Anthony Rapp says Yul Brynner could be ‘pretty nasty,’ punched him in stomach backstage at The King and I
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Boy, does Anthony Rapp have some stories about his early days in the industry.
Sitting down with Couch Surfing host Lola Ogunnaike for PeopleTV, Rapp, now 47, looked back on his time performing in the theater production of The King and I around age 10. It was during that time that Tony and Oscar winner Yul Brynner, who performed the lead male role in the production, punched him in the stomach backstage for getting in his way.
“I was around some people when I was growing up. Yul Brynner was not a very nice person,” Rapp says. “So I think I learned what I didn’t want to be in the business… [Brynner] could be pretty nasty.” On a scale of one to 10, Rapp labels Brynner a nine.
Brynner, who originated the role of “The King” in 1951, won two Tonys for the theater version of The King and I and an Oscar for the 1956 film adaptation. He died at the age of 65 in 1985.
“He punched me in the stomach once when I was in his way,” Rapp recalls. “He went, ‘Get out of my way!’ It was backstage in the dark. … He’d been playing The King for 30 years at that point so I think he thought he was The King. If this happened in 2019, it would be a very different story.”
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