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Artist Spotlight: Henry R. Lynch ‘20

Artist Spotlight Henry Lynch
Artist Spotlight: Henry Lynch
Henry R. Lynch is a sophomore with a lifelong passion for acting. Concentrating in Linguistics with a related field in Theater, Dance, and Media, Lynch has starred in several productions on campus, most recently playing Eric Harris in Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli’s play “Columbinus” in 2017, as well as Hanschen Rilow in “Spring Awakening.” The Harvard Crimson sat down with Lynch to discuss his approach to acting and his plans for the future.

The Harvard Crimson: How did your acting career get started?

Henry R. Lynch: When I was very young, about six years old, my sister was in a play. I was very jealous, and I wanted to do one, but you had in fourth grade to be in it. Then we moved to Wisconsin when I was in second grade, and you had to be in third grade to be in the show, but for whatever reason, for my third and fourth grade year they didn’t have them. So it wasn’t until fifth grade when I finally got to do my first play, which was this 20-minute play based on a children’s book… I played the Frog and I loved it, and ever since then I did every single school show through middle school, and then in high school I did stuff in Milwaukee. So that’s how it started.

THC: What roles have you starred in at Harvard, and do you have a favorite role from shows you’ve done here?

HRL: The first show I did freshman year was “The Mikado” and I played Pooh-Bah, and then I was in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” where I played Rocky, and then last semester I was in “Spring Awakening” where I played Hanschen, and “Columbinus” in which I played Eric Harris/The Freak. “Columbinus” was definitely the most rewarding role I’ve done so far. It was really heavy subject matter as it’s based on the Columbine school shooting, and to be playing a character who is a real person was very interesting because I had never done that before. There was a lot of research—like reading his actual writings and journal entries—and reading about other people talking about how he was as a person from the outside. Just trying to figure out how to play this person who’s clearly a sociopath. You can’t approach it like a normal human being and the thoughts that would go through [his] mind [were] just completely messed up and wired [in a] completely different, horrible way from me. That was definitely my favorite show that I’ve done at Harvard, just because of the extra challenges it posed.

THC: You just touched on it a bit, but what is your general approach to preparing for a role?

HRL: Obviously it differs depending on the character, but it always starts with the text, reading it over many times, seeing what your character says and what other characters say about you, and figuring out [what] their relationship is with other people. And then, if you do have a role like Eric Harris, who is a real person, you have all this other wealth of information. Especially in “Columbinus,” in the first act I wasn’t explicitly being “Eric Harris,” because part of the role is figuring out which parts of the historical person you actually want to adopt and choose to use.

THC: If you had to pick one actor who has particularly inspired you in your life, who would it be?

HRL: Edward Norton. I’ve always loved him just because of the crazy differences in all the roles he does. I don’t know quite what it is about his performances that I find so exciting, but in “Birdman,” there’s a scene with him and Michael Keaton when they first meet, and there’s just something just so raw and real about Edward Norton’s acting in that scene. I watch that scene all the time and think if I could ever act like that, that’s what I want to be doing.

THC: Do you have desires to pursue other artistic endeavors, such as directing or writing, or do you view yourself as an actor primarily?

HRL: I’d definitely be interested in trying directing. I directed a scene for the Shakespeare Senior Recital my freshman year and it was an eight-minute thing, so it wasn’t much. I’m not a very organized person, so I’m still very afraid of trying to direct a full length production because there’s so many moving parts and bringing all sorts of things together. I think you have to worry about a lot more things from a directorial standpoint. As an actor, you just show up and a lot of that is already done for you, which is fun and great, but it would also be interesting and I think important to know the other side of it, so I’d like to try and direct a show here at Harvard before I graduate. As far as writing, I always wished I could be a writer, but I’ve never known how to approach it, so we’ll see if I ever get into it. But directing is definitely of interest to me.

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