John Malkovich will return to the London stage for the first time in more than 30 years in the starring role of a new play by David Mamet about a disgraced Hollywood producer reminiscent of Harvey Weinstein.
In “Bitter Wheat,” Malkovich will play Barney Fein, the head of a Hollywood studio who falls from grace. The actor told BBC radio that, though Mamet used the Harvey Weinstein scandal as inspiration for what he described as a black farce, Fein is not directly based on Weinstein.
“It’s not particularly Harvey Weinstein. It’s a great deal about that business and a great deal about how people in that business, in positions, say, as studio heads, have behaved really for more or less than a century.”
Mamet-directed “Bitter Wheat” will run for a limited season from June 7 to Sept. 14 at the Garrick Theatre in the West End. Doon Mackichan (“Plebs”) will play Sondra, Fein’s assistant.
Mamet’s 1993 play “Oleanna,” about a professor accused of sexual misconduct, also opened in London. It was directed by Harold Pinter and starred David Suchet, known for portraying Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot on TV. Coincidentally, Malkovich has just played Poirot in the latest BBC adaptation of one of Christie’s novels, “The ABC Murders.”
Mamet’s Hollywood satire “Speed the Plow” also had a London run, starring Lindsay Lohan in 2014.
Weinstein is accused of multiple sexual offenses in the U.S. and under investigation in other jurisdictions, including London, where Scotland Yard continues to probe multiple allegations against the former mogul. He denies all accusations of non-consensual sex.
“I’m not great at math, but I would have thought that might be somewhere beyond a second chance,” Malkovich said, when asked if Weinstein would be given a shot at redemption. “Nothing would surprise me about the movie business. But could he be forgiven? That’s not up to me. He didn’t do anything to me. That’s up to the individuals whose lives he affected.”