There have been rumors for months that James Franco is on his way to Broadway, and the Oscar host said last week that he hopes the upcoming Nicole Kidman-led revival of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth will be his next project. (When contacted by EW, the show’s rep could only confirm that Franco might be headed to the Great White Way this fall). Am I shocked and excited? If anything James Franco decides to do still surprises you, you must also get a little rush when the sun rises or your toilet flushes, yet I trust him to do a bit more than just an impression of Paul Newman (who originated the role of gigolo Chance Wayne on Broadway in 1959). So yeah, I’m keen.
But Hollywood actors (and a director — remember when Quentin Tarantino appeared in Wait Until Dark?) have been treading Broadway’s boards for decades, and this autumn should prove no exception. Besides Franco and Kidman, several other A-listers supposedly have fall shows in the works.
Halle Berry and Samuel L. Jackson will likely headline the U.S. debut of Katori Hall’s Olivier-winning The Mountaintop, which reimagines Martin Luther King’s final night. Jackson will play MLK, while Berry is the mysterious hotel maid whose presence forces him to confront his demons. Katie Holmes is rumored to be considering a Broadway return (after plodding adequately through 2008’s All My Sons) alongside Chloë Sevigny in a revival of William Mastrosimone’s Extremities, a drama about a woman (originally played by Susan Sarandon) who captures and tortures her would-be rapist.
Keira Knightley should cross the Atlantic with her West End revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour (which debuts in London on Feb. 9) after the summer. The actress and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss portray mistresses of a New England boarding school whose lives crumble when a malicious student spreads a rumor that they’re lovers. And perennial EGOT threat Harry Connick Jr. will reportedly play the psychiatrist in the upcoming reimagining of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
If I had $80-plus bucks to gamble on a ticket to see one — and only one — performance, I’d have to go with Franco/Kidman. But I did declare Keira Knightley a great actress years ago when she starred in a TV version of Doctor Zhivago (2002), so I’d love her to prove me right again. I just wish theater critics would stop putting their noses in the air every time a movie star does Broadway. After Hollywood’s takeover of last year’s Tonys — Scarlett Johansson, Denzel Washington, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all scored awards — we’re clearly beyond the assumption that star power + stage = bad.
I’m already in line to see Franco and Kidman, but whom are you most eager to see on Broadway at year’s end? Are any of them worth shilling out an entire payday’s worth of cash to see strut their stuff?