Vincent - Jim Jarrett
This article is from 2008.
Actor Jim Jarrett tells Allan Radcliffe why he keeps returning to the lead role in Leonard Nimoy’s play about Vincent Van Gogh
A one-man play about an iconic Dutch post-impressionist painter, scripted by the man best-known for playing a pointy-eared alien would be worth seeing for sheer curiosity value alone. What’s perhaps more surprising is that, since its first production in 1981, Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent has become an international touring phenomenon.
Much of this success is down to actor Jim Jarrett, who first read the piece (which depicts Theo Van Gogh mourning his beloved brother’s suicide) in 1994. For the past 12 years, Jarrett has toured the piece to venues around the world, from the United States to Europe and the Philippines, performing to over a quarter of a million people. So, how does he account for his strong affinity with Nimoy’s play?
‘First of all, what it seems to do to audiences is amazing,’ says Jarrett. ‘I think people see a lot of themselves in Vincent, and they’re surprised by that. But the play has also raised the bar so high for me as an actor that to do anything else would seem a step backwards.’
The actor also draws parallels between Van Gogh’s late blossoming as an artist and his own career trajectory. Having reached a late-20s malaise, Jarrett’s life was changed by a screening of The Deer Hunter. Despite having no training, contacts or experience, he immediately moved from San Francisco to New York in pursuit of an acting career.
‘I came late to my dream, and when you leap off later in life like that people are queuing up to say, “What are you doing?” It takes great courage to pursue your dream, and I think Vincent was very courageous.’
Vincent, Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 11), 4.25pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £8.