Laura Benanti as Karen in Worth

INTERVIEW: Laura Benanti Shares the Responsibility She Felt in Worth

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Worth shares the story of 9/11 through the eyes of those fighting to get relief for the families of those lost in the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93. The film centers on Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) who is appointed by congress to lead the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. As Feinberg tries to quantify these human losses with a formula, his experiences with the bereaved opens his eyes to the nuances of grief. Broadway star Laura Benanti plays Karen Abate, the widow of a Staten Island firefighter who makes in indelible impact on Feinberg. For her, telling portraying Abate came with an immense sense of responsibility to the victims of 9/11.

Benanti was excited to be a part of the story as a performer but also as a New Yorker. “Well, I was born in New York, you know, and I was raised right outside of New Jersey and then moved back as soon as I could when I was 18. Um, I was 22 when 9/11 happened and I lived in the city and I experienced the heartbreak, the tragedy, I watched people covered in white powder in their suits, walking down the middle of the street, just walking like zombies, trying to get home,” Benanti shared, going on to talk about why she felt so drawn to Worth:

So it felt like a really personal story as a New Yorker and also as an American. And it’s a piece of our history that frankly I didn’t know anything about. I feel like it’s a really important story to tell. And I so admire all of the actors and Sarah Colangelo, the director, as well. She’s somebody I wanted to work with for a really long time. So it just felt like something I really actively wanted to be a part of.

Being in New York on 9/11 left Benanti with a sense of responsibility about telling Karen Abate’s story with a very grounded and real performance. When I asked her about being a New Yorker and that performance, she shared the responsibility that was on her shoulders in Worth:

Yeah. I mean, I think I just felt a tremendous responsibility in general. This is a very important subject matter to most Americans. And I think, I don’t want to say even more so, cause I don’t like comparing grief, but I think there is a sense of, for those of us who were there in New York on that day, it’s almost impossible to describe the horror and the fear. It was like palpable, it was energetic. So I definitely went into it with a sense of wanting to do it justice, you know, of wanting to represent the grieving loved ones in the most realistic way possible for my city, for my country and for these people as individuals.

Worth is currently streaming on Netflix.

(image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.