Actor Christopher Abbott, perhaps best known as the sweet boyfriend and helpless doormat of Marnie (Allison Williams) in HBO’s Girls, spoke with the New York Times earlier this week to discuss his recent return to theater acting, which resulted in his sudden and unexpected exit following the second season of HBO’s comedy-drama. Earlier this month he started performing his new role as Tony, an aggressive alpha male in the play Where We’re Born down in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Abbott has been studying and performing theater since 2006, and he says it was his television acting that never appealed to him the way theater acting has.
“The world that Lena [Dunham] wrote was very real, especially in New York,” he said. “But it wasn’t as relatable for me on a personal level. It’s not that I only play the roles I know to a T, but there’s something satisfying about playing parts where you really relate to the characters.”
Betty Gilpin, who plays alongside Abbott in Where We’re Born, insisted that his role in Girls put him completely out of his element. “For him to be written off as the ‘nice guy’ is an injustice in my mind. He’s got that bull in a china shop in him,” she told the Times.
Abbott also went on to explain that his departure, although surprising to his coworkers and audiences, was not a spur of the moment decision. He simply realized that his passion for theater acting was a priority that he needed to pursue first and foremost. Where We’re Born director Jackson Gay stands by Abbott’s dedication, adding that Abbott often “comes to rehearsal even when he is not in the scene.”
One can imagine that the actor’s absence will pose a huge problem for a writing team that made the on-and-off romance between Charlie and Marnie a pretty major part of show’s second season, particularly its finale. HBO has already renewed Girls for a 12-episode season, which is likely to premiere sometime next year.