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Blair Underwood on the 'Bountiful' rewards of his career [video]

Cicely TysonA Streetcar Named Desire (movie)

Blair Underwood has been enjoying a year with what he calls his "first professional love" -- theater. And he dropped by The Times' office recently to talk about that and a number of other things, including why we have his wife to thank for that celebrated guest arc he did on "Sex and the City."

Underwood recently starred opposite Cicely Tyson (you don't call her Cicely, Underwood says, "it's Miss Tyson") in a critically praised remake of "The Trip to Bountiful" on the Lifetime Channel. The deceptively simple story follows an elderly woman determined to visit her tiny Southern hometown one last time. Underwood plays her loving son, and Vanessa Williams is on board as his wife, who's not nearly as understanding.

"Bountiful," written by Horton Foote, premiered as a teleplay on NBC in 1953 and was produced on Broadway the following year. It was later adapted as a film, winning Geraldine Page an Oscar in 1986. A 2013 Broadway revival was equally successful, winning Tyson a Tony Award.

Underwood talked to us about why the material continues to resonate 50 years after it premiered, citing the themes of home and family connection. He also spoke at length about his character and the rewards it gave him as an actor.

Underwood, Tyson and Williams will reprise their small-screen roles when "Bountiful" plays locally at the Ahmanson Theatre from Sept. 17 to Nov. 2. Underwood will also be playing the lead in “Othello” at the Old Globe in San Diego from June 22 to July 27.

As you can imagine, Underwood is pretty stoked about all this, particularly coming fairly soon after he realized his dream of acting on Broadway, playing Stanley in "A Streetcar Named Desire," no less. His enthusiasm is contagious. So have a listen and find out for yourself, won't you?

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