Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel know there are rumors about their contentious relationship while backstage working on “Wicked,” and they addressed them once and for all in an interview looking back 20 years later at the storied Broadway musical.
Speaking jointly in a retrospective interview with Vulture published Tuesday, the two stage stars said that they were well aware that the press and fans were pitting them against each other after their competing 2004 Tony Award campaigns for lead actress in a musical.
“Some people enjoyed the rumors, too,” Chenoweth said. “If I could go back in time, I’d be like, ‘I know what y’all are doing. Stop.’
“At one awards presentation, I said to Idina, ‘Can we go out and I’ll have on my neck brace and you have your head wrap and maybe a crutch?'” she continued. “I wanted it to look like we were beating up on each other.”
“Just take the piss out of it all,” Menzel chimed in. “Because then it’s so outlandish.”
Initially responding to Vulture’s prompt that “there were persistent rumors that you were at each other’s necks backstage” after being nominated in the same category, Chenoweth said, “I’d like to speak on this,” and revealed that she had been going through personal turmoil in the heat of the musical’s Broadway success.
“My mom was dealing with cancer. I was emotional and I was thinking about some other things,” she said.
In regards to the Tonys competitiveness, she added that “it’s Elphaba’s story” and she felt “there was no way that I would win.”
“I needed to deal with that part of me,” she said. “I was very emotional. I tried to push it out, I mean, if only people knew.”
“Unfortunately people like to do that to women,” Menzel added. “They can’t be supportive of one another. You have to put all this conflict in there.”
Menzel remembered, though, the power of the two of them coming together as Elphaba and Glinda each night to sing “For Good” — a song that features reflective lyrics like “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return.”
Chenoweth said singing that song was “healing,” no matter what was happening offstage.
“Whatever was going on in our own lives, it was nice to always be able to come to that at the end of a show,” Menzel said. “We would always look at each other and say, ‘I got you. You got me. We’re making this thing together. We love each other.’ People were saying stuff out there, and we were good at trying to bring it back to the two of us, because that’s all that matters.”
Read the interview in full here.