She's more famous than he is in some circles, Leonard says — a former Princeton and Columbia University classics scholar who has won horse jumping championships on the international equestrian circuit. They were introduced by a producer at Malaparte, the New York City stage company he founded with Ethan Hawke after they'd become friends acting together in "Dead Poets Society."
"He said, 'I only know one person on earth who goes out less than you do — my cousin Gabby,'" Leonard recalled. "We were a perfect match. We're very boring people. We love being home and reading and occasionally watching a 'Law & Order' if we have a spare hour."
Leonard appeared steadily in films and television movies before "House," and he doesn't intend to focus solely on theater now.
During the interview he was still sporting a ragged beard grown for a guest-starring role fighting alien invaders alongside Noah Wyle in several episodes of the coming season of the TNT television series "Falling Skies."
But screen stardom isn't something he craves, having seen how hard celebrities have to work at their fame. "I don't have it in me. There are some people who want to be adored by millions of anonymous people, and I think that's an unfortunate desire, because from all I've ever read and seen in my life, I don't think it actually ever fills the hole you think it will."
But Leonard is not casual about acting, even if he'd rather think of it, in the grand scheme of things, as a relatively unimportant craft instead of a noble and brilliant art. Interviewed three days before the start of rehearsals for "Pygmalion," he said that for four nights running he'd been having bad dreams about being unprepared for what he expected to be an uphill battle to seize Henry Higgins back from Rex Harrison, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.
Many in the audience will know the Higgins and Doolittle of "My Fair Lady," the blockbuster 1950s musical adaptation of "Pygmalion" that also starred Audrey Hepburn. Shaw's comedy is quite different, even apart from the fact that Higgins and his protégée are not seen flamenco-dancing through "The Rain in Spain" together.
"When I'm on stage, I want to excel. I do feel driven that way, and I'm actually quite ambitious in that regard," Leonard said. "To have a strong sense that what you do is not vitally important to the universe, but also to be passionate about it and believe that wanting to play Henry Higgins as best you can does have importance — they both exist for me at some level."