Though born in Manchester, England, actor John Mahoney still considers West Suburban Oak Park home. A resident since the 1970s, Mahoney has been a member of the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre Company for almost 30 years. Due to an unexpected death in his family, Mahoney will be unable to star in Steppenwolf's production of Penelope, which opens Dec. 11.
Mahoney’s extensive roster of films includes Moonstruck, Tin Men, Barton Fink, Say Anything, Dan in Real Life and Flipped. On TV he has appeared in “In Treatment,” “Burn Notice,” “E.R.” and currently has a recurring role on “Hot in Cleveland.” He starred for 11 years on “Frasier” for which he received numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
John Mahoney's Ideal Day in Chicago
CP: What are your favorite restaurants in the city and why?
JM: If I am going out for a really nice dinner – whether it is to impress somebody or for a special occasion – then I would choose Tru or Everest. I love the food and service at both. If I am just eating regularly and find myself downtown, Coq d’Or at the Drake Hotel is one of my favorites. The Berghoff’s stand-up bar used to be my favorite place for lunch and a beer (when I used to drink) or a root beer (when I quit drinking).
CP: Given your hectic schedule, it’s hard to find time to unwind in Chicago. What do you like to – or would you – do to kick back and relax?
JM: I’m a subscriber to the Lyric Opera and member of the Art Institute of Chicago and I love going to both. If there’s a concert somewhere—and it doesn’t matter where—I’ll go to that if it’s something I want to see. Whether it’s FitzGerald’s in Berwyn or a much bigger venue, I enjoy live music. And, of course, the theater!
CP: What are your favorite neighborhoods in Chicago?
JM: I’m a real Oak Park fan. I love everything about it—the restaurants, the parks, the library, the theaters—and if I have friends coming into town, they always like to go on a Frank Lloyd Wright tour.
CP: What do you feel stands out most when you think about Chicago?
JM: When I think of Chicago, because I’m an actor, I think primarily in terms of the arts. And I think of the great opera company that we have here, the great symphony that we have here, and the great theaters that we have here. That, to me, makes us unique. I think we have more to offer than lot bigger, more cosmopolitan, cities such as New York and London. Everything that you could possibly want you have in Chicago. And everything is first class. Not only that, but it looks better! The city absolutely looks better than any other city in the world.
CP: Well then, what’s your favorite theater in the city? We know you’re doing a show at the Steppenwolf coming up.
JM: Well that is my favorite theater! I’ve been a member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company for almost 30 years and I’ve done probably 40 plays there. They offer something for everybody. This is not to say I don’t love the other theaters, because I do. I’ve worked a lot at Northlight Theatre in Skokie and I always go to the Goodman Theatre’s shows. There’s a tremendous amount of terrific theater in Chicago, even little storefront theaters like Redtwist Theatre.
CP: Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago-Style hot dog or Italian Beef sandwich?
JM: Oh I love all three! When I was doing Frasier, the first thing I would do when I got back to Chicago is get a pizza because I could not find a decent pizza in Los Angeles. But I love a good Italian Beef sandwich from Portillo’s or Buona Beef. As far as pizza goes, I personally prefer thin crust, though I used to go to Pizzeria Uno quite a bit. And if I am going to have a hot dog, I’ll do what is an enigma in Chicago and put ketchup on it. Ketchup mustard and relish, that’s my perfect dog.
CP: If you have family and friends in town for a visit, any places you like to bring them?
JM: I like to see what’s going on downtown—whether it’s Millennium Park, a new exhibit at the Art Institute, or see what’s playing at any of the theaters. If it’s beautiful I want to take them to the lakefront and show them Grant Park. Most of the guys that come visit me love to go to Wrigley Field.