Anthony Rapp Says King and I Star Yul Brynner 'Punched Me in the Stomach Once'

Alexia Fernandez
Anthony Rapp Says King and I Star Yul Brynner 'Punched Me in the Stomach Once'

Anthony Rapp is looking back on his earliest days on Broadway — and even touched on some difficult personalities.

The 47-year-old actor joined Entertainment Weekly on its Couch Surfing show with host Lola Ogunnaike in which he looked back at some of his most memorable roles.

Among them was his recollection of the late King and I star Yul Brynner who he said “punched” him when he was a child.

“I was around some people when I was growing up… Yul Brynner was not a very nice person. So I think I learned what I didn’t want to be in the business,” Rapp said. “[Brynner] could be pretty nasty.”

When Ogunnaike asked him to measure how mean Brynner could be on a scale of one to 10, Rapp said, “He was a nine.”

The actor claimed the legendary The King and I actor “punched me in the stomach once when I was in his way.”

Brynner was best known for his portrayal of King Mongkut in the musical The King and I. He won two Tony Awards and an Oscar for the film version of the musical. He died in 1985 at the age of 65.

Anthony Rapp, Yul Brynner | Greg Doherty/Getty; Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

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“He went, ‘Get out of my way.’ It was backstage in the dark,” Rapp said. “I think he’d been playing the king for 30 years at that point, so I think he thought he was the king.”

Despite the harsh theater experience, Rapp continued to act and worked his way up to critically acclaimed films such as A Beautiful Mind, which was directed by Ron Howard.

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“He is a lovely, lovely man,” Rapp said of Howard, 65. “Considering all he has experienced, he’s so grounded and gracious and patient.”

The 2001 film also starred Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Paul Bettany and Rapp’s Dazed and Confused costar Adam Goldberg.

Rapp now stars as Lt. Stamets in the CBS show Star Trek: Discovery along with Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Mary Wiseman, Michelle Yeoh and Shazad Latin.