Clive Owen to Star on Broadway in 'M. Butterfly'

Courtesy of Polk & Co.
Clive Owen

The fall 2017 revival of David Henry Hwang's Tony-winning drama will mark visionary director Julie Taymor's first Broadway project since 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.'

Clive Owen will return to Broadway in the fall, starring in a revival of David Henry Hwang's Tony-winning 1988 drama about gender, race and deception, M. Butterfly, to be directed by Julie Taymor.

Taking on a role played by John Lithgow, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Irons, among others, Owen will play Rene Gallimard, a married French diplomat in 1960s Beijing, infatuated with a beautiful opera performer who spies on him for the Chinese government. Their scandalous relationship continues for 20 years, with Gallimard remaining in willful denial about his lover's true identity.

"M. Butterfly offers a novel challenge with its inherent mystery and astonishing storyline," said Owen, who made his Broadway debut in 2015 in Harold Pinter's Old Times. "I'm looking forward to diving into the mind of Rene Gallimard, and I can think of no one better than the brilliant Julie Taymor to bring this wonderful, daring, original play to life."

Casting for the second lead role of enigmatic opera star Song Liling is to be announced.

The play was inspired by the real-life love affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Chinese opera star Shi Pei Pu, as well as by Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. It premiered on Broadway in 1988 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning three, including for best play, and ran for almost two years. For this first major New York revival, Hwang will introduce new material that has come to light about the story's origins since the drama's premiere.

"M. Butterfly is like a Chinese puzzle, with layer upon layer of meaning," said Taymor. "The more deeply you explore it, the more its essence is revealed. This version is proving to be a true metamorphosis."

The revival will mark Taymor's first Broadway project since the rocky experience of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in 2011, when she was fired by producers during a closely scrutinized extended preview period plagued by accidents and creative conflicts. Since then, she has directed acclaimed off-Broadway productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Grounded, a solo play that starred Anne Hathaway.

Taymor won two Tonys (direction and costume design) for her groundbreaking staging for Disney of The Lion King, a global blockbuster that has become the highest-grossing entertainment property in history, earning over $1.3 billion on Broadway alone. The production will hit its 20th anniversary on Broadway this fall.

Lead producers on M. Butterfly are Nelle Nugent, Steve Traxler, Kenneth Teaton, Benjamin Feldman and Doug Morris. The revival will open Oct. 26 at a Broadway theater to be announced.