They cast me in Julius Caesar because I’m good at pretending to be surprised by murder.
Our aim was for Brutus. You’ll just have to trust me when I say he deserved it. The director told me the aim was for Brutus, he told me Brutus deserved it, and he gave me a figure and a cash advance. He told me who was in on it: Julius Caesar, Cassius the Conspirator - and now me. They wanted somebody strong and reliable in the chorus, because they weren’t all as accustomed to the act as I was. They were all committed to the job, don’t get me wrong, he said; but until you’ve truly gone through with it, you don’t know for sure. My job was to rehearse the big crowd scene just like an ordinary extra, and wait for the signal. We were going to do it during a performance. The audience were going to be our witnesses and our alibi. I told the director it was a ridiculous idea, and he doubled the figure. I said I’d do it.
For many long days I had to pretend to be interested in moving about like an angry Roman citizen, and playing learn-everybody’s-name games.
I didn’t see Cassius or Caesar until our first full cast rehearsal, and then never alone. We all knew, though, so it didn’t matter. Caesar was a gent, polite to everybody, from the lowliest sentry to the actors with laurel wreaths on their doors. The woman playing Cassius was formidable and haughty. I liked her. A few days before the dress rehearsal, we all watched a full run-through of the play for the first time. I watched Cassius convince Brutus - our target, Brutus - to murder Julius Caesar, and I admired her for being able to do that.