One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Last Update: 03 July 2004

On May 21, 2004. the following story appeared in The Scotsman:
Woody or won't he fly over for Fringe?
HOLLYWOOD actor Woody Harrelson is being lined up to appear in a
stage adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at this year’s Fringe
The actor, best known for his role in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers
and the television series Cheers, is believed to be in talks to play
Randle P McMurphy, the convicted psychotic drifter at the centre of Ken
Kesey’s novel set in a mental asylum in the north-western United States.
Already confirmed for the play is actor Mackenzie Crook, star of the
award-winning television series The Office.
Harrelson, 43, is being touted for the role which was made famous by
Jack Nicholson in the 1975 movie version of the dark classic.
A source told the Evening News: "The star of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest has not been confirmed, but it is looking likely that Woody Harrelson
may be doing it."
The producer of the play, Guy Masterson - who was behind last year’s
surprise Fringe hit 12 Angry Men - refused to be drawn on the rumours
that Harrelson was being lined up for the lead role.
"That’s an interesting idea, but not one that I can confirm," he said.
Insiders say that Sean Bean, Michael Madsen and Robert Downey Jr have
also been approached in connection with the production.
Crook, 32, recently broke into the film world, appearing in the smash-hit
Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp, and the much-maligned
Sex Lives of the Potato Men. The man who is best known to millions of
British TV viewers as Gareth Keenan in the hit BBC comedy The Office
will play Billy Bibbitt in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Fringe organiser Paul Gudgin spoke of his delight at the prospect of
securing two acclaimed actors for the show.
He said: "We are always pleased when recognisable names agree to
perform in Fringe shows. The capture of Harrelson would be a real coup
and we’re delighted Mackenzie will again return.
"People are attracted to big names and they cause a lot of excitement.
When Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon performed in The Guys in 2002
they were extremely well received.
"But the great thing about the Fringe is that it’s a level playing field for
the famous and the unknown. The audience does not expect any airs or
graces and simply wants to see fantastic shows.
"It’s known as the ‘world’s first incubator of artistic talent’ and it’s a
wonderful place for young actors to come and see if they can cut the mustard."
For Crook, the show will be a welcome return to the Capital. He was
spotted by Bob Mortimer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1997, which
led him to work for the company that makes the TV show Shooting Stars.
That in turn led to various sketch shows, a few parts on dramas like
The Bill, and finally The Office.
The play, which will run at the Assembly Rooms from August 6-30, is set
in a ward of a state mental hospital in 1965. It is due to transfer to
London’s West End soon after its Edinburgh run.
The action begins as the disruptive influence of ex-con McMurphy arrives
to challenge the strict regime enforced by sadistic control freak Nurse
Masterson’s previous productions have won eight Fringe First Awards and
three Stage Best Actor Awards, including one for director himself in 2001.
The play will reunite six of the cast who starred in 12 Angry Men - Owen
O’Neill, David Calvitto, Ian Coppinger, Dave Johns, Gavin Robertson and
Phil Nichol.
Actress Frances Barber, whose television credits include My Family,
Holby City and Inspector Morse, will play Nurse Ratched, and Fringe
favourites Stephen K Amos, Adrian Hope, Katherine Jakeways, Lucy Porter
and Lizzie Roper, who played Trish in the recent hit BBC drama, Worst Week
of My Life, complete the cast.
The theatrical adaptation of Kesey’s seminal novel has proved a popular
choice with Fringe companies in the past.
Last year, both Leicestershire Youth Arts and Daf Left Theatre Company
tackled the challenging piece.
On June 19, 2004, The Scotsman reported:
Slater set to land Cuckoo's Nest role
ACTOR Christian Slater is expected to follow in the footsteps of another
notorious Hollywood hellraiser, Jack Nicholson, by starring in One Flew
Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Slater is understood to have edged ahead of other stars, including Woody
Harrelson and Robert Downey Jnr, to play the stage role of patient Randle P
McMurphy - the part made famous by Nicholson in the 1975 Oscar-winning
Details of the production, which will be directed by Guy Masterson, will not
be formally announced until next week, and the show’s producer, Nica Burns,
is currently in New York to secure a deal. It is understood that one of the
conditions for the production to go ahead is that a Hollywood star plays
the lead role in the play based on Ken Kesey’s novel about a drifter who
ends up in a US mental asylum in 1965.
The co-stars are expected to include Mackenzie Crook - who starred in
The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean - and actress Frances Barber.
Slater, 34, has had leading roles in True Romance and Interview with
the Vampire. The play will run at the Assembly Rooms from 6 to 30
August, before transferring to London’s West End.
An industry insider said: "Last week it looked like Woody Harrelson
was going to do it, but now Slater has emerged as the favourite for the role.
"Christian Slater has the same manic energy as Jack Nicholson, and he
would be box-office dynamite."
Anna Arthur, the publicist for the show, said: "Nica Burns is in New York
getting an actor to put pen to paper.
"Nothing is set in stone yet and will be announced next week," she said.

Sean was not available to appear in this play.


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