Jez Butterworth salutes wife Laura Donnelly at Tony Awards

British screenwriter and playwright Jez Butterworth ignored his own prepared speech at the Tony Awards on Sunday (09Jun19) to salute his actress girlfriend Laura Donnelly.
The 50 year old had been invited onstage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to speak about his Best Play nominee The Ferryman, but instead of telling viewers about the acclaimed production, he decided to use his time in the spotlight to celebrate his longtime partner, whose family tragedy during the Northern Ireland Conflict in the early 1980s inspired his latest work.
“You can Google the play and find out all the things I was going to say… it’s very easy for you to do,” Butterworth told the crowd.
He then turned his attention to Northern Irish actress Donnelly, praising her for originating the role of Caitlin Carney in the West End play in 2017 while she was expecting their baby, and doing it all over again after the play transferred to Broadway last year.
“What I want to take the chance to do tonight… is to thank Laura Donnelly, who played Caitlin in The Ferryman. She played the part (in the U.K.) for over 300 performances and I think for 250 of those, she was pregnant with our child,” he explained. “She then had another one of our children when we were here in New York.”
“In the two years she’s done all those performances, she had two kids,” Butterworth said. “Can we all just give her one of these (a round of applause)?”
After the audience obliged, he touched on Donnelly’s extremely personal link to the play, which centres on the disappearance of a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) activist.
“The story of The Ferryman is about Laura Donnelly’s family,” he shared. “It was her family that inspired it. Her uncle was the first of ‘The Disappeared’ discovered. Without it, I would never have written the play. Thank you so much Laura, I love you.”
The Ferryman was nominated for nine Tony Awards, and took home four honours, including the coveted Best Play, with Butterworth handing over his prize to his lady as the night came to a close.
“Laura Donnelly’s uncle was killed by the IRA, that was the birth of this story, and so… that’s yours mate, there you go,” he smiled as he gave the actress the gong. “Thank you!”