All but two of our Experts predict Philip Seymour Hoffman will win Best Actor (Play) for headlining the fourth rialto revival of 1949 Tony champ “Death of a Salesman.” Hoffman, who lost this race in 2000 for “True West” to Stephen Dillane (“The Real Thing”), is far out in front with odds of 4 to 7 to claim his first Tony.
If he prevails, Hoffman will be the first of the three Best Actor Oscar champs to play the role of Willy Loman on Broadway to win over Tony voters. George C. Scott, who turned down his 1970 Academy Award for “Patton,” contended in 1975 for the first Broadway revival; he lost to John Wood (“Travesties”). Dustin Hoffman was snubbed for his 1984 performance though the production won Best Revival and he claimed an Emmy in 1986 for the TV version. (Jeremy Irons won Best Actor that year for the original production of “The Real Thing.”).
While “Death of a Salesman” won Best Play at the third-ever Tony Awards, star Lee J. Cobb did not take home Best Actor. During those early years, only the winner was announced and it was Rex Harrison for playing Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days.” The most recent remounting of “Salesman” was in 1999 and both star Brian Dennehy and the production won Tony Awards.
In third position at 15 to 1 is James Earl Jones who won this race twice (“The Great White Hope,” 1969; “Fences,” 1987) for his performance as an ex-President in Gore Vidal’s political drama “The Best Man.” Susan Haskins (Theater Talk) is backing his bid.
Another two-time Tony winner, John Lithgow (“The Changing Room,” 1973; “The Sweet Smell of Success,” 2002), is at 20 to 1 for playing real-life political commentator Joseph Alsop in David Auburn‘s new play “The Columnist.” He contended in this race for “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” 1985) and “M. Butterfly,” 1988).
Frank Langella won this race in 2007 for “Frost/Nixon” adding to the two featured actor awards he already had (“Seascape,” 1975; “Fortune’s Fool,” 2002). With odds of 50 to 1, he contends for his performance as a ruthless businessman in “Man and Boy.”
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