In the Wings: A Conversation with Detroit Star Geneviève Perrier

The actress dishes on her favorite celebrity chef, her addiction to Intervention and where she keeps her (two!) Barrymore Awards.

Genevieve Perrier HeadshotMy name is … Geneviève Perrier. But if someone says Guinevere, Jean Vive, or Jonbenet, I usually look up.

I am …  an actor in Philadelphia currently playing Mary in Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. I am not related to the Perrier bottled water empire.

I grew up … in Center City until age 11, then Blue Bell until I graduated from high school.

How would you describe Detroit in one sentence? A surprising, poetic dark comedy about change, the American dream, reality, and relationships.

In what way are you most like your character Mary? I too can be scared of change.

How are you different? I am not as controlling as she is.

To get into character for the show I … don’t have any particular ritual. I warm up, get into costume, and remind myself to “invent nothing, deny nothing, and stay in the moment.”

You’ve won two Barrymore Awards. Where do you keep them? Right in front of the door, that way when people trip over them I can say, “Now, how did that get there?” No, I keep one a shelf. The other only exists on paper because I got it the year the Barrymore’s didn’t happen. My husband promised to make me one out of tin foil and sticks. I’m still waiting.

Who’s the first person you thank when you win these types of rewards? The first one I won there was a ceremony and I thanked my father. I actually began to speak in French and then blanked … like you do.

My first stage kiss … was as a student in a scene study class.  It was just about as awkward as a real-life first kiss, but I wasn’t in the bushes, I was on stage in front of many people.

Detroit 3

Steven Rishard, K.O. DelMarcelle, Geneviève Perrier, and Matteo J. Scammell in “Detroit.” | Photo by Mark Garvin

The first play I was in was … Annie and I played the littlest orphan.

On opening nights I always … tell myself it’s like any other show, which it’s not, and go out there and try to have fun. Then after the show I find my husband and get a good hug and a check in.

My dream role is … anything in the world of science fiction that would involve hours of prep in a makeup chair.

My surprising celebrity crush is … Anthony Bourdain.  Chef, writer, quick-witted, and all-around curious human.

The most famous person I’ve ever met was … Dave Morse. I did a movie with him years ago and he was so kind, down to Earth, and took the time to get to know me a bit. I know he could sense how nervous I was and he did everything to reassure me and to be a generous and wonderful scene partner.

The last thing I binge-watched was … Intervention. I don’t watch it all the time; only when I want to. I can stop any time.  Seriously.


Steven Rishard, Geneviève Perrier, Matteo J. Scammell and K.O. DelMarcelle, in “Detroit.” | Photo by Mark Garvin

To stay in shape I … hem and haw about not wanting to work out, usually for 10-minute intervals, with about two-minute rests in between sets. My workouts at the moment are the warmups I lead with my students three days a week and the second to last scene in Detroit, which hurts, but in a good way.

The last time I dined out in Philadelphia, I … went to John’s Roast Pork and had the Italian. Yum.

The best show I saw in Philly recently was … Arcadia at the Lantern [Theater Company].

The best thing about Philadelphia’s theater scene is … our intimate and amazing community of friends.

Where should we look for you next? I am expecting my first child in January so I have nothing on the books for spring. I look forward to being back on the stage in the summer or fall.

Detroit plays at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre through November 9th. More information and tickets can be found here