Daphne Rubin-Vega may be best known as the original Mimi in the uber-smash Broadway musical Rent, but she hasn’t exactly rested on her laurels since then. The Panamanian theater started her own band (DRV), is starring opposite Ethan Hawke in the new play Blood from a Stone in December, and this week, she’s featured in comedy/drama flick Jack Goes Boating, directed by Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In Jack Goes Boating, she plays the sexually adventurous half of a married, bickering stoner couple (her hubby is played by John Ortiz of American Gangster fame) whose marriage falls apart right after they play matchmaker for a couple of friends (Hoffman and Amy Ryan). Daphne talked to us about how she keeps her own relationship hot and about balancing it all with her ultimate job: mommy to 6-year-old son Luca Ariel.
You’ve already played Lucy as a successful Broadway play. Did you hesitate in taking it up for the big screen?
No! I love the humanness of all the characters. They are all very multi-dimensional. They contradict themselves, they are ordinary people going through extraordinary moments in their lives. There was no way I was going to walk away from it, if for no other reason than to support Phil’s directorial debut. He’s an extraordinary leader.
The four characters smoke a lot of pot. What’s your vice?
My really shameful habit, my horribly guilty pleasure is that I play Bejeweled a lot on my iPad to relax. And it drives my husband [Tommy Costanzo] crazy. Because I'm like, 'I’ll be done in a minute' and it’s something that I get lost in it. I can’t tell you how much I love that game. It zones me out.
In all your time onstage and onscreen portraying a marriage that utterly explodes after betrayal, what have you learned about relationships?
That they’re very challenging and painful. Sometimes the requirements to be truthful and honest with yourself and each other can be heart-wrenching but it’s worth it. You get out of it what you put into it. In the movie, you see one couple in the beginning stages coming into it adult enough to know what they need and what they want and having the bravery to articulate it. Then you have another couple who has been there and proverbially done that—gone through the motions of commitment. Yet there’s an extra bit of truth that they can’t really attack. It gets to a point where it’s like, change, or move on and it’s excruciating when someone needs to move on.
Let’s talk about your most important relationship—as a mom. How has Luca changed your life and career?
I think having become a mom, it definitely changed my demands on work. I became more selective because my career was my baby before I had a baby. Now my baby is my baby. I still have a band, but we haven’t played out in a while because. Suddenly you have more demands. The thrill I feel helping my kid do homework and reading something to him is as important as anything else. It’s more important.
What’s next for you? Any plans for a new album?
I love what I’m doing right now. I’m thrilled that the film is coming out. The play that I’m working on for December [a dark comedy about a troubled working-class family] is a bear of a play—it’s a pretty big bite to work on, so I’m very excited about that. As far as music goes, I’ll never stop having a band and singing.