Katonah Residents Anne Twomey Lloyd and John Bedford Lloyd's Acting Careers
One couple explores the craft of acting everywhere from the sets of Law & Order to actual prisons.
Photo by Laurie Heffner Lewis
When Anne Twomey Lloyd first met her future husband, John Bedford Lloyd, in 1983, she had to take his clothes off—or most of them—onstage, every night. The two were cast as lovers in an Off-Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’s Vieux Carré. Each night, his character came home drunk and flopped down on the bed, and her character had to pull off his shoes, socks, pants, and shirt—no easy task since he is six-foot-five and she is five-foot-eight—and he “didn’t make it any easier for her,” he admits. Offstage, he says, they “kept it professional until the night the play closed,” and he took her to dinner on the Upper West Side. “A very quiet restaurant with low lights,” Anne remembers.
Meet the Lloyds of Katonah, and don’t be surprised if you have that odd feeling that you’ve met them before. You have, in another life, or lives—theirs. On stage, in movies, on television, and in audiobooks, they have played dozens of roles over the past three decades. John, 55, has been, variously, a 1940s radio-station owner in the AMC series Remember WENN, a string of leading-role bad guys on Law & Order and its spinoffs, and former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
Anne, who is comfortably a “woman of a certain age,” appeared in several episodes of Law & Order and its offspring; in L.A. Law, most memorably as a stalker; and performed as the president of NBC who canceled Seinfeld’s show-within-the-show (the only role for which she and John both auditioned—“I won that one!” she says).
Offstage, off-screen, and off-mic today, they both play intensely personal and little-known roles among people who need their inspiration most. And John has one other role in particular that he would just as soon see cancelled. More on those later.
One sunny day in the mid 1980s, John and Anne were out for a drive in their first car. They pulled off the Saw Mill River Parkway in Katonah, and found themselves marveling at, in Anne’s words, “this beautiful oasis, so quiet, with its clean air, so out of the world of Manhattan, that we instantly fell in love with it.” Within three months, they had sold their Manhattan apartment and moved to Katonah. “On moving day,” Anne recalls, “we passed the Rotary sign outside town saying, ‘Welcome to Katonah,’ and I put my arm out the window and gave a little fist-pump, and thought, ‘Wow! This is going to be such a cool part of our lives!’”
They have lived there ever since, except for one extended interlude when they moved to Pound Ridge for “more space,” then after 10 years moved back to Katonah. “I’ve always felt I have the security, the grounding, of this beautiful, peaceful, tranquil community,” Anne says. “And it’s a great community to bring up children.” Their daughter, Hannah, 23, is studying for a master’s in special ed at Fordham and working part-time with physically challenged children at Easter Seals New York’s Project Explore in Valhalla. Elizabeth, 19, lives in Brooklyn, and recently received her first modeling assignment.
John is matter-of-fact about recounting most of his various roles, but becomes emotional over one. “After family and career,” he says, “the most important, the most precious thing I do, without question, is working behind prison walls with Rehabilitation Through the Arts,” the creative-arts program founded by Katonah’s Katherine Vockins that operates in five men’s and women’s prisons in Westchester, Sullivan, and Dutchess Counties. John joined RTA five years ago, and started a theater program at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, New York, where he directs (along with his “wingman,” another Katonah-based actor, Patrick Collins) inmate-actors in their first-ever stage productions. “The experience, talent, and leadership that John and Anne and other volunteers bring to the program are what makes RTA unique and even possible,” Vockins says.
Last spring, the actors at Green Haven staged Macbeth before a select audience of fellow inmates and invited outsiders. “Some of the actors had never heard of Shakespeare,” John says. But the performance was “an absolute, complete triumph. They spoke the verse beautifully and, to a man, they performed extraordinarily well.” He adds, “It brings these men self-confidence and self-esteem, because they are in a completely new world, making the emotional leaps, meeting the challenges of the verse in Shakespeare, and finding a fearlessness onstage that comes as a spectacular surprise to them.”
Anne was drawn into RTA when John “would come home and talk about how incredible the classes were at Green Haven.” So she volunteered to work with the women inmates in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She does weekly yoga, dance, and meditation classes, and her students explore myths, such as Ariadne and Theseus. When each student was asked to write a monologue from the point of view of one of the characters, “Ariadne became a sorrowful, heartbroken woman right in front of us,” Anne says. “Talk about bringing a myth to life. I see women flowering, changing from being unable or unwilling to speak up to being confident and articulate.”
The Lloyds’ backstory reads like a fairy-tale American journey, from Elsewhere to New York, from scraping by to coveted roles and a comfortable family life offstage. Anne’s star shone first. Born in Boston, and raised in Wisconsin (where her mother took her to acting classes at age seven “because I was very shy”) and Philadelphia, she studied acting at Carnegie Mellon and Temple University, and arrived in New York in 1975 with high hopes, an intense stage presence, and luminous good looks. She encountered reality in the form of a seventh-floor walkup apartment, one floor higher than the legal limit. She worked as a salesperson, a model, a waitress for one day (“they fired me”), then in unpaid roles in tiny theaters, and low-paying summer stock and regional theater.
Finally, she struck it big in 1980 as the leading actress in Nuts, a play set in a courtroom in Manhattan’s notorious Bellevue Hospital Center. “Anne Twomey will tear your heart,” Clive Barnes raved in the New York Post. “She is tough, relentless, brilliant, and unforgettable.” The part earned her a Tony nomination, a Theatre World Award, and an invitation to recreate the role on London’s West End. (Barbra Streisand played the part in the 1987 film.) Later, she worked onstage with Vanessa Redgrave (“the great thrill of my life”) in Orpheus Descending, and with Christopher Reeve in The Guardsman at the Williamstown Theatre Festival three years before his accident in 1995. On television, she appeared on the first season of The Cosby Show, and in Magnum P.I., Spin City, and, more recently, multiple episodes of Law & Order, among other roles. Along the way, she starred in a good number of doomed pilots, portraying variously a lawyer, an advertising executive, and a good number of endlessly harried mothers. Her experience working on the film Picture Perfect did not live up to the title: she played a romantic role opposite Kevin Bacon, only to discover when it was screened that her part had been cut, leaving her with only a brief appearance.
Five years ago, she retired from acting, earned a master’s in social work at Fordham University, then did clinical work at NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division hospital in White Plains and at the Pleasantville Diagnostic Center. Right now, she is looking for ways to combine social work with her performing past, while continuing as a familiar voice on audiobooks.
John grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut (where his siblings told him, “We hope you are on TV someday, so we can turn you off”), and went to Williams College where he was pre-med. There, a friend persuaded him to try out for a college production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the role of the schizophrenic half-Native American patient “Chief” Bromden. The experience changed his life. “I loved the family of the theater,” he says, “a world of complete acceptance. I had found a home.” After that, he tried out for every play he could, first at Williams, then for a year in New York, where he landed low- or non-paying roles Off-Off-Broadway, meanwhile working as a busboy at Tavern on the Green. After a season of summer stock in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, he returned to Williams, graduated, and went on to the Yale School of Drama.
Back in New York, he brought a commanding presence and resonant bass voice to stage roles ranging from a strip-show barker in Vieux Carré, to the angry older brother in The Rainmaker. Of his role as a government suit named Munro in a 2009 Off-Broadway production of Offices, Variety applauded: “Lloyd makes Munro’s flaming rant about the Internet (‘It’s just a massive, swollen, deep river of crud!’) a magnificent, crazed aria.”
On television, he has played a senator on The West Wing, those villains on Law & Order, and, more recently, a millionaire ex-prizefighter in Suits, as well as an assistant chief of police on Blue Bloods. In movies, he was the homicidal cocaine-dealing maniac in Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Tom Hanks’s grieving older brother in Philadelphia, and a CIA agent chasing Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy.
John has one other recurring role that central casting could not have dreamed up—that of doppelgänger to former Democratic Congressman John Hall, whose district included Katonah. John canvassed votes for Hall in the 2006 and 2010 elections, and the trouble is that many people cannot tell them apart. The two men are of similar height (actor John is an inch taller than politician John), and both are unencumbered by hair. Seeing them together at a campaign function, even Anne was “stunned” at the resemblance. Strangers still greet actor John admiringly on the street, or alternatively, let their political feelings boil over. “One time I was in a hardware store, and a guy was about to dig into a tirade about ‘my’ policies, and I said, ‘I’m not who you think I am. If you have any qualms about his policies, I can’t help you,’” John recalls. “Another time, I actually had to pull out my driver’s license to get a guy to stop.” It is one role that John Lloyd can only hope will wrap soon.
Clell Bryant plays a veteran writer and magazine editor. He lives in Katonah.