"I think there is probably a greater compassion and mutual respect among theater actors because, unlike in film or television, we have to do this night after night and we know how hard it is to keep it going," says Masterson, known for the films "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Benny & Joon." "Sure, it's a commercial venture, but the Tonys feel somewhat purer, more about the work.
"Hollywood is like having affairs, and doing a Broadway show is like having an alternate family. It is a marriage and so you have to pick your partners carefully and be on your best behavior because you're going to be there for a while."
One of Masterson's partners in "Nine" -- and competitors, along with Jane Krakowski ("Nine"), Ashley Tuttle ("Movin' Out") and Tammy Blanchard ("Gypsy") -- is Rivera, who's been around long enough to see nominations and the award itself as an opportunity to "be in on a wonderful party."
She sees the Tonys' value as encouragement, particularly for actors who are newcomers. That's why she hopes her "Nine" co-star Antonio Banderas will have something to celebrate tonight. "It's his first time here, he's a hot Latin man, he's kicking butt out there and I think we should keep him here. I know I'd keep him," she says with laugh. "I don't think he'll leave the theater if he doesn't win. We're having a wonderful time with the show, but we need leading men like him in the theater."
Win or lose, the stage veteran says with a sigh, "once you're out of Radio City Music Hall, you're back to work. You continue to do what you're really there for. And, sure, I've said, 'Screw art, I want some money.' But like most of the nominees, I've chosen a theatrical life. And it's sure not about money or awards, honey."