As a young actor, Philip Bosco aimed high. He would stick to the New York stage, rather than trying Hollywood, and seek out parts in plays by the great George Bernard Shaw.
Idealism paid off in Bosco’s case. Now 58, he won his fourth Tony nomination this week, as best actor for his role as a Cleveland opera impresario in the Broadway farce “Lend Me a Tenor,” the 100th play of Bosco’s New York career.
He still has never been to Los Angeles, but the movies came to him. He has the title role in “The Luckiest Man in the World,” a comedy playing only at the AMC Theaters in Century City. Bosco plays a wealthy dress manufacturer who behaves abominably to all who know him until he narrowly escapes an accidental death and attempts a total turn-around.
“This is one of the best years I’ve ever had,” he says. “If you can manage to hang on long enough and retain your health and your interest, I think it becomes a little easier. When you’re younger, it seems like there are 8,500 guys all reading for the same roles, and they’re all much better looking than you are.”
Bosco is so much the “actor’s actor,” says “Luckiest Man” writer-director Frank Gilroy, that when Bosco read with actors auditioning for the movie, “Phil adjusted himself to each actor to make them look better and he made every one better than they were, which made my decision more difficult.”
Bosco decided to try films six years ago, when the seven children he has with wife Nancy were approaching college and law school. The film money, especially residuals, “is wonderfully rewarding,” he said. “You work in theater and don’t get anything like that.”
So far, he has had roles in 15 movies, including “Children of a Lesser God,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “The Dream Team,” and Woody Allen’s “Another Woman.”
But he hasn’t reneged on his original goal. He turned down a part in “Ironweed” to do a Shaw play. In fact, his last best actor Tony nomination, in 1987, was for a part in Shaw’s “You Never Can Tell.”