"I've got to go down to Times Square in one at some point," he says, then thinks better of the idea. "Although it's probably the only place in the world where no one would bat an eye."
The play, which Hodge calls a "roller-coasting, swashbuckling love story," concerns the long-nosed Cyrano, who is loves the beautiful Roxane. But she only has eyes for the handsome dunderhead Christian, so Cyrano decides to instruct his rival on how to woo the fair maiden.
Hodge, who won a Tony Award as a drag queen in the 2010 revival of La Cage aux Folles, says Edmond Rostand's florid tale seems to strike a chord in America, land of fad diets and glossy magazines.
"I think there is a huge interest in looks in this country and what they mean. I mean, Cyrano now would have rhinoplasty," says the actor, laughing. "How you look and how you come over is a huge thing in this play."
The current translation by Ranjit Bolt is intriguing in that it's been done completely in rhyming couplets, which Hodge says is "like doing something in hip-hop." He then proves it with a quote:
"Thanks to this nose, which, everywhere I go,/Precedes me, kindly letting people know/Cyrano's on his way and will be here/In 15 minutes."
Hodge is enjoying a new career chapter since playing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls in London in 2005. For about a decade before, he'd been more or less exclusively working with the great playwright Harold Pinter. So at a time when fellow Brits like Colin Firth and Clive Owen were making it in Hollywood, Hodge was wrestling with moments of quiet terror onstage. The change to big plays and musicals was surreal.
"I had spent 10 years in a sort of dark black box, swearing under my breath and being generally psychotic," he says. "And there I was, with all these dancing girls, having the time of my life."
His next step may be just as bold, though he politely refuses to discuss rumors that he will play Willy Wonka in a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London.
Jamie Lloyd, who directed Hodge in Inadmissible Evidence at London's Donmar Warehouse and is directing Cyrano, says this versatility is no accident. "Whatever the role is, he just means what he says. He finds some kind of psychological truth, some kind of instinct from within that makes it true for him."
Hodge, who lives near Oxford in England, was playing ex-royal butler Paul Burrell in the film Diana opposite Naomi Watts when he got the call that Cyrano was waiting, courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Hodge, ever the researcher, quickly began looking at noses online and also at real deformities, accidents of birth as well as accidents. He read a forum for the disfigured and learned that strangers often unconsciously touch their faces when meeting scarred people, all fodder for his art.
"I suspect that everyone has a part of themselves that they hide . . .," he says. "We might say to them, 'It's fine. You look great,' but for them it isn't."
Hodge had his first prosthetic noses made in Britain and brought five over to America, becoming petrified when he walked by customs officials with what are "essentially obscene objects."
"I was going, 'Please, please, not me,"' he recalls. "Can you imagine, 'Come over here, Mr. Hodge. Just what is that for? This bottle of glue, what's that for?' " He says he feared being labeled "the nose bomber."
Once he got onstage, the nose looked too circular and clownish. Hodge went back to the Internet to look up photos of folks like the actors Karl Malden and Jimmy Durante - "people with great snozzles." A cleft was put into the prosthetic and it was made more lopsided.
Hodge, who follows in some big nose-steps playing Cyrano, including Kevin Klein, Gerard Depardieu, Derek Jacobi, Christopher Plummer and Steve Martin, says putting on the prosthetic helps the process. The creative team even says he seems sadder when it goes on.
"It does kind of make you feel, 'Oh God," ' he says. "It sort of saddens your face somehow. You have to hold your face in a different way, even your body, because you're spatially different from the other person. You can't be that close. You see people backing off."