John Hurt joins Branagh’s Entertainer

Reporter: Charlotte Marshall, first published Mon 29 Feb 2016 07:00

Legendary film star John Hurt will return to the stage for the first time in more than a decade this year to star opposite Kenneth Branagh in The Entertainer.

The Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominated actor, best known for his roles in films including Midnight Express, Alien and The Elephant Man, will play Billy Rice opposite Branagh’s Archie Rice in Olivier Award-winning director Rob Ashford’s production from 20 August.

The pair will be joined in the cast by Jonah Hauer-King (Punk Rock, Lyric Hammersmith), Downton Abbey star Sophie McShera, who last appeared on stage in Jerusalem, and Emmy Award-winning screen actor and recent star of the BBC’s War And Peace Greta Scacchi (Bette & Joan, Deep Blue Sea, and Uncle Vanya, West End).

John Osborne’s post-war set classic play, which runs as part of the star-studded inaugural Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season, conjures all the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.

Hurt’s role in the production will mark his first return to the London stage since 2006’s Krapp’s Last Tape at the Barbican Theatre. His other many theatre credits include West End appearances in Heroes, Afterplay and A Month In The Country, but the actor is undoubtedly a household name for his countless Hollywood film credits, which recently included the Harry Potter series.

Commenting on his forthcoming role, Hurt said: “I am thrilled to be invited to play Billy Rice in this production of what I believe to be one of the great plays of the 20th century. This has been a wonderfully successful season for Ken Branagh and his company, and I feel proud and privileged to be joining them.”

Following screenings of Branagh’s theatre company’s The Winter’s Tale, The Entertainer is set to similarly be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide in the autumn, with the date and participating cinemas to be announced soon.

The Entertainer will conclude a year-long residency for Branagh’s company at the Garrick Theatre. Following the current revival of Red Velvet, the season will see Branagh star opposite Rob Brydon in The Painkiller before Games Of Thrones star Richard Madden and Dowton Abbey's Lily James take on the leading roles in Romeo And Juliet.