Superstar producer Marc Platt, namesake of the Platt Performing Arts House and 1979 College graduate, has worked in television, film and on Broadway — but his roots are at Penn. Responsible for blockbusters like "Wicked," "Legally Blonde" and, most recently, "Into the Woods," Platt has not forgotten his involvement in performing arts during his time as a student. The Daily Pennsylvanian caught up with the mega-successful producer to reflect on Penn and discuss works-in-progress.
Daily Pennsylvanian: What was the performing arts scene like when you were at Penn?
Marc Platt: There was a very, very active performing arts scene when I went to Penn — many, many student productions that were highly visible on campus. And many, many kids participated in them, and the productions were very good and … always very well attended.
DP: Why did you decide to open the Platt Performing Arts House?
MP: I think there was a real need for it. I met my wife at Penn — we were both in the performing arts, many years ago. Penn is dear to our hearts, as an institution. It’s also where I learned an awful lot of the skills that I still employ today, as a producer. It’s where many of my friends, my lifetime friendships were made. When Penn was looking for more rehearsal space, because there was obvious need for it, going back many, many years, my wife and I donated what became the Platt Rehearsal Room in Houston Hall. And then, a few years later it was clear that there was still more need to really have a centralized place where a band could work, so it was a gift we were happy to make because it spoke to us both in terms of our history together at Penn. Many of my kids who have attended Penn were involved in the performing arts, a capella groups and such. It felt like a great extension of ourselves, of our interests, of our experience, of the institution that we hold very dear.
DP: How do you stay involved with Penn today?
MP: I stay involved mostly through my kids, who have since graduated, through my nieces and nephews who are still at Penn. But mostly, probably through my wife who is a trustee of the University, who is also head of Penn Alumni. That keeps me certainly very attuned to and familiar with the goings and comings of the University as it continues to evolve, and maintain itself as one of the country’s — well, one of the world’s leading institutions. I’m always interested in individuals who are at Penn or who have come from Penn. In my career in Hollywood, I’ve hired very many individuals who graduated from Penn, all of whom are doing very well in Hollywood, I might add … I have an internship program, that I always try to take a current student or two from Penn in the summertime. It’s a great internship program, it keeps abreast as to what’s going on at Penn. From time to time, we’ll get a request to speak or to participate in programs at the University, which I’m always happy to do.
DP: Penn Masala, Penn’s Hindi a capella group, is featured in "Pitch Perfect 2." What do you think of Penn performing arts groups and the worldwide recognition they have been getting lately?
MP: I’m delighted to hear that they’re in "Pitch Perfect 2," as is my son Ben Platt, who was one of the stars in the first one. I think it’s great — anything that gives Penn exposure is terrific and it’s not surprising that Penn always attracts really interesting and talented kids, so to hear that one of the groups is getting some public exposure outside of the campus community is terrific and not completely surprising.
DP: Do you have any exciting upcoming projects? There are lots of rumors about a "Wicked" adaptation in 2016. What can we expect?
MP: Oh, gosh. [laughs] Well, I hope they’re all exciting. I just had a film called "Into the Woods" come out. This year, I have a film called "Ricki and the Flash" coming out in August, starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. Then in October, I have a film directed by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Hanks coming out called "Bridge of Spies." I’m currently at work on a film that will be directed by Ang Lee, who has won three Academy Awards, most recently for "The Life of Pi," based on a novel called "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk," and that starts shooting in April. The "Wicked" film is — the development of the film is underway, so we’re working on the script, the screenplay, and when I think it’s ready and it’s sort of where it needs to be, to serve the basis for a great film, then we’ll push forward on the film. But it’s coming, and it is underway, it’ll just be some time.
This Q and A has been edited lightly for clarity.