If the excellent leading man in Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts’ world premiere of The Forgotten Woman seems familiar, you may know him from a substantially different role. Darren Goldstein, who plays a slightly shady entertainment reporter in the play, also plays the extremely shady Oscar Hodges on Showtime’s The Affair.
In real life, Goldstein couldn’t be more different than these two characters.
On The Affair, Oscar Hodges is the fictional owner of real-life restaurant the Lobster Roll (a.k.a. Lunch). The occasional lover of waitress Alison Lockhart, Oscar resorts to scheming and pseudo-Machiavellian plotting when he learns that Alison has been having an affair with vacationer Noah Solloway.
“I can see how Oscar is viewed as mostly oily and malicious,” Goldstein says with a chuckle. “But I interpret him as a hurt guy. In the show we haven’t [explored] too much there, but I think Oscar is in love with Alison, Ruth Wilson’s character. I think that fuels him, and he’s a little lost. When viewers say ‘Oh, you’re so evil,’ I have my own ideas of why he is the way he is. There’s a very innocuous reason why everything that comes out of his mouth seems to be with grease.”
Goldstein, originally from Huntington, learned a lot about the local community while doing The Affair. “Oscar is very entrenched in small town Montauk life. Even though I’m from Long Island, I only knew [Montauk] as a tourist,” he says. “It was interesting to read these scripts and get an idea of what the tourist underbelly is like. I think that happens in lots of vacation places—Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach. There’s a feeling of, ‘these tourists come in and wreck the town.’”
Despite his impressive theater and screen resume, Goldstein didn’t originally pursue acting as a career. “I didn’t get into theater until my junior year in college at SUNY Albany. As much as I loved the guys in [my fraternity], my life didn’t feel dynamic enough. So I wandered into a theater audition for The Threepenny Opera!” he says with a laugh, noting how complex that show is. “My naïveté propelled me in the door and I sang a song and played a street singer. I was terrible, like everyone is in the beginning. Then I went for a nine-month internship in D.C. at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.”
Clearly it paid off. Goldstein went on to get a masters degree from NYU and has been acting ever since. His wife, Katie Finneran, is also an actor and appears on the Netflix series Bloodline, which films in Florida. Despite their busy careers, Goldstein and Finneran make time for their family and have two children.
“What’s great about my kids is they understand Mommy and Daddy coming and going. If Katie or I need to travel for a job, they’re fine with us leaving temporarily and coming back. That’s something special about having parents who are actors, and they do travel with us, so they’ve lived in places like New York and Miami.”
The Forgotten Woman has been a fulfilling project for Goldstein, who admires the structure of the show—the single set, small cast of characters, the action taking place within a matter of days. “I read the play and it was constructed like an old fashioned play, in the best kinds of ways,” he says. “I knew [playwright] Jonathan Tolins from his other plays. I did a [staged] reading, and I thought it really worked.”
Goldstein is happy to be part of the world premiere, and to be spending the summer at Bay Street, having previously appeared in Beyond Therapy there in 2008, where he met Finneran. “This theater has a particular resonance for me. It’s a dream place to work. I just love it,” he says with a smile.
The Forgotten Woman runs through June 19 at Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. For tickets and more information, call 631-725-9500 and visit baystreet.org.