Wendell Pierce says playing Willy Loman is like scaling a mountain each night.
The New Orleans native is receiving accolades for his portrayal of Loman in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" at Piccadilly Theater in London's West End. The production originated at the Old Vic.
In an interview in Sunday's New York Times, Pierce called the role America's Hamlet, acknowledging the notable group of American actors who've played the part.
Pierce, known for performances in HBO's "The Wire" and "Treme," the hit TV show "Suits" and numerous movies, is an accomplished theatrical actor. During his career, he's appeared in plays by August Wilson, Shakespeare and Chekhov. Pierce hopes to add Othello and King Lear to his Loman role, he told the Times.
An all-black cast plays Loman's family in the West End production, which brings new dimensions to Miller's play, Pierce said. A black family struggling with middle-class aspirations has parallels to Loman's Jewish family.
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed Pierce's childhood home in New Orleans' Ponchartrain Park neighborhood, Pierce launched efforts to rebuild the community. He also received praise for his production of "Waiting for Godot," which brought healing to the city after Katrina's devastation.
Pierce's triumphant performance as Willy Loman brings him to the top tier of American actors.