Marshall appeared as part of the Steiner Speaker Series, with Drama Head Peter Cooke
Marshall behind the camera
Marshall during his days at the CFA
An enthusiastic Carnegie Mellon University crowd packed the school's Chosky Theater this past Friday to welcome one of their own — multi-talented and multi-award-winning Rob Marshall (A'82).
A graduate of CMU's School of Drama, Marshall's many skills encompass dance, choreography, directing, theater, television and film.
Marshall was on CMU's Pittsburgh campus as part of the Steiner Speaker Series, made possible through the generosity of David (E'51 H'11) and Sylvia Steiner. The series is designed to bring national and international leaders in the entertainment and cultural industries to Carnegie Mellon.
Marshall is a four-time Emmy winner, a six-time Tony nominee and a nine-time Academy Award winner. His films have garnered 23 Academy Award nominations and his wins include three for Memoirs of a Geisha and Best Picture for Chicago. His most recent film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, grossed more than $1 billion, becoming the eighth-highest grossing movie in history.
Following welcoming remarks by CMU Provost Dr. Mark Kamlet and School of Drama Head Peter Cooke, Marshall joined the stage and sat down to an informal Q&A conversation with Cooke, followed by audience questions.
As down-to-earth as if he'd never left, the 2003 CMU Alumni Achievement Award winner spoke of his school and career experiences, nodding and smiling at those he recognized in the crowd — including former teachers. He entertained the appreciative listeners with tales of his rise to fame — from dance captain to choreographer to director, and from Broadway to Oscar-winning film.
Students and friends lined up at the microphones to pepper him with questions, and Marshall covered topics from his divergent creative endeavors to maintaining integrity while dealing with the 'business' of show business.
He gave high praise to the CMU Drama program as he touched often on how his theater training and experience here has been a driving and influential force in his career.
"It was an incredible program," said Marshall. "It was all here. I was acting one minute, doing voice the next. It was a wonderful combination of things that you couldn't find anywhere else in the country. It was really perfect."
"As a dancer, I'd walk in [to auditions] with hundreds of kids," he added. "When I got to the singing part, I could sing, then I would get to the reading and I could act because I had training. I could put it all together."
"What's so great about the theater is that you can sing and actually play a character at the same time and I learned how to do that here."
And he left a piece of advice for young actors, applicable to all.
"It's being unique," said Marshall. "Because that's who you are and that's what you can bring to the mix. We're all different and we have to celebrate those differences."