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Moving from 'Sports Night' to a drawing-room drama

Felicity Huffman has worked with David Mamet for many years - through a series of plays and two movies. One of the stars of Mr. Mamet's new play, "Boston Marriage," she is best known for her role on ABC's "Sports Night" as the ultraefficient producer Dana Whitaker. Her role in Mamet's play is a far cry from her TV persona, but Ms. Huffman is superb in both.

She hails from Woody Creek, Colo., from a family of seven girls and one boy. She made her way to New York University, where she first met Mamet and became his student. He changed her life. "I owe everything to David professionally and personally," said Ms. Huffman in an interview last week. "I even met my husband [actor William H. Macy] through him. David has always believed in me - against great odds sometimes."

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Mamet, Huffman, Mr. Macy, and others started the critically acclaimed Atlantic Theatre Company, whose production of "Beauty Queen of Leenane" ran on Broadway.

She says that the script for "Boston Marriage" has gone through many changes - Mamet rewrote it for two weeks after rehearsals started. "I think everything lives in the script, Huffman says. "And as an actor all I can do is best fulfill the playwright's intentions....

"What David loves is great acting. He is a genius writer and director. So what you bring to it is simple truthfulness as much as you can, and then the style, based on what is written, takes care of itself."

For "Boston Marriage," she did have to learn to carry herself like a princess, to move and turn with the elegance of a blue-blood living on the fringes of society. Still, she says, the play is really about "the excavation one needs to go through to find what is really meaningful. I think that what is meaningful is love - and I don't mean by that 'being in love.' It's about finding the thing that can weather the storm."

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