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5 Questions With David Whalen

David Whalen plays Paul Sheldon in Misery.

David returns to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park having previously appeared in Shakespeare in Love (Ned Alleyn) and A Prayer for Owen Meany (Dan Needham). Recently, he played Claudius in Hamlet at Pittsburgh Public Theater, which marked his 10th production there. He has performed in over 100 productions across the country and in over a dozen world and American premieres at such theatres as The Guthrie Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, Alley Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Baltimore Center Stage, City Theatre Company, Arden Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Hartford Stage, Everyman Theatre, Round House Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, McCarter Theatre Center, Syracuse Stage, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Gulfshore Playhouse, The People’s Light and Theatre Company, the Venice Bienalle Festival and PlayMakers Repertory Company, among others. Awards include Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; nominated and/or received Kevin Kline, Barrymore and Helen Hayes awards. Film and television credits include American Pastoral; Southpaw; The Last Witch Hunter; The Fault in Our Stars; Jack Reacher; Insomnia; Bystander; The First Seal; 61*; I’ll Call You; The Christmas Tree; Black Dahlia; My Bloody Valentine; True Blue; Indictment: The McMartin Trial; Without Warning; Three Rivers; Pensacola; Silk Stalkings; Diagnosis: Murder; All My Children and The Guiding Light. Please visit

Whalen,-David---Headshot---WebHow long have you been acting, and where did you receive your training?

I've been acting professionally for many years. I became a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA, the stage actor’s union) in 1988. I've been a member of SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild) since 1993. I've performed in more than 100 AEA plays across the country and in Europe, as well as in dozens of film and television productions.

I got my undergraduate degree from Point Park University and my master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor, and what’s your favorite part of the job?

It wasn’t until my senior year in high school. A teacher told me, “Why don't you try out for a play instead of disrupting my class.” (I was a bit of a jokester.) I got cast as the lead and kissed one of the prettiest girls in school. That was it!

By far my favorite part of the job is meeting and working with all of the artists. How great is it to get to know people from different backgrounds coming together to tell a story — it is such a blessing.

David Whalen in Misery. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

What is your all-time favorite role you’ve performed, and why?

Been so fortunate to have played some wonderful characters on stage, so it’s hard to name just one. Shakespearean roles: Macbeth and Marc Antony have been highlights, and I just finished playing Claudius in Hamlet (love the conflicted roles). Contemporary roles: Mike in Good People, Joe Pitt in Angels in America, Padraic in The Lieutenant of Inishmore and the title role in Blake Robison's adaptation of Charming Billy. Also, I've played Sherlock Holmes five times — an endlessly fascinating character.

What role have you been dying to play, and why?

Coriolanus. Also, one day I hope to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

Barbara Chisholm and David Whalen in Misery. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

What has been the most interesting part of working on Misery so far?

Misery is such an iconic psychological thriller and working opposite Barbara and Ken has been fantastic! Blake is such a graceful, insightful collaborator who is allowing us to bring all our instincts to the creative process. Along with the whole team of artists, we're trying our best to bring all the visceral intensity, passion, humor and physicality that this story demands. We want to attack it with a fresh energy. It's a helluva RIDE!!

To learn more about the Playhouse’s production of Misery, visit our production detail page.