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Broadway has found its new Atticus Finch.
Following the Nov. 3 departure of Jeff Daniels at the end of his yearlong run in Aaron Sorkin’s mega-selling stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harris will begin performances two days later in the pivotal role of the principled lawyer in 1930s small-town Alabama who takes on the defense of an African-American sharecropper falsely accused of raping a white woman.
Producer Scott Rudin on Friday confirmed Harris’ casting, following a report Thursday in The New York Times, based on information from an advertisement placed in the paper’s upcoming Sunday edition. It’s unclear how long Harris will remain in the role.
Harris is a four-time Oscar nominee, making the best supporting actor cut in 1996 for Apollo 13, in 1999 for The Truman Show and in 2003 for The Hours. He was nominated for best actor in 2001 for Pollock. He appears as the Man in Black on HBO’s Westworld and will be seen in the Top Gun: Maverick sequel, among other upcoming screen roles.
While Harris has returned frequently to off-Broadway theater in recent years, he has not appeared on Broadway since the 1996 Ronald Harwood World War II drama Taking Sides, in which he starred with Daniel Massey, Ann Dowd, Elizabeth Marvel and Michael Stuhlbarg. Harris received a Tony nomination for best actor for his 1986 Broadway debut in George Furth’s Precious Sons.
To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including best direction of a play for Bartlett Sher and best actor in a play for Daniels, who lost out to Bryan Cranston in Network in what was believed to be a close race. Celia Keenan-Bolger took home the sole Mockingbird win, for best featured actress in a play.
The Harper Lee adaptation has been one of the major hits of the 2018-19 Broadway season, not playing to an unsold seat since it began performances at the Shubert Theatre in November. The production recouped its reported capitalization of $7.5 million in April, just 19 weeks after opening to stellar reviews. It recently crossed the threshold to become the top-grossing American play in Broadway history, with cumulative box office expected to surpass $50 million this week.
Last month, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Richard Thomas will play Atticus in the national tour, kicking off Aug. 25, 2020, at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Casting has not yet been announced for the production’s recently confirmed London debut at the Gielgud Theatre next spring, produced by Sonia Friedman and Rudin.
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