dabbles in drag in the movie “Camp,” a spirited maid in the Broadway revival of “La Cage aux Folles” and a boisterous interior decorator in both the play and film versions of “The Boys in the Band,” he wanted to diversify his work.Then along came “Tick, Tick … Boom!.” De Jesús was deeply intentional in auditioning for the role of Michael, an actor turned advertiser, in the film, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.“What kept coming up for me was, ‘I want a quiet performance.’ I want a quiet, subtle, nuance,” de Jesús said at lunch. “And I know that, if I do that, I can showcase maturity.”The movie (in theaters and on Netflix) is an adaptation of a musical about the writing of a musical. The original “Tick, Tick … Boom!” was written by Jonathan Larson — who would later go on to write the rock musical “Rent” — and first performed in 1990. The film tells the tale of an aspiring composer (also named Jonathan and played by Andrew Garfield) pouring himself into yet another musical, this one called “Superbia.” It takes place in the early ’90s, against the stark backdrop of the AIDS epidemic.As his 30th birthday looms, Jonathan’s anxiety manifests as a persistent ticking. He worries about the upcoming workshop of “Superbia,” upon which everything seemingly hinges — and about whether he can succeed in the performing arts at all.Michael, his former roommate and best friend since childhood, has tapped out of the threadbare artist lifestyle, opting instead for a plush career in advertising and a glittering high-rise apartment. He was tired of waiting for hours in line for an audition, just to be cut off after six measures of a song and called the wrong name: “Juan, Pedro, Carlos, lo que sea.”De Jesús with Andrew Garfield in “Tick, Tick … Boom!”Macall Polay/NetflixThat’s not to say that Michael has hardened into a formal shell; he stays playful and supportive of Jonathan’s dreams. We first meet him visiting Jonathan at work in the Moondance Diner, where he drops off copies he made of the “Superbia” script.“Boo-boo, you need to ask yourself,” Michael tells Jonathan, “In this moment, are you letting yourself be led by fear? Or love?”De Jesús said, “I knew that Michael did not have to be pulled and buttoned up, that he was someone who navigated being an artist, a creative, someone who was down and hip, and cool with also doing advertising.”“It didn’t have to just be one thing,” he continued.Although de Jesús has appeared in many major movies, he assumed some other, bigger film star might snag the role of Michael. So he took a risk in his audition. Miranda was impressed.“I’ve seen a lot of productions of ‘Tick, Tick … Boom!’ and a lot of the time the guy that gets cast as Michael is someone who looks very at home being a business guy, very dapper, very smooth,” Miranda said in a phone call. “What’s fun about Robin as a choice is that you 100 percent believe this is an artist who thrives in this world. It’s an artist with a business suit on.”Miranda and de Jesús go way back. (So far, in fact, that de Jesús sang at Miranda’s wedding.) In 2005, de Jesús made his Broadway debut in “Rent” as a member of the ensemble and an understudy for Angel, a young drag queen. That same year, he joined the original cast of “In the Heights,” Miranda’s first musical, with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.“Quiara and I realized every time he had the ball, he just put a crazy spin on it and knocked it out of the park,” Miranda said of de Jesús. “I am mixing my tennis and baseball metaphors, but so would Robin.”De Jesús earned a Tony nomination for his role as Sonny in “In the Heights.” He received subsequent nominations for “La Cage aux Folles” in 2010 and “The Boys in the Band” in 2019. This year, he presented at the Tony Awards with Andrew Garfield.But so many of his roles came across as youthful or outsize. De Jesús was ready for something fresh.Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More