Rudd to star as Orsini; Hunt in talks for Viola role

NEW YORK — Nicholas Hytner has agreed to direct a stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Lincoln Center this summer. Hytner has landed Paul Rudd to star as Orsini, and is now in talks with Helen Hunt to play Viola during her hiatus from “Mad About You.”

The play begins rehearsals on May 5 and will run from July 16 and close on Aug. 30. Rudd gets the role after starring for Hytner alongside Jennifer Aniston in “The Object of My Affection” at Fox.

Rudd, who last appeared on Broadway in Alfred Uhry’s Tony-winning play “The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” will brush up on his Shakespeare after completing “200 Cigarettes” for Paramount and director Risa Bramon Garcia. He plays Courtney Love’s love interest in the film.

Rudd, best known for playing Alicia Silverstone’s stepbrother in “Clueless,” is repped by ICM’s Steve Dontanville and Aleen Keshishian and attorney Debby Klein.

Hytner awaits word from Hunt, who was Oscar-nominated for “As Good as It Gets.” While Hunt waits to see if she wins the award, she also is deciding whether or not to return with Paul Reiser for another season of “Mad About You.” Her participation in the play, sources said, will be contingent on whether or not she decides to take a film role that has been offered her.

The play seems a strong possibility, as Hunt hasn’t had the chance to do stage work for years, after starting out in “Our Town” and “Taming of the Shrew.”

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