By Ian Spelling
Matthew Broderick is a New York kind of guy. Maybe it’s the slight New York accent or the way he dresses but it’s hard to imagine Broderick coming from any other part of the country.
Broderick, son of the late actor James Broderick and the late playwright Patricia Broderick, was born in Manhattan (he’s a Mets fan) and, thanks to his parents, immersed in the world of acting early on. He studied at the Walden School and landed his first professional acting jobs in a workshop staging of 1980’s “On Valentine’s Day” and the off-Broadway play “Torch Song Trilogy.” The latter show put him on the map, at least on the “Great White Way,” and he next turned up in the Neil Simon hits “Brighton Beach Memoirs” for which he won a Tony Award as Featured Actor, and “Biloxi Blues” (1985).
It’s hard to believe, but Broderick will turn 45 in March. Looking at him – with his boyish good looks still intact, that glint in his eye as playful as ever.
On the personal front, after dating such actresses as Jennifer Grey—with whom he was in a 1987 car accident in Ireland that killed a mother and daughter—and Penelope Ann Miller, he met Sarah Jessica Parker. She, too, started young, had performed on stage and on screen, and had her own career ups and downs before starring on HBO’s “Sex and the City” from 1998 to 2004. They married in May, 1997, and live together in Manhattanwith their four-year-old son, James, though they also spend as much as possible each year in Ireland, where Broderick vacationed often with his family as a child. Over the years, Broderick and Parker have acted together just a few times, including “How to Succeed without Really Trying” and the recent film comedy “Strangers with Candy”(2006).
Broderick – who’s recovered from a broken collarbone he suffered during a horse riding accident over the summer – counts among his upcoming projects Deck the Halls, a holiday about two family men—Broderick and Danny De Vito—who try to out-Christmas cheer each other. Kristin Davis, Parker’s co-star on “Sex and the City,” plays Broderick’s wife. He’s also completed “Margaret,” a drama that reunites Broderick with “You Can Count on Me” writer-director Kenneth Lonergan; “Bee Season,” an animated feature; and “Then She Found Me,” a romance-drama directed by and co-starring Helen Hunt, his co-star nearly 20 years ago in “Project X” (1987).
Broderick made his big-screen debut in “Max Dugan Returns,” a lightweight Neil Simon comedy-drama starring Jason Robards. The young actor made a bigger mark with “WarGames” a paranoid thriller about a teenager – guess who? – who hacks into a super-computer and nearly causes World War III. After turning down the role of Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties – a sitcom that Michael J. Fox rode to stardom – Broderick charmed audiences in “LadyHawke” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” before starring in film versions of “Biloxi Blues” and “Torch Song Trilogy.” He displayed his dramatic chops in “Glory,” playing Col. Robert Gould Shaw, a white man who, during the Civil War, led the first company of black soldiers.
Other than “The Lion King” the animated blockbuster for which Broderick voiced Simba, the 1990’s didn’t rate as Broderick’s big-screen heyday. Despite some interesting performances, not many moviegoers turned out for “The Freshman,” “Out on a Limb,” “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Table,” “The Road to Wellville,” “The Cable Guy “Infinity”— a drama he produced, directed and starred in, and his mother wrote. Even the ultra-hyped “Godzilla” proved a disappointment compared to expectations.
Fortunately, Broderick scored again on Broadway in 1995 with a Tony Award-winning turn in the musical “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” Then, he and Nathan Lane triumphed on stage in the mega-hit Broadway production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” which he chased with a popular television movie version of “The Music Man,” the underwhelming feature “The Stepford Wives.”
The stage version of The Producers changed everything for Broderick. It’s widely credited with, if not reviving Broderick’s career, at least taking it to the next level. In an interview around the time of the film’s release, Broderick, didn’t buy that, saying, “Just from the minute we started doing it, the audience was like, ‘Yeah, more! That's what we want.’ It was longer in Chicago (during its out of town tryout), and we shortened it, but even when it was too long, they were like, ‘I don't care.’ They didn't care. I got the job and so did Nathan, because we weren't quite as washed up as you might think before The Producers. I was working pretty steadily right up to The Producers.”